Scheduling (Sort of) sorted, tech trials, and weekend work

I have been back in the Netherlands for about a week and a half. While I am slowly getting back into the swing of things, I have learned a couple of things that were unexpected. The most important of which is that the saying age is just a number is frankly. bullshit. At least when it comes to getting over jetlag. I am finding that it’s taking me quite a bit longer to get into a sleep pattern and that is even for me because I am not the best sleeper normally. It’s also been tough trying to get back into a gym routine. It also doesn’t help that twice a week I am in Amstelveen teaching Harumi and one of those is quite early. That is a tough wake-u. It’s been tough trying to get back into a gym routine. It also doesn’t help that twice a week I am in Amstelveen Teaching Harumi and one of those, though not unreasonable at 9:30 am, means I need to be out of the house by 8:00.

On the positive side, I very much enjoyed not having to travel to Amstelveen for the Conversation Playground. I have to say that’s one of my most stressful commitments. The kids are wonderful, but I did suggest to Amardip that he exclude the group 6 classes from participating as they simply don’t have enough language. Or, if he wants to capture the group six market then the games are structured in such a way that they learn chunks of language and vocabulary. It would be more lesson than game format.

Over at the English Center, I have pretty much scheduled all of my classes with the exception of one of my students, Martijn who does want continue, but was unsure that what that would look like. He wasn’t sure whether his level had improved in our classes. I had to explain, that in the context of private lessons improvement is measured differently. We can always test him to see how he has improved in his level. I also had to explain that the English Center is only giving lessons that are business-focused. I think that Martijn would do quite well in the intermediate business English class, but he feels that he does not want to be with business people who are much faster than he. So it looks like he’s going to stick with me. Harumi and Eleni both have scheduled their lessons. The two of them take me well into January. By far the most challenging student in terms of scheduling currently, Is ShinWei. He has decided to renew for another 10 hours, and that takes me to the end of February. At that point I will be in the states. The challenge is that we don’t know what his schedule will be like. There is the possibility that he will also be in the states and if I’m in the states at the same time it will be quite easy, but if I am back in the Netherlands then we have to adjust for that time difference. Because under no circumstances will I be waking in the middle of the night to teach. Those days are over.

My private clients are both a little bit easier, and a little bit harder. I have to schedule Sander because my unexpected trip to the US has knocked us a little bit off course. Since he paid me for the whole package in advance, it took me a little while to figure out where we are in the 15 hours and how much we have left to go. I sat down to figure this out on Sunday. With Karolina I bill her at the end of the month and she only pays for lessons that she’s taken. So that’s just a matter of counting from the calendar. George and Jerry are similar except that I get paid in advance into PayPal and deduct the invoice amount at the end of the month. With Odhran, the student in Ireland whom I teach Greek, the challenge is not the package, it’s four hours which makes 8 half-hour lessons, which theoretically should be used up in one month. The challenge here has been both my travel and theirs. Just before I left for the states they went to the states so that the kids could get vaccinated. Then I was in the states and they came back to Europe. I came back to Europe and taught two lessons this week. And then they went back to the US. So the ping-ponging of our lessons has me in a tizzy. I cannot figure out where in the package we are very easily.

The English Center is changing its payment system and I and several other teachers have been selected to be their Lab rats. I will find out tomorrow what that will entail. I hope that it is not terribly difficult because just as I’ve gotten into the swing of weekly invoicing, it may now change. I am not all that good with change. And I get really stressed out having to learn new things.

The Writers Group has been meeting online on Thursday evenings. We also meet on at least one weekend day. This weekend was Sunday. While I do actual writing and creating on Thursday evenings, Sundays had become devoted to lesson planning. It’s been quite difficult because of jetlag. I haven’t been able to plan a full week’s worth of lessons in one day. I think I want to get back to that place. I made a valiant attempt on Sunday during the time I was supposed to be writing, but I didn’t quite manage to get all eight of my hours planned. Still, I am confident that I will get back to that.

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

Rushed Return and Weekend Write- In

Greetings, dear reader, from the Netherlands. I arrived back home on Saturday. The trip was uneventful, but I must say that I don’t really like traveling in Covid times. It’s particularly difficult trying to figure out what each leg of a journey needs in terms of documentation for Covid. In addition, the new strains that are popping up seemingly every day are causing the end of anxiety for me and everybody else. Things I learned this trip: Do not transfer through Heathrow if you can help it. It is a terrible transfer airport. The layovers are way too short and the signage in the airport is way to unclear for you to ever figure out where you’re going.

I got back to the Netherlands to find that the rules have changed again, and a more severe lockdown is now in place. All stores with the exception of supermarkets, are to close at 5 PM. Essentially the lockdown is A 5 PM to 5 AM business curfew. All but essential stores have to close at five and they cannot open until 5 o’clock in the morning the next day. I’m not sure how effective this measure will be, however, it seems a little bit like they are just trying to give lip service to the idea of lockdown, Rather than any measures that are actually effective. While the European Medical Authority has approved vaccinations for ages 5 to 12, the Dutch government has not started putting anything in place to get kids vaccinated. I do think that would go a long way to stopping the spread of Covid. It would be nice if the Dutch government could make some concrete decisions and quickly. With a new variant in southern Africa, Jasper and I are reconsidering both our trip to Greece which is booked and our trip to America which is not.

My last class with Conversation Playground went online as well because of the regulations. The schools are now allowing people from outside the school to come in. I was a bit nervous about the class as I have not taught kinds online in a group. It’s always been one on one. It went really well, but I forgotten how hard it is to manage a group classroom. We used Teams and I don’t like it as much as I like Zoom. But I did get to hear positive feedback from the paents in the background.

My English center classes are mostly online, with the exception of one, which is in person at Amstelveen. I sent emails to everyone and confirmed lessons with most of them. The in-person lesson will still be going to go through as the English Center is open for business. At least until The government says otherwise. The consequences of my trip were rather severe. I lost one student because she said that she did not want to switch between teachers and did not want to wait for me to get back from the US. The other student seemed to be willing to wait, but he did not respond to the two emails that I sent him. He then contacted the English center to also switch permanently. I sent him an email wishing him well that he never responded to. That did not make me feel good.

The Writers Group had their first weekend Write-In a while. We met on Sunday from 10 to 1 and about eight people showed up. We will have to see if the Thursday night online session has as many people. This will continue for at least three weeks if not longer, what with the restrictions changing so quickly.

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

Schedule Shutdown and a Traumatic Trip

It’s been quite a busy week at Inkreadable this week. With things deteriorating Covidwise in the Netherlands, we took the Writers Group online at least until things calm down a bit. Since Jasper is diabetic, I have also decided to ask that only people who have been vaccinated come to my house once things open up. I think it’s an easy enough ask. What I am not sure about is how the unvaccinated people that I know will take that. One person in my Writers Group has used the term apartheid to talk about vaccinations. While I am not concerned about friction now, as this past Thursday’s meeting went online and there was no issue, the lockdown ending may have a different result. But it looks like I may have some time, as I’m not convinced the lockdown is going to end after three weeks.

Looking back over the week now, I’ve been wondering if the beginning of the week wasn’t a harbinger. On Monday, I arrived at Piet Hein To find that all but two of my students weren’t going to be in the class. I learned that one of the kids In my class had tested positive for Covid so the whole of his class, which included two other kids in my class, was in quarantine. My fourth student has only shown up to two of the sessions. I let Amardip know and he advised me to ask the teachers at the school about the student so that we can at least cover our bases. But things were about to change rapidly.

We had recently learned that my aunt was quite ill with cancer. They did not have a diagnosis of the type as yet, and I was waiting to hear about a possible prognosis. On Tuesday we received word that In all likelihood she would pass away either that day or the next. Knowing that I started making arrangements to head to the US. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it was going to be. I was not able to find any tickets that were direct to Washington from Amsterdam and everything else I found with connecting flights, was in the thousands of dollars. My sister contacted me and she was able to find me a ticket for quite a bit less. The catch? I either had to fly to London or Dublin. I chose London as I am a bit familiar with the airport. The next step was to figure out what I needed in terms of Covid for each leg of the journey. For London, I need a passenger locator form and proof of vaccination. For Washington, I needed proof of vaccination, an attestation form, and a rapid test. The time running short, I made a reservation for a rapid test at 8 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday.

The next step of course was to rearrange my schedule. I knew that most people would be willing to cancel and wait for me to get back. But one of my students wanted a substitute teacher and so that needs arranging with the English Center. Because I had prepped a lesson already for Friday, I was able to give it to the teacher who would do the substitution. The student also wanted to continue with the other teacher. While I am upset at losing a student, the customer experience is what matters. And I will probably get more students. I also had to arrange my other English Center students which were easy enough. A little bit more difficult was The Conversation Playground, But I was able to enlist Erica’s help and get her to take the class for me. We also had a conversation early on Monday morning to go over what she needed to expect.

On Wednesday, I ran to get my PCR test and then go teach in Amstelveen. It was a fraught morning worried that I wouldn’t be able to get to the lesson in time. But I was there with about 10 minutes to spare. Harumi decided that she wanted to wait until I got back. While I know that I traveled due to circumstances beyond my control, and most people are understanding, I still have a lot of guilt. I think I have come up with a way that everyone gets their lessons when I go to to Greece in December (which is the source of my guilt). I am going to offer online lessons to those students who wish to continue while I’m on holiday. Since most of my students are online anyway it shouldn’t be a problem, the only worry is my in-person Student in Amstelveen. Still, it’s a problem for when I get back.

I got to the airport on Thursday and presented my documents to the airline. I had filled in the incorrect airline number on the UK form, so I had to redo it. Once I got to London, the layover was so short that I got to the gate in the middle of boarding. When I presented my boarding pass and passport, I was pulled aside because my passport had been flagged. It was either a random check or they thought I was a person of suspicion. Lesson learned? Avoid Heathrow, whenever possible. On balance, I am glad that I came and was able to spend a little bit of time With my family, and of course, I got to see my aunt. It was also nice to see my sister and my dad who I haven’t seen in two years. The trip was the right thing to do. The bonus was that I was able to get some things done with my apartment here in DC. I am looking forward to returning to Amsterdam at the end of the week,

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

Ludicrous Lockdown

The week, dear reader, started out well enough, with me being quite busy just managing to keep to my time management schedule. By Wednesday of last week I had planned half of the lessons for the week and by Saturday was completely done. And that included the two-hour lesson for Mohamed in The Hague. But really, that was for the best as there wasn’t anything to do. On Friday night, the Dutch government announced a new lockdown that started on Saturday and will continue for three weeks. At that time there had been no word from the English center as to whether we would be holding lessons. I took the precaution of moving what lessons I could online.

ShinWei was easy because he and I sometimes meet at a café but the cafés here are all closing at either 6 o’clock or 8 o’clock depending on whether they are considered essential or not. Rather than taking the chance, on Saturday, I contacted him on WhatsApp and we agreed to move online for the duration. It’s a pity because we were planning on going to a Chinese restaurant where I would get to sample some authentic delicacies that I might not otherwise try if I wasn’t with someone who was native to the cuisine. With my lesson planning done by 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, all that was left to do was read a book and chill out. At least until I had to go to a birthday party.

While I did not stay long at the birthday party, I wanted to go and see if the balloons that I had ordered looked amazing. My friend had asked for a large number balloon delivery. So I contacted our mutual friends and we went in on a group and we bought her 33 balloons, one for each year of her life. She loved it. While it was a surprise, I had asked her straight out what she wanted and that’s what she told me. She had ordered balloons for other people but had never received them herself. So that’s exactly what I did.

This lockdown makes me angry. I am angry because this lockdown did not have to be a lockdown. If people had followed directions and maintained social distancing, and worn masks instead of acting as if the pandemic had never happened, we would not then have 16,000 cases in one day in the Netherlands from Wednesday into Thursday. I am angry at the government that there was no foresight taken for people who did not vaccinate. For the last few months, it’s been a free-for-all in terms of access. While it’s true that you have to show a QR code for vaccination status, apparently people have been showing fake QR codes. And that is insane.

I fully agree with people making the choice not to vaccinate. But then they should have to deal with the consequences of not being vaccinated. In Germany, they have started stricter measures called 2G, But those measures are still being debated by the government here in the Netherlands. With some major family trouble in the states, Jasper and my travel plans are up in the air. You see, I may have to go to America at a moment’s notice because a family member is ill. Terminally so. So the plan for the next few weeks is to do as little as possible in person. I will still have to go to the shops as Jasper shouldn’t. But most social activities will be online, and any in-person social activities will happen both distanced and outside.

I have also decided in conjunction with Mark that it’s best if we take the writers group online for the moment. We still have some people who are not vaccinated and Jasper has asked me not to have people who are unvaccinated in the house. It’s a small enough ask that I am happy to comply with. Still, it makes me sad that all of this could’ve been avoided if people had just thought about anyone other than themselves. After all, it’s just a small jab and will protect you in the long run. While I do believe that you have the right to make any choice that you wish for your body, you also have to deal with the consequences when it doesn’t conform to the rest of society. I just wish having complied with the rules, I didn’t now have to pay for other people’s stupidity.

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

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.

Pronunciation powerhouse, daunting dilemmas, and writing wrangling

It’s been a decent week at Inkreadable. For the rest of my teaching friends, it’s been an emotional week because they have had to say goodbye to students that they have been teaching for years. You see, this is the last week that teachers could book for the final week of VIPKid, at least with the kids. That’s right, a definite shut down date has been given and it is 5 November. Because I haven’t been involved with VIPKid for over two months, I don’t feel the same anxiety. I could frankly care less. I have the WeChat accounts of the ones that I have a relationship with and that is enough for me. What has changed for me, is that my availability for the English Center has increased. And while I am not working the 20 hours a week that I would need to feel secure in Amsterdam, I am doing that between English Center and my private clients.

Over at English Center, I have one Greek girl that you know about, Eleni with whom I am working on pronunciation. And tomorrow I will have a second student for pronunciation. This one is Dutch. So it’ll be interesting to see and compare what kind of mistakes Dutch people make versus Greek people. I already know of one. The TH sound in Dutch is pronounced like a hard T. And there is no sound like in the word think or in the word then. In addition, the F and V sound are so similar in Dutch, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish them. Greek doesn’t have these problems because are all of these letters are pronounced on some level. Where Greek has a problem is the S. The Greek S is pronounced somewhere between the American S in serpent And the sound in sheet. It is both too soft for the S in serpent and too soft for the SH in sheet. Another problem with Greek speakers is the I. The word hit most of the time will sound like heat. So it’s been interesting trying to isolate the sounds and work on them. Other problems include the TION sound and how we pronounce the X sound. For the Greek speaker, H is also a problem..

The week opened up a couple of dilemmas. Over at the English Center, a potential client was offered on the WhatsApp group to the teachers but the catch is you have to go to The Hague. I received an email from the owner of the English Center telling me that I would be a really good fit for the student as I have an MBA and I am fairly experienced in talking about real estate. The problem is it’s location. The English Center does not pay for time but it does pay for transportation. Still. The dilemma was do I travel nearly 3 hours round-trip for an hour and a half class? Some of you might think that it’s a no-brainer and would say no. But in this economy where you’re strapped for cash, you actually think about it. The pressure led to me agreeing to teach two Thursdays in November. Because Brenda offered the group rate and is trying to convince the student to do two hours instead of an hour and a half to make it more worth it for the teacher. I am sharing the student with a teacher who is already located in the Hague but either cannot or does not want to do all of the lessons. They are having a really hard time finding people for the rest of these student’s lessons. You see he wants an hour and a half every day in November. I do not necessarily find it the most effective way to learn English, but I need the work.

This week at the Conversation Playground was a little bit difficult. While classroom management was not an issue, I still feel that the kids are not having any fun nor can they have any fun when their level is too low. If you don’t have the language to play the game how is the game fun? In last afternoon’s class we did a mystery-solving game and a Verb relay race. For the mystery, we divided into two groups of three. While these games worked reasonably well I am not necessarily convinced that the kids are learning anything. There is still a hell of a lot of Dutch being spoken between them. More and more as I teach these courses, I realize that the owner of the conversation Playground likes to micromanage everything and I’m also conscious that I could not do this for more than one or two hours a week. Because I can keep my mouth shut only so much. If you don’t allow the teachers to teach how are the kids learning anything? Lingueo has kind of fallen by the wayside. I had a one-off lesson with a student last week but have since closed off the schedule. My plan for them is to open on a week-to-week basis and see if I can get anything. At least until I come back from Christmas. I’m still not sure whether I should work from the US or not. I’ll be there for almost a month. And the only way it will work is if I can have my students change their schedules so that I work in the morning but not at 3 AM.

Jasper was quite sick this week with a cold. It wasn’t Covid, he tested. I had to quickly pivot and find a location for the Writers Group. We went to the library where it all began. It’s like coming full circle. Things I learned at the library this week: I have gotten old, People are stupid, and there’s no such thing as Covid. Or at least that’s how it felt. You see, the library was open as it had been pre-pandemic. There were no mask requirements, there were no QR code requirements. You could just walk in and sit at a table and write. While I am all for the world opening up again, it was not very nice to be sitting at a table where many people were coughing and sneezing. There was not a mask in sight nor was there any social distancing. All of this is in advance of a new press conference scheduled to take place this evening y and to possibly reinstate some of the measures of the pandemic. I am hoping that the measures are for people who have not been vaccinated. After all, it’s your choice to be vaccinated or not but then you have to comply with the rules based on that choice. This week the writer’s group will meet at my house. I have a friend with me this week who I met at the Edinburgh Writers Group so it’ll be interesting to see how she feels on Thursday when all we do together is sit and write. The Edinburgh Writers Group was a critique group. I am not sure how she will feel about it but it will be interesting to hear her thoughts.

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

Marvelous Museums and Light Lesson Week

This post, dear reader is going to be fairly short. With my sister and her kids in town for a week, I only worked for about 2 1/2 hours this week. The rest of the time was filled with playing tourist in the city. A word of warning, dear reader, if you decide to come to Amsterdam, book your tickets in advance for museums and attractions as things tend to fill up quickly as they’re using reservations most places.

Of the museums that we saw, I think all of us got a kick out of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibition. Ripley’s Cabinet of Curiosities here in Amsterdam is a repository of random items collected by the famed explorer over his career. I did notice that many of the replicas in the museum are post his passing. I am enough of a cynic to have been amused by the whole experience. We also got a chance to go to the Voorlinden museum which is just outside of The Hague. The Voorlinen, like Louisiana Museum in Denmark, is an old estate filled with artwork. We also got a chance to see the Singer museum in Laren, which presents the collection of William Henry Singer, the American artist. Our last Museum of the week was the shipping museum. What I like about all of these experiences, is that all of the museums make sure the kids are actively involved in looking at paintings. At the art museums we went to, the kids were able to do a scavenger hunt looking for a different paintings. While at the shipping museum, they had lots of tactile things to play with.

My new student Eleni, is a bubbly, smiley young woman. She was wonderful to meet and she really liked my lesson. What’s interesting is that Greek people aren’t normally so bubbly. She is taking the course because her Dutch boss told her that she is difficult to understand when speaking in English. You all know how I feel when Speakers of a second language actually criticize other speakers of a second language about that language so we won’t go into it. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of tongue twisters, some conversation and quite a bit of reading. To that end I have asked her for ideas on what she would like to read about and interestingly enough, she wants to read about pharmacology and epidemiology as that is her current line of work. Since I don’t have any experience with either of those, It will be an interesting experience indeed.

The Conversation Playground was on hiatus last week because of the fall break. We are meeting tomorrow in a different room instead. The plan is to do the past tense focusing on using went and go through bingo, doing a game called reporters where you tell stories using verbs on cards, For the second game we gave three verbs in the last class I taught, but I think for this one I’m only going to give two because we’re going to run into The paradox of choice and the kids are going to have too hard of a time. In addition, the bingo game I will also hand out bingo cards rather than having the kids picked their sentences. I think it’s the best way forward with this group because they take too long to pick stuff.

I also had my last Lingueo lesson with Karine, I now I only have one student on Wednesday and that is only a one hour. We will have to see if I get more lessons as the plan is to open up a week in advance and not more. VIPKid announced the setting up of a global platform. The base pay for all teachers will be seven dollars per class. Which means a nearly 30% pay cut for me. We will have to see what happens. I will probably just sign the contract and then not open anything.

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

Playground Problems and Student Swansongs

It’s been a fairly busy week here at Inkreadable . I have a new student on my TEC schedule. She is Greek and starts this coming Friday. I started planning the lesson before my sister’s arrival so that I would be able to spend more time with her and her children doing fun stuff like going to museums, the zoo, and various outdoor spaces. I did not get as far as I would’ve liked, as I was sent a lot of resources from TEC and I did not have as much time as I wanted to take a look at them. The fact that this package is with a Greek girl, I’m kind of excited about.It will be interesting trying to figure out how to correct her pronunciation. So the first step I took was looking online for a database of sorts or a blog article about what kind of mistakes Greek speakers make. I also got access to her English central classes. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned English Central before, but it is an English language tool that the English Center has access to that has lessons where are you can also practice your pronunciation. It always amuses me because even I don’t get 100% for pronunciation. It must be something about the algorithm.

I finished up with Vicente last week, and I’m close to finishing up with another student week after next. I am hopeful that I will get more students, but what I really would like is a course. Not only is that more money but it’s also more steady work. Which is always important. Most of my students decide not to renew, so a course makes up for the loss. One of my TEC students, Ellemieke, is trying to improve her English so she can go and teach it in the Dutch school system. I’ve gotten some very interesting perspectives from her both as a prospective teacher and as a parent who has children in the system. It’s interesting because English is taught by Dutch teachers to students starting at the age of nine. And it’s mostly theory. Apparently the children don’t actually use the language in the classroom. Which to me is silly because, what’s the point? If you’re not going to use the language why bother learning it at all? I’ve had the thought that if I could get people interested, maybe I could go and teach Dutch teachers how to teach English. Ellemieke thought that was a good idea and so I think that we’re going to have more conversations over the next few lessons. She and I also bonded on a rather tragic note as well. She lost her husband four years ago to melanoma. It was all I could do, dear reader not to cry in front of her. I wasn’t particularly successful because she noticed and thankfully, she understood. Claudia, after an absence of forever, was back on my schedule this week. We have six lessons left and she still wants to focus on writing reports. I hope that I can find enough interesting material to help her. It’s a little scarce. ShinWei and I have met in person once now and we’ve had a great time, as they were conversational Our online meetings are devoted to classes but our in person meeting was just talk. It was easily the most fun of my lessons. But also the most challenging because it’s hard to keep somebody talking for an hour. Our next lesson will be in person as well so I need to up the conversation game.

By far the most challenging portion of this week was Conversation Playground. Adam, one of the children in the group, gets very upset and acts out when you don’t pick on him every time to do some thing. He also has a tendency to invade other children’s personal space a lot. In the last class, he actually pushed one of the girls. She was horsing around and so she laughed it off, but when confronted, Adam admitted that he had only pushed a little bit and not too hard. I did tell the whole class that pushing was not acceptable. I also took the precaution of telling Amardip, the owner of the conversation playground, and he instructed me to wait and see what happens next class. If there is any other misbehavior I am to tell him and he will contact the parents. It’s going to be a long Six weeks. I am very much looking forward to 29 November which will be the last class. Paradoxically, I am looking forward to continuing with the conversation playground because one hour or two hours a week is enough real classroom time with children. I don’t think I need more.

My private clients or a little bit scarce as my sister and her kids are here for a week. I have therefore cleared my schedule as much as I can. I will have George and Jerry later today, I also have my last class with Karine over at Lingueo. Unfortunately, I lost a student with Lingueo because their schedule changed. I did take the precaution of contacting the student to see if she wanted to book other lessons with me and told her that I had a fairly flexible schedule if she would like to change. But there has been no response. Karolina, who is in Finland recovering from a throat illness, was on my schedule on Thursday last week. She was a little bit distracted because she had received some texts from her work saying that they needed to have a talk. She is concerned that her bid to stay in Finland has been rejected. Apparently Finland suits her very well and she really doesn’t want to return to Poland. Xander and I had a wonderful first lesson for this package and I’m really glad to have him on my schedule. I was able to connect his lessons with another TEC client of mine who also works in real estate so it’s been interesting trying to make lessons for them.

I had the Writers Group at my house again this week. I managed to both host and get some work done. It was nice because we had two new people who seem to like how we work, and I was able to balance hosting with actual writing. I noticed some plot holes and was able to fix them. Fixing the holes actually helped me figure out where the writing is going to go and where the next couple of chapters are heading.

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

Conversation Connections and Lesson Lags

Generally, getting back into the swing of a routine in Amsterdam when back from a trip is pretty easy. But over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that while I’m able to maintain certain types of routine, the same cannot be said of my schedule. I often keep track of my students progress through their packages using my Google Calendar app. But it seems that I do not know how to count because I thought I had seven lessons left with Freek, but it turns out we only had one. He has decided to let the last lesson go, and because he told me well in advance, that means that the English Center keeps the money and I do not get paid. Which as we all know, is not a policy I am particularly enamored with. Claudia has jumped back on my schedule for our last seven lessons, and for this dear reader, both English Center and I agree that that is the remainder in the package. Ellemieke and my new student Frank are also on my schedule this week. But Marco, sent me an email saying that he is having medical issues and cannot take lessons at this time and has asked that we post phone for eight weeks. But in eight weeks, I will be in America. It’s not that I am unwilling to work, but I’m not sure that I want to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning and to be able to accommodate both Marco and a client that I have later today named Martijn. Marco is ok with starting in 2022. I’ll talk to Martijn later today.

The Conversation Playground is going quite well. We managed to get Yousef the student who was taking us as a trial last week to sign up. I am quite happy about that. What I’ve noticed about this group of kids is that Adam is going to be the instigator and the two girls are very giggly because they’re very nervous about their English. I am not entirely sure how to deal with that. I have a feeling that Lawrens whose dad is American, is going to prove instrumental in helping me bolster everybody else’s confidence. The plan for this week is to do telephone, least in common/most in common, and likes and dislikes at the kids have in common. I think that Lawrence is going to be this class’ Aamani. She was a wonderful Dutch girl of Indian dissent at the Karel Eichmann School who’s English was off the hook. Truly extraordinary. And while Lawrence doesn’t think that’s gonna be the case for him, I disagree.

Xander is back on my schedule on Monday morning, and we had our first lesson yesterday and it was great to see him even if it was online. I have decided to take that week by week and see whether he’d like online or in person. I am OK with either, but it all honesty I do prefer being in person because I’m bored of my house. I only saw George and Jerry on Tuesday this week, and the pattern will be repeated next week and the week after. The Conversation Playground did not realize that there was a free day on 25 October as well as the 18th October so we had to shift 25 October to 26 October so that I could be finished by the end of November. Jasper and I typically leave in the beginning of December for the US and I don’t want to mess with that timetable. Unfortunately it’s George and Jerry and to some extent Odhran, who get to pay the price for that.

The Writers Group again met at my house this past week, and Marijn was there as usual, but I actually got some work done. I’ve been thinking that given I have more time, I should make it a point to do a half an hour of writing just like I make it a point to go into an hour of cardio every day. That was a little bit difficult in the pandemic, because I simply cannot write at home but now that things are opening up maybe I’ll be able to find a place that suits me each day to do some writing.

My sister is coming this weekend with her kids and is staying for a week. I have been firmly engaged in trying to clear my schedule so that I don’t have very many lessons. It looks like Tuesday is going to be my most difficult day. We will also have to see about my new student on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Martijn because maybe I won’t be able to cancel his lessons. Fingers Crossed. I have already talked to Ellemieke, and Xander is always OK with taking a day off. Claudia was OK with taking Monday and Wednesday off as well.

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

Schedule Shortage, Conversation Commencement and a Hoxton Hangout

I’m not sure why is, dear reader, that adult students seem to want the same days and times. Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be extremely popular days. So much so that I am concerned that I do not have enough time to accept more lessons. I have a student who wants to meet online from 11 to 11:30 in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The problem is I have another student who wants to meet in person on one of those days. The in person client is Freek who is now back on my schedule. The problem is I have to add an hour and a half each way to my commute to get to Amstelveen. I also have Ellemieke who I’ve been meeting on Thursdays as well. My dilemma is how do I accommodate all of these clients and still have room for more. On Mondays, I have Xander from 11 to 1230 and then the Conversation Playground from 2:45 to 345. I could potentially do the class from 9 to 1030 on a Monday morning, and then again from five onwards. Right now in the evening I have one client, but when Claudia jumps back on my schedule next week, that’s going to cause a problem because she also likes Monday at 5 PM. I’m also waiting to hear on a new client starting on October 7. It would be no problem if Freek wanted to be online, but his company will not allow it. A potential solution is that I schedule Freek in the evening, but the last time we met he said he wanted a morning lesson. With about 10 hours of work a week total between all of my assorted platforms and clients, it feels like a lot of shuffling and agonizing.

Conversation Playground started yesterday, and it’s a small group 6 students total. It’s also a little bit more convenient than the Karol Eijkman school. I went to the wrong Campus as there are two but only one of them is listed by Google. I got lucky and a teacher told me where to go, so I arrived in time, but the stress was annoying. With Freek back on my schedule, that means that I’m traveling out to Amstelveen twice a week. The English Center pays for the commute but the Conversation Playground does not. The owner of The Conversation Playground, Amardip, has said that I can use the classes from our summer session so that makes it much easier because then there is very little prep. Will have to see how it goes, but the group is easy to handle and the size makes it easy to remember everybody’s name. We also tested out the Escape Room App that Amardip is building and it seems to work quite well as least in theory, the reality in the classroom was a bit different. the students in this class are at a lower level and there was a lot more Dutch. The boys are at a higher level than the four boys but they’ll get there. The best of the bunch was a kid called Laurens whose dad is American. But I said to Amardip that I think it’s going to be a long two months.

Many hotels in Amsterdam had an open day on Thursday, so the writer’s group found itself back at the Hoxton. This was thanks to Marijn who gave us the tip. I was a bit surprised that she was able to get into the Hotel as she has not been vaccinated and they are requiring your Coronacheck app at the door. She said that is because she’s very tall and is able to make herself disappear using her invisibility power. The girl is cuckoo for cocoa puffs. She also has no idea about social etiquette and niceties. In the WhatsApp group when we were talking about whether people could go to the hotel if they were unvaccinated or no.t, she said that she was not participating in the apartheid and would go anyway. The comment blew everybody’s mind. She was using the term to mean being kept apart and classified. It’s bad enough in Dutch, it’s much worse in English. I had people come up to me at the meeting saying That they almost did not come to the meeting because of her. I am not really sure what to do about it. On the one hand she has nice tips and wants to be helpful, but on the other hand she could potentially be extremely divisive to the group. It is a conundrum to be sure. Even so, being at the Hoxton was very nice even if I didn’t get a lot of writing done. It’s always nice to meet new people and this time with no exception.

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