Teaching Trenches and a Writing Rollercoaster

This week at Inkreadable, dear reader, really tested my mettle. Most of the time I can fairly easily adapt between levels. This includes subtle shifts in level like B1 To B2, but also more extreme shifts like B1 to C1. This week however, that proved a little bit more challenging then I had anticipated, and I felt that across all of my platforms through the week.

Initially, I had thought that my most difficult transition lessons would be for The English Center. At least, that’s how the first part of the week shaped up. I have two students with them and one is a very solid B2, and the other is off the charts good at English. Her understanding and ability to do the work is beyond the C level. That’s not to say that she doesn’t struggle a little bit, but in most of the exercises that we’ve been doing, she has gotten nearly everything right. I am very lucky that she is humorous and can handle my self-deprecating humor, as I got into our second lesson and told her flat out that she was my most challenging student and that I had to ask for help from even more experienced teachers than I was. She was able to see the humor and laughed right along with me which was great. But the fact remains that trying to find lessons that are challenging enough for Claudia is a challenge all its own. I have therefore been focusing on the academic lessons and using a site called English for Academic Purposes. That seems to be working fairly well but still seems to be quite easy. Since this is a writing class, I feel a bit guilty that we haven’t actually done very much writing in the lesson and she hasn’t given me any writing Samples of her own to take a look at. With Lily, my other English Center client, it’s not so much that finding lessons that are difficult. Rather, it is making sure that the lessons are topics that she finds interesting because she bores easily. I also find myself worried that I will be a little bit too academic for Lily and not academic enough for Claudia. But neither of them have complained to the English Center so I think I am OK thus far.

This past week is also a challenge over at VIPKid. I typically open Prime Prime Time on Saturdays, which means 12-3 PM CET. While I thought that the classes for Claudia are hard, they’re nothing compared to the VIPKid writing lessons. They are an hour long and you’re supposed to go over a piece of writing that is submitted by the student. The assignment for this kid was to write a mini biography. And he chose to write about a Track Star in China. The biggest problem with this was that he literally wrote a half a sentence that I had to then spend an hour editing as well as trying to draw him out and get him to talk about writing in general and reading this piece. It was quite literally like pulling teeth to try to get him to answer questions. I must’ve done something right however because on Sunday morning, I woke up to a five Apple review from his mom. I suspect but that is going to be someone that I see again and I’m not looking forward to it.

Yesterday was my penultimate lesson with Alaina and I was curiously hesitant to ask her about whether she wants to renew the package. She is heading to Paris for a few weeks starting this week and I’m not sure that she will be able to continue with English lessons. It’s a shame because I would love to continue with her. I suspect however the reason that she’s going to Paris will not allow her to block off time for an English lesson once a week. I think I will wait until next eek to ask, I have had a two week hiatus from The Dutch student that I see on Mondays as it has been both school vacation and May holiday. I am busy trying to craft questions to ask him about his vacation as he is typically Dutch and never really forthcoming about what he did on any of his vacations. It is a quandary.

As suggested by my title, the week has also been quite difficult in terms of writing. I simply didn’t have the mental space this week to be able to write my own stuff. I find myself only wishing to read other people’s stuff. Which seems like a waste of time when you’re online with your writing friends and you’re not doing any writing. Still the discipline of getting online and at least being there on a Thursday night is important in itself because it’s still connects me to writing. I was able to do a little bit better on Sunday but was not entirely able to concentrate that day either. While I did some writing on Sunday, I also stressed about it it because I should’ve been lesson planning while I was writing. The discipline of being a writer can be sometimes very difficult, and his week was no exception.

I also had an MRI this week and will have a consultation with the doctor on Thursday. It was unfortunate because I was an idiot and opened up slots for VIPKid on Thursday having forgotten that my consultation was in person. So I had to send an email to the doctor and ask him if he could be a telephone consult. Thankfully he agreed and I opened up the rest of Thursday with the exception of the hour when he supposed to be calling me. Also this week I discovered that my computer, which is barely a year old, is having technical issues. Actually, It’s a problem of hardware. It seems that one of the ports on my Dell no longer function. I found this out on Friday morning when I was setting up my computer to teach. The upshot is that I cannot power my computer, use my headphones, and use my cooling laptop stand at the same time. But this is why I bought the expensive care package and Dell came out to me on Monday. I took the precaution of letting Alena know that I might have to change our lesson for Monday because I’m not sure what time the technician will come out. It has truly been a pins and needles kind of week for me here at Inkreadable.

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

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