Inkreadable Intensives, Library Love and a Plotting Powerhouse

The week began dear reader, on a note of extreme fatigue. I had forgotten how tired one can get when they are teaching for 6 hours straight as in the halcyon days of VIPKid. Teaching for two-and-a-half hours beyond that turned me into a bumbling idiot at the end of the day. So much so, that when I went to change, I asked Jasper for help with a zipper only to have him tell me “but there was no zipper on the back of your dress”. Such was the level of my exhaustion. Now imagine that was only the last 7 hours of a 21-hour intensive of which I only did 14. I don’t even remember how I got home that Tuesday evening. I certainly don’t remember how I got home without being killed by some bike somewhere. The location I was at is only a 17-minute walk from my house but I don’t remember any of that 17 minutes. I started the second set of intensives yesterday where I am teaching 25 hours of the 32-hour course. I am quite happy to be working with the teacher that I worked with on the last intensive. We work quite well together and are able to complement each other’s teaching styles as we have much the same thought process when it comes to learning. While Laurien was a fairly advanced student, we did not know the student’s level for the next intensive that started yesterday. From the intake that she did, it was apparent that she was quite a low level in English and so that’s how we planned. It’s a very nerve-wracking way to plan not having enough information because you’re always dealing with the problem that you might not have enough material for the student. I planned all four of my days for the week over the weekend. The only day of the intensive that I didn’t when was the final day =, which is next Monday figuring that I would be able to plan that over the following weekend. I thought about it in terms of things she needs to know. She is a stylist and is competing in some master class competitions here in the Netherlands and Italy. I designed the course to follow a vocabulary book and then supplement it with other materials. The plan is to get her to talk about herself, to get her to use some verbs that are common in speaking, to get her comfortable with describing other people, as well as talk about her job. Marike and I went over the plan on Sunday evening and she agreed that it was a good idea and then she would give the student a base of phrasal verbs, idioms, and collocations. Which I think worked out quite well. I had to call the English Center and the owner commented about all the hours I am working. I am not sure whether I should take that negatively or not. Still, I’m grateful for the paycheck. I really like Intensives even though they make me tired and I sometimes doubt their efficacy. Maybe the point of an intensive is just to get you speaking in English for enough time that you get comfortable with it whether or not you get the grammar or teaching points in the day.

Late on Sunday evening, I got an email from another of my students asking to change our Tuesday afternoon lesson because it was going to be too hot. I got the message at 10:30 in the evening and felt very guilty texting the English Center so late but I was afraid that they would not be able to cancel the room on Monday. Technically, my student sent me the email within the 48-hour notice window that The English Center requires for their cancellation. If the student cancels it’s a lost lesson to the student and the teacher doesn’t get paid. I do not like the policy and so I am always willing to reschedule but the issue is will we have access to a room. In this case, I was able to cancel the room. I emailed my student to let them know and suggest an alternative time to meet. We went back and forth as I wanted to meet on Monday and Tuesday of next week, but she requested Thursday. I never work on Thursday evenings, dear reader. That’s writer’s group time and is sacred. We agreed to move the last lesson in the package to after she comes back from a summer break in Turkiye, so All’s Well That Ends Well. But trying to match up the time and accommodate everyone is a bit of a juggling act. As the teacher, you have to coordinate with English Center and with the student. Sometimes, I find that to be quite difficult. In more positive events, Yuka and I liked the library in Amstelveen much better than we like teaching over at the English Center. It’s a little closer to town for one and is a transport Hub as well. So with Dutch transport being as unpredictable as it is right now with roadworks seemingly on every system, I think the library is a better bet for both of us, especially since she lives right on the same square as the library complex. The other nice thing about the complex is that there’s a shopping mall and so there is something to d if I am early.

The Thursday night writing group has been a bit torturous for me because I’m not really writing as much as I am trying to figure out whether I have filled in all the various plot holes that I feel that I have in the novel. We have been planning to meet in real life on a Saturday but because I couldn’t this Saturday I asked if we could meet on Sunday. This we did and we were planning to meet at the location that we normally meet at which is somewhere near Amsterdam Central Station. As I was walking there, there was a flurry of texts asking if we could meet instead in a cafe in my neighborhood. I was grateful for the change as I hadn’t started walking yet. We met and instead of doing any writing, I actually started plotting the novel out chapter by chapter, in addition, I started figuring out plot points for a future book in the series. I was able to do the first five chapters of the novel and so it was quite a productive day. I even feel like I can do that outside of the reading group itself. This, dear reader, is a big deal for me because for a long time I have felt that I can only deal with my novel when I’m actually in the writer’s group. It’s nice to feel like I can go to a cafe and just sit to work on my own. It also helps that I got a letter from a friend in the States who also misses our writing sessions and her letter is galvanizing me to get to work again. Ceridwen, I promise I’ll answer the weather this time.

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

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