Interviewer: Hi Lee, thank you for taking your time to answer these questions. I am sure Los Pinos´s parents will be pleased to know more about you. Tell us, please, how long you have been working in Los Pinos for.
Lee: I arrived in April last year, so it’s almost been a year now! I love it here, so I hope to stay for many, many more years!
Int.: Could you tell us a bit about your past, your other jobs working with kids? Apparently you have been in lots of different places in this world.
Lee: I started working with children voluntarily before I even left school myself. I always knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. I then worked full time in a standard nursery school in England with children aged 2-4 years. I also worked in a Rudolf Steiner based school in South Africa with children suffering complex special needs, from aged 4 up to 16 years old. These children couldn’t attend mainstream school because of their conditions. This was very different, very challenging and very rewarding! Years later, I went to Thailand to study for my initial TEFL course and ended up working in an orphanage. This was very well suited to me because the children had many complex emotional needs, which is something I am very confident in dealing with. So I’ve worked in different parts of the world as well as with children in different circumstances.
Int.: Any cultural difference you may find between kids in the UK, South Africa, Thailand and Spain?
Lee: The cultural differences are vast. In Thailand the children are generally much more quiet and well behaved, but are often shy and less engaging in lessons. School isn’t mandatory out there and is more of a luxury. The children and their families are aware of this and are very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity. With school being mandatory in the UK and the rest of the western world, many children take it for granted and don’t share that enthusiasm. The children in South Africa are inspiring! I did a bit of work with the mainstream education out there voluntarily in the poorer areas, and the children were very loving, always smiling and very appreciative of everything!
Int.: Lee, you have an extremely good reputation amongst Los Pinos kids and their parents. Actually, you are probably one of the most popular persons today in the School. What do you do to become so highly appreciated in relatively so little time?
Lee: I very much appreciate my reception since arriving at Los Pinos! I believe wholeheartedly in putting the children’s happiness first. ‘A happy child is a child who will learn’. I live by that. I have endless patience, and am hugely responsive to the children’s emotional needs. They need plenty of comfort and reassurance, especially when they first start school.
My lessons are based on fun! Plenty of smiles and plenty of humour! I believe that if you put positive energy out there, then you receive positive energy back! I’m very happy with the children, I love working with them, The children at Los Pinos are lovely, and the families I have been blessed to get to know so far are amazing too! So in terms of my popularity, I feel mainly that I have simply been lucky enough to find work within a wonderful community of people!
Int.: You think you have innate skills or these skills of yours can be developed?
Lee: I think so. ‘Developed’ but not ‘taught’. The desire to do what’s best for the children is either within you or not. If they are, the possibilities are endless! Remembering basic concepts like making eye contact and smiling with the children helps them to feel at ease and enjoy your company, but you need to be genuinely enjoying your time and experience with the children.
As I mentioned, it’s mostly about desire. If you don’t love a job like this, it’s very hard to do it effectively.
Int.: Another surprising thing is that language doesn´t seem to be a barrier for you to engage, or to make them engage with you, isn´t it?
Lee: What many people don’t realise is that communication is only about 7% words! 55% is body language and 38% is tone of voice and expression. Additionally, children learn actions and gestures before they learn speech, for example, asking a baby to «point to their nose». This is of course, universal. Additionally as I mentioned before, making the lessons fun is crucial, as it gives the children the desire to engage! I inject as much humour as possible to the lessons, and even something as subtle as looking at something silly in a story book and then glancing at the children, looking back at the book in disbelief and then looking the children again can make them laugh!
Int.: Is there anything else you want to tell us, Lee? Thank you for your time and see you in Los Pinos!!
Lee: I’d just like to say thank you to everyone! To the School directors, all the other teachers, the parents and the children for the love and appreciation as well as the opportunity to work for such a great company and live in such a beautiful country. I have felt very welcome since arriving! The feeling of appreciation is very much mutual.