As I promised, this post will be, at least tangentially, about teaching, as November is soon to be upon us. And you’ll get a slew of writing related posts in that month. I plan on being Nano Rebellious. There are different types of nano’s: traditional ones plan on starting a 50,000 words novels from scratch on 1 November, some of them plan their novels and some of them, like me, fly by the seat of their pants and just discovery right. I’ve been doing that for the last six years on a book. I am hoping to use this year’s nano to finish that book. Because, as much as I would like to start a book from scratch, ain’t nobody got time for that with teaching. So Nano rebel it will be.
I’m not sure if any of my readers, the ones that follow this blog, not the ones who read once I paste the link on my Facebook pages, will understand what the trauma online teaching can be. In the words of the immortal Sophia of golden girls fame: picture it: Washington DC 2017. I had just got back from a world-wind three months in Europe splitting my time between Greece, and Holland. It was January and Christmas was over. I have been teaching through December and I was waking up at 2 AM to teach from three until nine. It would be the first time that I experienced purple panic. A purple panic in my world is when you wake up after having dreams that you’re already late for class and have accumulated not one, but twelve teacher no-shows. My VIPKid colleagues can relate. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. These dreams started for me when I got back to the US in December. And would continue until April, when I left the US to come back to Holland, where the hours are normal. Or so I thought.
It’s never nice when you wake up feeling like you’ve already screwed up for the day. I will say that there’s nothing quite like the relief of realizing that you didn’t. As I’ve mentioned in another post, the only times that I’ve had tech issues, and thus teacher no-shows, is when the computer died or the internet was in a place where I couldn’t fix it died. So the dreams are doubly nerve-racking. The purple panic consists of waking up with a wildly beating heart, sweaty palms, well, sweaty everything, and the most crippling feeling of disorientation you’ve ever experienced. The “where am I” sensation is there, but imagine it on steroids. While it is not as bad as what I experienced during my mom’s short but intense illness, for me, it’s up there.
I’ve been living in the Netherlands for a year and a half and thought I was done with the purple panic. But a few days ago, I woke up thinking that a level 7+ student gave me a one apple review. It literally woke me up gasping for breath and ruined my mood for the rest of the day. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad had happened or was going to happen.
It’s hard to get out of the purple panic mode. Long after one of those dreams, you’re in a haze, and you’re floating through the day. You’re making the motions but really you can’t get past that “holy crap” feeling of the dream. When I looked at my schedule that day, it turns out that I had five level 7+ classes. That. at least. provided an explanation for the purple panic and the dream. My purple panic happens in two ways either it’s waking up from a dream where I get a bad review or a dream where I open my schedule and I have 15 lessons with a four apple or lower feedback that tanks my average. Luckily, I have been a five Apple teacher for about six months. And the times that I wasn’t, haven’t affected my ability to get paid or have my contract renewed. VIPKid won’t let you apply for different jobs in their arsenal if you have a 4.98 average or less. Thankfully, I’m not super concerned with all of that, but purple panic sends me into a tailspin for a while. My solace is my extra students who continue to amuse me and one particular family at VIPKid with whom I’ve had the best class with a level 2 in a long while. This wonderful little girl goes by the name of Joey and she and her mom and I had a wonderful class filled with laughter and learning. I realize that that is why I do my job. I love teaching language but I also love the communication with my students and their families.
That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But keep coming back, November is sure to be a riot, as I regale you with the antics of NaNovember. Stay tuned, as always there is more to come.