Unique understanding And a student surplus

This week at Inkreadable, dear readers, ended up being an interesting one. While the work continues to be quite slow, I am starting to make a name for myself with parents of students from VIPKid who are now recommending me to other parents. Such is the case with Sunday’s student, he is the best friend of my student from VIPKid, who we will call Gerald, and his twin sister, who we’llll call  Jane, have been with me for two years. Gerald disappeared off my schedule last week, but Jane did not. When I had her in my class I asked her what was going on and apparently their packages are winding up and their parents are not sure if they are going to continue with VIPKid. This of course was heartbreaking for me because the students are two of my favorites. Luckily, I have their mom on WeChat and we are sort of friendly. Having been born in the same year as well as having gone to school in Boston. She went to Boston College and I went to Boston University. Three guesses as to who is the smarter one. I duly contacted her to tell her that I also offer private lessons and she was quite interested. In fact, she is considering going private with me but also gave my name to Gerald’s best friend, will call him Anton. Anton’s mom wants him to work on reading and vocabulary just like Scarlet’s mom does but Anton is about five years older. So while I was looking at materials to use, Gerald’s mom sent me National Geographic books to take a look at. They are amazing. And a great resource for the preteen to teenage set.

This week at Inkreadable, dear readers, ended up being an interesting one. While the work continues to be quite slow, I am starting to make a name for myself with parents of students from VIPKid who are now recommending me to other parents. Such is the case with Sunday’s student, he is the best friend of my student from VIPKid, who we will call Gerald, and his twin sister, who we’llll call  Jane, have been with me for two years. Gerald disappeared off my schedule last week, but Jane did not. When I had her in my class I asked her what was going on and apparently their packages are winding up and their parents are not sure if they are going to continue with VIPKid. This of course was heartbreaking for me because the students are two of my favorites. Luckily, I have their mom on WeChat and we are sort of friendly. Having been born in the same year as well as having gone to school in Boston. She went to Boston College and I went to Boston University. Three guesses as to who is the smarter one. I duly contacted her to tell her that I also offer private lessons and she was quite interested. In fact, she is considering going private with me but also gave my name to Gerald’s best friend, will call him Anton. Anton’s mom wants him to work on reading and vocabulary just like Scarlet’s mom does but Anton is about five years older. So while I was looking at materials to use, Gerald’s mom sent me National Geographic books to take a look at. They are amazing. And a great resource for the preteen to teenage set.

We made an appointment on Sunday afternoon for an hour and worked our way through the first chapter of the first National Geographic book. It was a decent success. I have a feeling that they will stick with me. I’m still waiting to hear from Gerald and Jane’s mother about whether they will start with me but I don’t want push too hard since they already gave me a client. I have a feeling that they’ll start with me later in the Summer as the twins are doing a lot of extra classes. I’ll still see Jane at VIPKid for the moment.

Over in the VIPKid world, I’ve started having bad dreams again. Bad dreams of getting three apples or less for reviews. I think it’s because of all of the drama with VIPKid that is currently happening. There is another strike and the teachers are walking out on 1 August. As ever, I have decided to do that as well and to go and see Jasper’s aunt who is not feeling very well. Win-win. I am also seeing quite a few new-to-me students.  I think this is also where the dreams are coming from because the more new students you have the greater chance you have of getting a bad review. After all, we can’t all be at our best all of the time. No matter what the VIP teachers would have you believe. 

Felix and I did not meet on Friday, as he went to Paris for the weekend. To say that I was jealous was an understatement. I really wish that I could travel a bit. As a result I gave about eight hours to Cambly over the weekend. In that time we ran the gamut from kids to adults, mostly women, from people who are motivated to learn. There was even one person who thought that I didn’t understand him and what he wanted. That was not the case he wanted me to teach him how to introduce somebody to other people in English. I was duly trying to do this and he thought that I couldn’t understand him and he dropped the call. I am finding Cambly to be a little bit more tiring than VIPKid even. It’s one thing to have slides and curricula prepared for you. It’s quite another thing to sit online for two hours and have to talk to people as they call in and teach them English on the fly. I can see the advantage of it.  It makes me a better teacher and more fluid. What that did for Anton was gave him a pretty smooth lesson even though I haven’t really prepared. I’m gonna have to figure out how much time to give Cambly though because the pay really is quite low.

Karolina is also a no-show for the next couple of weeks because she’s got her masters thesis that she needs to complete. Her exam is later this evening and we will have to see how she does. I really do hope that she comes back for lessons. Katya is on vacation and I have given her homework through her mother. I want her to describe the things that she can see here and do while on her camping trip. Let’s see if she actually does the homework. After all, the last couple of classes, her answers were the stock “I don’t know”. While Chinese children are obedient and will take six hours of lessons a day if their parents want them to, the same cannot be said of western children nor frankly of western parents. So it’s just as well that she’s on vacation, and we will see what happens when she comes back in September. If she comes back. Scarlet was also a no-show this week, but that was different, and  no fault of her own.Her parents were in the middle of filing their taxes and so of course could not get up in time for her to have a lesson with me. The surprising thing about that was that I told her Mom that I would make an exception with my policy and allow them one cancellation without penalty. Scarlet’s mom turned around and asked me to charge her. This is the second time in my three years as a self-employed English as a Foreign Language teacher that I have been able to get a student to agree to my terms. Another win-win. In fact it wasn’t even a question. It felt really nice being validated.

Over in the Writer’s world, it isn’t often that I really connect with someone on a deep level, but this week at the critique group the new person that we have and I really connected. We have been going back-and-forth about different ideas for writing through various forms of communication including email and WhatsApp and generally having a grand old time. It’s helpful because it galvanizes me to at least want to write. To feel the loss of my characters, and I’m hoping that with more interaction and with more help from this new person, perhaps what will happen is that I will want to write about my characters once again. And even be able to do it at home and be disciplined about it. This week, if it happens, we are doing a board game night instead of the usual dinner night. I am also having a VIPKid teacher come as a guest from Berlin from Tuesday to Friday evening. She has also expressed interest in the board game night so we will have to see how all of that pans out. Alas, what that means for Jasper and I is very little time together this week. But, sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

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

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