Teacher Troubled

It’s been a fairly quiet week at Inkreadable. While I still have a lot of teaching commitments they are slowly winding down in advance of my trip to Greece from the 11th to 21 July. I will attempt to write a blog post about some of the things that I experience in Greece while I am there. But for now, it is still Amsterdam and there are still two more posts till then.  We start, as ever, in the suburbs of Amsterdam where Carlton is the main reason for this week’s post title. He continued with his mantra of “I do not want to finish with you, miss. I love doing homework with you, miss.” And of course, there’s my jaded knee jerk reaction of ‘Yeah, as if, kid.” This causes me quite a bit of conflict as I have a really hard time justifying going out to him every Tuesday evening. By the time I calculate preparation hours, commuting hours, and actual teaching time, this client ends up being just short of a minimum wage job here in the Netherlands. Which means about eight euros an hour. It doesn’t really make it worth it for me. Given that the negotiations with his mom were so fraught when we first started in January, I am going to raise my rate about 30%, but am not at all confident that I will be able to get it. They had already talked me down from my standard rate, claiming that it was not worth it for a child to charge my habitual rate. Which is very strange. Because I remember my parents doing everything they could to help me overcome the various learning disabilities that I had as a child. But that is in the future nearer to the end of the summer than now and we will revisit it in a subsequent post, dear readers. back to Tuesday’s lesson. We spent an hour on dictation with Carlton focusing on his listening skills, as well as his spelling skills. In particular, he struggles with capitalization, spacing, and punctuation. The last two are particularly difficult for him. He mostly remembers putting a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence, but really struggles to write spacing correctly. That is, he put spaces in between the letters of words, but not spaces between the words themselves. As a result, when he writes it looks like one long string of letters. Making it very difficult to read. My solution for this was to write out a sentence correctly and have him copy it is exactly as he could. I told his mom that he was still struggling with this and recommended that they have him practice that with a family member as well. She was receptive to the suggestion and we’ll see if he improves in this goal later tonight.

Felix and I got back into the swing of things with his lessons. And shocker of shockers, I discovered through various textbooks that I have as a result of both the English Center and my own purchases, that we have done every single solitary bit of English grammar at least once. So now it becomes a race to see what other things that I can teach him in the context of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. On Wednesday, we went over the difference between present continuous and present simple. Felix still struggles with adding an S at the end of the third person plural. In addition, when telling a story, he has a tendency to say “he said me” and not  ‘he said to me’ or “he told me” so we worked on that as well. I think the model of going through the books that I have and doing a bit more listening skills exercises might be good at this point for Felix. As well as to get him Writing a bit on his own. I’m a little bit troubled here as well because he is still at a B1 level. Part of the problem is that I think he speaks only to his boyfriend in English. And I don’t think he is by any means fluent. I have tried to get him to go to the English language café but have been thus far and successful. I think it would be very good for him, to get practice with more native speakers in the room than me. And there are a few of us at these cafés. I’ll keep trying and see what happens.

Over at the English Center, I wound up with two of my clients, but still have remaining lessons with my real estate executives, my shared student who is moving to Canada, and I got a third student who will continue with me when I come back from Greece. I’m leaving from the 11th to 21 July and will have two lessons with him on Wednesday evenings after I get back. I do hope to get more bookings from them while I am in Greece that I can accept.

The past couple of weeks I cut down my VIPKid classes fairly significantly. Where I was doing 30 hours a week from the beginning of the year, which was already cut down from the 36-40 that I used to work, I am now doing about 18 hours. I must say that I am loving the change but not loving the guilt that I feel whenever a parent asks me for a priority booking. I decided that my last day teaching would be 5 July which is next Friday. I am going to focus only on my own and The English Center clients that I have from the sixth until the 11th. In fact, I did this on purpose scheduling many different things on those days that would make it impossible to teach for VIPKid. I hope that continues So that VIPKid is relegated, as you know, to a side job and not my main bread and butter.

On the writing front, by which I mean my own writing, I haven’t been doing too much of that. It has been unbearably hot in Amsterdam over the last couple of Thursdays and the bookstore where we meet has no air-conditioning. As we are on the third floor that makes for an impossible writing situation and so we’ve been foregoing writing for Hemingway evenings instead. Which is just a fancy way of saying we go down to the local pub and drink instead.  And talk writing. Also my writing has become more difficult because my computer is on the fritz still. Things are getting worse with the Mac and it takes two or three times to use my shift key to make a capital letter. In my research, I’ve decided to forgo the best laptop in the world, which is a Huawei Matebook. At least for now. That company is having so much trouble that I am not sure that they’re going to be around with their laptops much longer. So I’ve decided to look at Dell again. I’d have them previously in my academic and work life and found that they were good. They also have some very small very thin ones and that’s what I want. Plus they’re a lot cheaper than the Huawei. But the research into a new computer continues as it’s not a rush. Although my eyes are feeling the difference between my Mac and my refurbished HP which I teach from. It’s like night and day. And I mean that literally. The crispness of the Mac Is so much better than the struggle that I have even trying to see my students in the classroom from the HP. Actually, I think there is a rush to get a new computer. I can almost feel my eyes going worse and worse as a result of how I’m teaching now.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

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