Planning Problems

It is unusual for me, dear reader, to have a single title for a blog post. But this week at Inkreadable, was nothing more than an epic fail in time management. I had 10 hours of lessons with the English Center this week, and generally I am pretty good about planning the whole week and sometimes even a couple of weeks in advance. But this week proved a little bit difficult as my friend Stella was staying with me. Don’t get me wrong. She is the easiest of visitors. She was quite content to stay in her room and do some learning. So I didn’t really have to commit too much. I did manage to take her out a couple of times during the week, but that was also about taking myself out. What that meant for lesson planning was less time, however. The previous weekend I had been pretty good about planning and I planned through Tuesday of last week. And then the weekend just got away from me and I couldn’t do any more planning. As a result, I found myself rushing on Tuesday night for Wednesday, which bled into planning on Wednesday for Thursday and on Thursday for Friday. Thursday into Friday wasn’t so bad because my student planned the whole lesson herself. She had some objectives and brought articles and a presentation that she is making. But the rest of the week taught me a lesson. Lesson planning on the weekend is a must. No matter what I am doing. And if that means saying no to friends for coffee and staying home for the weekend, that’s what’s going to have to be done.

This past weekend was a little bit better as I sat down on Saturday and planned almost the whole week. This past weekend was a little bit better as I sat down on Saturday and planned almost the whole week. I stopped planning for the night at about 5 o’clock. At that point, I had gotten Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday completely planned. That left two lessons on Wednesday to plan for and two lessons on Friday. Which meant that I was able to go do one thing fun on Sunday morning. And no, that was not a trip to the gym. I have not managed to do that in a few days and it does take a toll on my mental health. The reasons for that are twofold, planning as you have seen, but also the rules in the Netherlands changed with regard to Covid. And I was waiting to see what the changes would be before I actually went to the gym. Luckily by Monday I had sorted myself out and was able to go on yesterday morning.

By far the most time-consuming planning of the week was for The Conversation Playground. The plan for later today is to do a game called “Cross the river” where I put down cards with different verbs on them and the kids have to try and make a sentence to get to the next Card. The kid who does it first is the winner. Needless to say, writing verbs on cards took a lot of time. The second game took even more time. We are going to play what is called articulate in British English but taboo in the US. That is an extremely fun game where you have to describe a word that you see on a card without using the actual word. I am going to keep this more simplified format with the kids because I don’t think they can handle how we actually play the game. The real taboo has a word on a card and five words that you cannot use to describe that word. I think this is too much for the kids at the school because their level isn’t high enough. So this was my compromise. Just get them talking.

I have four lessons left with Claudia and two lessons left with Ellemieke. I get the distinct feeling that neither of them is going to continue. With Claudia that is OK because her English is so advanced that my planning struggles are quite acute with her. I’m simply running out of things to teach her. So what I have found is some IELTS Academic description work on graphs as that’s what we’ve been working on through her package. But that takes about 30 minutes of the class and then we end up talking for the last 30 minutes. When I first got Claudia as a student I was really intimidated because she has no cancellation policy and can basically change her schedule anytime she wants. I also found what she wanted to learn a little bit difficult to teach. But we hit our stride and it’s been a great 14 hours. I’m a little sad to only have 4 hours left with her. I will also be sad to lose Ellemieke, And in my heart of hearts, I hope that she decides to take some more lessons. I did let her know that we had two more lessons left in the package so she has some time to decide. ShinWei has decided that he wants to take 10 more hours of lessons with me. We will have to see how that works out because there’s a possibility that he will go to California for a project. That means he’ll be nine hours behind me and so timing is going to be difficult if he actually goes.

I start with two new students this coming week. I find myself in Amstelveen on Wednesdays for my fashion student and a new Japanese couple who want an introductory lesson before we actually start the 20-hour package. I’m not reLLY happy to be in Amstelveen but it’s money. And as I’ve said before, self-employment is all about the hustle. If I can keep my time management steady over the weekends, then I shouldn’t have a problem doing other fun things. You’ll notice, dear reader, that my time management does not actually have a slot booked in for the gym. One of the reasons is because it changes, Also because between private clients and English Center, I’m working about 20 hours a week. Right now, I’m just looking at each day and seeing if I can feet a gym session in. Fingers crossed.

The writer’s group met at my house on Thursday and we had a new member join us and pepper us with questions about our processes. While it was distracting and we got less writing than usual done, I enjoyed hearing about my fellow members’ processes. And bonus, Stella enjoyed the actual process of writing in a group as well. I was pleased with the results of the writers’ group as I got some interesting ideas about how to keep the writing flowing.

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

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