Perfect Pronunciation and (Another) Student Surfeit

This week at Inkreadable, dear readers, proved to be quite interesting on a couple of different levels. You all might not know that I am at time management guru and can pretty much do quite a lot In the space of five minutes. I mean that literally. Working for  VIPKid has taught me that I can do laundry or at least put it in the washer or the dryer in five minutes as well as take a bathroom break and possibly even eat something. What’s the reason for this, you ask? It’s simple. I used to be able to speak my texts into my phone to leave feedback to students and largely do that in the five minutes between my classes. I now type my feedback through the classes and submit it before the class is over and that way I can actually take a five minute break. As a result I can do quite a lot in the five minutes. That time management extends to every part of my life and I’m pretty well able to schedule my week of lessons starting from the Friday before.

Remember when I was having trouble figuring out how to teach pronunciation with Katya last week? My colleague Regina gave me the absolutely wonderful idea of doing a lesson on the schwa sound and it worked really well. Largely because I made funny faces and stuck my tongue out a lot.  In last night’s class, we worked on much and many, as well as countable and uncountable nouns. I know that’s not really pronunciation, but it is a major focus of one of the things that Polish speakers of English do. But I am confident that I can incorporate some pronunciation into the lesson. And since I have incorporated different media into the lesson including a film and games as well as the grammar Katya seems to remain engaged.

With my adult student who is in Poland, I have crafted lessons around the grammar points but I=in the context of different topics that my student enjoys. As they are an hour it’s not terribly difficult to fill them up with different things. I have found a system that works for me and that makes it helpful. And while it’s not the conventional Celta formation of classes, it works just fine. There is a warmer, control practice, and independent study within The lesson. I do try to make it worth the students time and money they pay me. Luckily we have some of the same interests so it’s been interesting crafting  a conditionals lesson through superstitions.

Over in VIPKid land, things are not as wonderful as it seems of the 32 hours that I’m opening I still only get about 18-20.  I got so annoyed about this that I sent them a ticket. The response I got was:

Hi Teacher Katerina,

Thank you so much for your email.

We are sorry to hear that you are also affected with low booking and we understand that you wanted to know why. We truly appreciate your dedication to teach more student. Please keep in mind that having a lot of booking or trial bookings is a parent decision. As we check in your profile, we can see that your account is regular that means nothing wrong with your profile. Your slot are also visible to every students and parents.Please know that most of the student are now returning to school. This cause low booking to most of the teacher. We have taken note of your request to teach more classes.Lets work together to achieved a good booking. We hope this action will help you get more booking and we are excited to see you teaching more classes.If you need assistance do not hesitate to email us and we are more than happy to assist you.

Warm regards,

Aquiles

VIPKID

Thanks for nuthin’ VIPKid. I really wish that VIPKid would freeze teacher hiring and give a chance for their current teachers to see a spike in bookings. I’m not the only one complaining, and as you can see VIP is also aware. In fact, this was a topic and Sunday nights zoom drinks with 7 other VIPKid teachers from across Europe. Those are going well. And they are a lot of fun. We have gotten around the 40 minute zoom rule by simply going back into the meeting and enjoying ourselves for a further 40 minutes. We did that three times which I think is a perfect length for a meeting. 8 to 10 and done. That is Amsterdam time zone otherwise known as central European summertime. Which is actually a big time zone. But still, there were people who could not figure out time zones and so we had a lot of people not able to attend. Facebook indicated that we could set up a meeting without a time zone so that everybody will see the schedule meeting in their own time zone. But I do not know how to do that.

Over at the English Center, I am happily teaching my private clients in the city center and we are maintaining a suitable distance as well as using lots of hand gel and washing our hands a lot. Instead of it being my two real estate guys, it is my one real estate guy and his son. So I’ve had to modify the lessons so that they’re a little bit tailored to both of them. For example last night we talked about prepositions and I got to show some super cool videos and play some games. The games, one a posing game, where one person goes out of the room another person poses and the students write down what they see. They then try to tell the student who was outside the room how to achieve the same pose. Is great with more students but worked ok with just the three of us. “Where is the…” worked in person as well as working online. In it you take an object and put it in different places and have the students explain where they are.

On Friday of last week, I was asked to welcome a fourth student into the PIE class that I’m running. I was excited because that makes an even number of students if she attends.  If so I could have started using the breakout room feature on zoom which I haven’t been able to as yet. But alas, the student opted to wait until the summer to take the course. It’s just as well. I mean she had missed 3 lessons so far.

You remember that I sent an email to my clients in the suburbs in Amsterdam but got no response from either my young man in the north or the one that I teach in Amstelveen about starting classes early. I have reached out multiple times to the young man’s parents, But no response. I’m wondering how much I should push the issue. There is also been no response from the client in Amstelveen and I’m not sure how far to push that either. These are all problems for another day.

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

Class Confirmed and Creative Critique

It was, dear readers, a rather nerve-racking week at Inkreadable. In fact, it was probably more nerve-racking than the previous two weeks where I was waiting to hear about that gig at the conversation playground that never materialized. You see, I had hoped that I would have a class scheduled for the English Center by at least Tuesday evening. But that was not to be. I did not get notification that I was teaching until Wednesday evening. For a Thursday class. All I can say is, thank goodness, that it was a class that I had taught twice before and didn’t have too much preparation to do in terms of each class. What was a little frightening was sending a letter to the students with some useful links and the like as well as procedures, and having one of my students answer that she wanted me to have our first contacts in either Spanish or Dutch. But, it’s an English class I thought. And as I don’t speak either of those languages, either at all in the case of Spanish, or comfortably enough to write in it with any fluency as is the case with Dutch. Still I ran it through a decent translator and sent it off and she seemed to be happy with that. But if you’re going to try and take a language you should try to speak that language is what I think.

There was also good news on the COVID-19 front here in the Netherlands and we are going to start teaching in-person private lessons starting this coming week. I am a little bit concerned as that means that Jasper has a higher chance of issues but I am so sick and tired of being in my house and seeing my in real life students on the computer screen that I am willing to take the chance. These two students are best friends and have been spending time with each other and their families. I think I can safely assume that neither one of them is carrying COVID-19, but will take precautions just in case. We are going to maintain a one and a half meter distance between each other and I’m going to try and teach a class like that. If it doesn’t work we can always go back to the online model if we need to. I also took the precaution of sending a letter to my other student with English Center who I’m supposed to see in September. He might want to start a bit earlier now that we’ve relaxed restrictions and figured I would give him that option if he wants. So it may be that I will be heading out to Amstelveen as well. That’s gonna be a bit of trouble as we’re going to have to start wearing masks On public transport after 1 June and I don’t have one. But there’s no point in worrying about that just now as I haven’t heard whether he wants lessons in person earlier than 1 September.

Remember how I said I wasn’t going to have a problem teaching pronunciation to Katya? I was wrong. While there is a hell of a lot of stuff online about pronunciation, making it engaging for a nine-year-old is extremely difficult. I could feel that she was bored by the end of our first lesson and couldn’t wait to get out of there. And I couldn’t really blame her. I’m going to have to try and figure out how to make pronunciation interesting and relevant online. Because while tongue twisters are fun and they do teach pronunciation they are much more fun in person. Ditto with games. I think I’m going to have to call in reinforcements And really what that means is I’m just gonna call Regina. She also teaches kids nearly full-time and online so maybe she has some ideas.

We had our first critique group on Wednesday evening last week and it went really well. I got some really interesting critique and was happy to give good critique to another member of the group. I got some very interesting feedback about my own writing that I hadn’t considered and would have to possibly change quite a few things to be able to make the writing more fluid. But that’s exactly why I asked for critique. I am not sure that I’m gonna keep all the suggestions but that’s what critique it is isn’t it? It’s a suggestion and the author has to know what critique to save and what critique to let go. After all, a work in progress has to end sometime and you have to be calm enough to know when that is, as well as when to say enough is enough and go ahead and publish. For me it’s a little bit more simple I’m having some trouble writing myself out of a corner and also ending the novel. It doesn’t help that my process is disruptive in this time of COVID-19 and I can’t do any writing in my house. I simply don’t have that discipline.

The loosening of regulations is happening in the Netherlands gradually. Starting this week we are able to go get haircuts, do our nails, go get massages, and go to the library. I suspect that also means that I can go to the bookstore as well. But all of these have population restrictions. We can only be 30 people at a time in any place. But even with that I am extremely excited because it means that I can go do things like get my hair done. I look like a witch. I do not gray well.

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

Winding down and Ramping Up

This week at Inkreadable dear readers, was fairly quiet. You know from my last post, that VIPKid has been almost nonexistent, at least for me. From five hours a day to less than two. Last week was a hiatus for me with the English Center as they are between group classes and 27 April was a holiday here in the Netherlands. I suspect that most of my Dutch clients were out on a boat somewhere, maintaining a suitable social distance. My other Dutch private client, who I thought I had convinced to try and take an online lesson so that we could finish our 13 lessons in his package, has opted not to. His boss, who is paying for the lesson, feels that online security is not what it should be and is afraid of us taking lessons. I’m fine with that, but I have to ask myself what kind of security does a building corporation need for an English lesson? I mean it’s not as though we were talking about state secrets or even how many bags of cement my client purchases. Oh well, it just means that come September I will have 13 lessons to give, And that means 13 hours of income to look forward to. Still, it was a busy week as for me the week was full of planning for Karolina and Katya.

That’s right. Katya’s mom got back to me and we started pronunciation lessons last night. They went well as I have found many resources online for pronunciation. It’s been a bit of a challenge trying to adapt pronunciation exercises for kids. It involves quite a bit of reading and quite a bit of listening. We have tentatively scheduled eight lessons that will take us through my birthday. We will see if she is able to keep to a schedule. Particularly as she has quite a few commitments of her own. Still, I’m super excited to see her as she is one of my favorite students.

By far the most interesting portion of last week, was the fact that we started a critique group offshoot of the writer’s group online. We are currently five people, and are open to more but I think five is a good number to start with. We are also members of the writing group on Thursday but this will focus on actually reading peoples’ work and talking about it as opposed to what we do on Thursday which is just type together. And drink. There is drinking involved. We spent about an hour and 45 minutes talking about how we want to structure the group. It was a productive session and we decided to model it a bit on both the Washington and Edinburgh groups I that I ran. We are going to read things in advance for now because it’s hard to read out loud online, with the intention of meeting in person at some point when all of this COVID-19 business is at a more manageable level. I am really excited to have my work critiqued, but also have a bit of trepidation as Jasper’s cousin Ilana has already read my submission and has lots and lots of notes she says. Still I have a thick skin and I can handle most things.

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

VIPKid (And Almost Everything Else) Vacancy

I am not even sure where to start, dear readers. I suppose it’s best to start at the beginning, with the title, which like many things, has a double meaning. The week started off well enough. I finished up with my pre-intermediate class giving my last student her four hours that were owed. I had my second lesson with my student from Poland and she seems to be enjoying the things we are working on. Also, I was excited to see that Katya’s mom might want to start pronunciation lessons with me. Though I’m not sure as she hasn’t gotten back to me as yet about scheduling. But I was really excited to be able to help. I have missed Katya’s exuberance. I think I may have made a bit of a mistake as I mentioned to her mom that I was starting to think that online English platforms were not all that effective as a lot of my level fours and level fives can barely read. I hope she didn’t take that amiss and decides not to have classes with me.

But everything started to go a little pear-shaped late Monday night. You see, dear readers, I forgot to open for the frenzy. Actually, it wasn’t that I forgot. I was waiting to hear about a potential teaching gig that involves a Boot Camp with Dutch kids who want to play games but speak English while doing it. I knew about this potential job about three weeks back. I also knew that there was no guarantee that the work would come through. But I thought that I would be able to not open for the frenzy on Sunday into Monday, and instead open on Monday evening when I knew something and still be fully booked. Nope. Not the case. Never have I seen a sea of blue with so many open slots. I even took the precaution of letting my parents that I have on WeChat know and still nothing. Nothing is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not a complete sea of blue, Out of 34 hours opened, 13 have booked. But still it almost feels like next week is a bit of a vacation for me unless something books short notice. I have learned a lesson here. I cannot afford to keep my slots open after frenzy. They will not book. It’s the age old problem of too many teachers, not enough students and the early bird getting the worm. Which I wasn’t. So we had lots have lots of vacancies on my schedule in the literal sense. As I watched my next week bookings not really increase or stay stable, I started to panic. The panic edged into my weekend and there things really got dicey.

On Saturdays, I have a bit of a routine. I attend a couple of different meetings via Zoom from about 9:30 in the morning until about 11:40 in the morning. This past Saturday, I had accidentally opened up my 11 AM slots to classes and they booked last week. In the middle of this week they opened back up and I closed them so that I could attend my second morning meeting which is optional. But it’s actually a coffee via Zoom with people that I like. So I was pleased to get a bit of social interaction that wasn’t Jasper. Not a problem, I thought. I was going swimmingly on Saturday morning with both meetings attended and enjoyed. And then the shit really hit the fan. I had asked Jasper to look at some technical things that was happening with my computer. And. Forgot. To. Wear. My. Fitbit. Thus, we were blithely going over my tech issues, and I thought that I had until 1 PM which was my first class. It. Wasn’t. I forgot that I had opened up classes at 12, and the first slot from 12 to 1230 booked. At 12:17 I looked at the clock and realized that I was 17 minutes late into my first class. By that time, it was too late and I had already been given a teacher no-show as well as docked by $10. I did send a card to the student and asked about getting a soft or medium cancellation as I was having personal issues. Or at least that’s the reason that I gave VIPKid. I hold very little hope, however that I will get a soft or medium cancellation. It threw the rest of Saturday into a tailspin. I spent the rest of the day discombobulated and unable to concentrate. I got to my other three classes but I do feel that I wasn’t at my best. So we have a schedule vacancy and now a brain one. I was quite happy when Sunday rolled around and I was able get back in the swing of things mostly. I hope that my student, whose name is Ocean, can forgive me. I can content myself that at least they can’t give me a bad review for a course they haven’t taken. But I am heartily tired of blue schedules. I hope this VIPKid vacancy doesn’t last much longer. The vacancy does extend a little bit to the English Center, where I have now finished up with pre-intermediate and have a little bit of a break between I teach the next cycle starting May 7. That vacancy, unlike the brain fart with VIPKid, and the sea of blue that is my current schedule is, thankfully, temporary.

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

Class Confusion and a Class “Confirmed”

I can categorically say, dear readers, that it has been the week from hell here at Inkreadable. I find that with COVID-19, the days are blending so that I don’t know which way is up. I am also finding that while my work being online is no trouble, my social life is in great difficulty. And by this I mean, not seeing my friends necessarily, but my physical health as I can’t go to the gym. It is troublesome and causing me to forget time.

No where is this more evident then with VIPKid. The students in my classes are starting to feel all alike and all making the same mistakes, from level 2 through level 5. My feedback has no change or interesting content, and I can barely remember the things that I’m doing well in the classroom. It’s fortunate that I’m naturally able to act like an ass for 25 minutes as that seems to be good for my students and I keep getting five Apple reviews as a result. But still, problems are on the horizon as the holes that we are seeing are on the upswing. For example, of the 20 hours that I booked the previous week only 15 of them filled and they slowly dwindled to 10. I have been able to open more hours this week and possibly next week as I am not currently teaching for the English center except for Mondays. I hope that this trend does not continue and I’m able to have some bookings. Particularly week after next where I am not planning on opening anything until sometime later this week.

I will say that my discombobulation has been at its worst and at its height with the English Center. Which brings me to the thought that I hope that nobody there reads this post. But honestly, I would be honest if they did and tell them that the days feel like they are blending together and that every days the same. I don’t think in this situation they will count it against me. But, you never know. With the English Center, the issue has been trying to figure out when in fact my class is ending. I and my students, were under the impression that the class ended for everybody on 23 April. I was wrong. It ended for two of my students on 16 April as they had already had four hours with Regina before they were transferred to me as overflow students. I did contact my boss because I suspected that one of my students would give me push back and be upset that he wasn’t getting the last two lessons. But they aren’t his lessons to receive. They belong only to the student who started with me on 24 February. My boss actually said that I could go ahead and get free lessons to this client if he gave me trouble. So I sent one email saying classes were ending for the two people on the 16th. Then sent an email saying never mind they could take the class. And then sent a third and final email saying that in fact I was wrong and the class was over. I did get an annoyed email from the student, but explained that I was getting information from two different sources and still got a little bit confused. I haven’t heard from him so I’m assuming that he is OK with stopping classes. In the meantime, I have offered to switch the schedule for the last student so that she can start taking the B1 course that Regina and I campaigned so hard for. So it looks like Regina will have at least one of my students, possibly even three. This is my hope anyway. Because we were told that if we did not have five students in the new class it would not go ahead. Fingers crossed that it does.

While all of the group course back-and-forth was going on, I checked my schedule and happened to go too far back in the year and got confused as to whether one of my students had taken a class, canceled the class, canceled on time or canceled late. I decided to leave it alone and not worry about it as it was back in February. I’m going to have to figure out how many classes he is owed once we start meeting again. We literally haven’t met since 9 March. Or possibly the 16th. Who remembers now. See what I mean about the days are blending together?

Which brings us to the second part of my title today. Confirmed is in quotation marks because while I was perusing that self same calendar and getting confused with my student, I noticed that I had been scheduled for a pre-intermediate English class that starts on May 7. But confirmed needs to be in quotes because as of last week there was still only one person interested in the class. If we keep to the model of five students make a class, they are 80% short. Fingers crossed that this also goes through and that I do have a class on 7 May. It will solve a couple of problems for me. In the first place, I got another class to teach which is always good cause I can always use the hours,the practice, and n the money. It will also allow me to give a more consistent schedule to VIPKid when I open the same slots that I have been opening essentially since January. Fingers crossed that that kicks off as well and then I have a little less VIPKid and a little bit more normal adult interaction.

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

Class Convincing and Nanonuthin’

Well, dear reader, it was fun while it lasted. This week is the penultimate week of my pre-intermediate English overflow class. I’m not sure if you remember how I started teaching this class, but it seemed that they had a waiting list for pre-intermediate English and they felt they had enough people to have a second pre-intermediate class for the session. Which is how I got it. Another teacher, we’ll call her Regina, who I am friends with, has the original session. It was natural For the two of us to be at the forefront of training other teachers who don’t have as much experience teaching online. She has been teaching with SayABC for a year and of course I have been with VIPkid and teaching on my own for the last three years. But Regina is, on some level much more enterprising than I am. She has approached TEC and told them that her students want to continue with her. She was kind enough to tell me that she had done that and so I also approached my students. They have also said that they want to stay together and with me as their teacher, but TEC has told us that we must have five people minimum to be able to continue with the second pre-intermediate class. So I spent this weekend reaching out to former students trying to drum up more business. As of This writing, I have heard from only one of my Amstelveen students that I wrote and he can’t take a class. I also have a dilemma. I have many students that I have taught online in different countries. Do I tell them about the online classes for English center? And try to convince them to come into my class? Or do I leave them for myself because they may just come back to me. On the one hand I could probably teach the pre-intermediate class by convincing former students to come in, but on the other hand I would never be able to teach them again in private. Also, I have a new student of my own who I’m teaching online. She’s in Poland and wants high level conversational help and business level English.

I have found, dear reader, that my wish to write for camp Nanowrimo have fallen by the wayside. I am just not good at writing by myself. It seems that part of my process is hanging out with my friends at the bookstore and getting work done. I had not realize that part of my process is actually writing with people. I am much more productive in their company. And it isn’t that I have decided not to write at all, but it takes a lot more work to write on my own. Another change in the Writers group, is that we have started talking about doing a critique group at first online, and then in person possibly, once we are able to get together. I kind of feel that I want it to be on a night other than Thursday so that we don’t mess with the Thursday group.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. I’m sorry that it’s so short. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Internet Isolation and workable writing

This week at Inkreadable was one of intermittent isolation. I said intermittent, because while I spent most of last week alone, Jasper was with me for two days. We seem to have resolved at least one Internet issue by switching to Ziggo. A couple of years ago when I had Ziggo, Jasper would walk into my house and the internet fall out. That does not seem to be happening this year. We are both able to teach and work using the same signal and it doesn’t seem to be particularly unstable. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.

The isolation, however, is starting to get to even me. I did not realize how much I relished going to do my non-online things every week. That includes my trip out to Amstelveen to see my one student there, as well as my walk across the park to teach my Dutch guys. It’s just not the same online. With my Dutch guys it doesn’t help that I have only seen one of them and his son. The other one seems to be too busy to come to class as he is severely affected by the current crisis. His main source of income is wholesale food real estate. And it is not a good time to be in food right now. It seems that rent forgiveness is much more of a problem in the food wholesale business then is in the residential sector. I have been enjoying the substitution of my other students nine-year-old son. He and I have been having a good time exploring the different online games that one can learn English with. It’s also been an eye-opener for me because I can use it with other students.

This week marked the beginning of the April camp Nanowrimo and I’m happy to report that I am hitting my goals for the camp. They are as follows: I am hoping to do some serious editing of the current phase of the novel, but also trying to write myself out of a corner. I seem to have a really hard time coming up with new and fresh ideas for the book. So I set myself mini goals every day. Currently it’s 500 words each day and 20 minutes of editing. I’ve been able to make that happen. So the writing really is workable.

The current news regarding the Netherlands and its response to COVID-19, is that we are going to be in isolation for another month at least. That means that the isolation isn’t going to end anytime soon and I’m only hopeful that I’ll have stuff to post over the next couple of weeks. But you might see a shortening of my posts as a result.

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

Online Organization and Nano (Camp) rebel

Last week, dear readers, was the first week where I transitioned fully online. Every single class I have was managed either through Skype or Zoom. And the transition isn’t over. Starting in April I have more students coming online. My client out in the suburbs of Amsterdam, has, to my surprise, agreed to try a lesson online. As it’s an hour I think it will be absolutely fine. I think he’ll even enjoy using Skype to learn. Especially as he does not have to risk his health to come out and take a class. It will be a bit of a challenge, however, as I am finding it difficult to toggle between the platforms and the things that I am teaching, by which I mean my soft copies of all the documents that I use. I do find it’s much easier, and a little bit more fun to pass out papers in class. It isn’t very good for the environment however. And I do recognize that. Another challenge that I’m finding in this fully online world, is classroom management. I have some very challenging students in my adult Pre-intermediate class. In particular, one who thinks he knows everything and tries to challenge the teacher and defend his arguments, when all I really want him to do is answer the question and move on. But even that I can do it with a bit of aplomb and gentle joking with my student. It occurs to me, dear readers, That I haven’t spoken much about tech issues in the last couple of posts. That isn’t because I haven’t had any. I have had plenty. In fact, the KPN Service has been going out at least once or twice a week for the last two months. On Saturday the Internet went out at 10:30 in the morning and never came back. I was able to connect to the new providers router, and didn’t seem to have any issues in the living room where I teach, but in my bedroom the signal is quite weak. But it always has been so as long as I can teach I’ll be quite happy.

When I say that my whole life has transitioned online, I also mean my personal social life. I don’t mean Jasper. He and I have settled into a routine of him being with me from Saturday to Wednesday, and then he goes to some friends on Thursdays. I find this particularly funny because the friend is walking distance from me but Jasper prefers to go home, rather than to come back to me and spend the night. His house is 40 minutes away door to door. I find this a little bit illogical, but it’s his choice. It gives me a chance to set the house to rights in is absence. But the rest of my personal life is another story. I have a couple of friends who are also VIPKid teachers here in Amsterdam and we get together maybe once a month to hang out and talk. We took that to the next level on Friday night when we met online via Skype. It was an interesting experience meeting my friends boyfriend online, I haven’t met him in person yet. But also interesting because we were able to talk to each other for a full two hours. It was like a real night out.

April marks the beginning of the Amsterdam creative writers club foray into camp Nanowrimo. Several of us are actually going to participate, some of us will start a novel, but I will be true to my nature and I will be a Nana rebel. I am going to edit the hell out of my current novel as I can’t really remember where it was going in the first place. When you get 140 pages into a book, without an outline, you tend to forget where the book was going. Or at least I do. Sometimes as I read further in the book or I’m working on a scene, I get a niggling sensation that something isn’t right. That there’s something earlier in the book that makes what I’m writing at the moment wrong Or if not wrong, at least somewhat implausible. I’m kind of looking forward to giving myself a bit of a schedule. Let’s see if I can maintain it. I plan on starting on April 1 And seeing how far I can get. I had started this process as we were meeting at the bookstore before all of this corona crazy. And I think the best bet is just to continue with it. That way I can see if there’s something that I need to do to change what’s happening. The story is tight and the events make sense, but there’s always room for improvement. I know that the time will come when I can no longer keep this as a work in progress but have to finish it at some point. But that time is not today. But it could be this year.

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

My Zoomily and Other Animals

Welcome to Inkreadable’s 100th post, dear readers! Thank you for sticking with me for 100 weeks!

This past week, dear readers, was spent transitioning to a fully online world. Well, mostly. I still go to the park (I haven’t found a virtual way to attend a park yet), and I still make sure to go to the grocery store. I am not one of those people who has stocked up on millions of rolls of toilet paper, nor do I stock up on anything really. I think that’s because I don’t have the space to stock up on anything anyway. But the rest of my life, is definitely all online.

VIPKid’s starting to look like it did before Coronavirus. That is, I have a lot of holes in my schedule. And it’s funny because the kids are still inside and they say they haven’t gone out. At least not for long periods of time apparently. Many of my students are telling me that they go to the park for about an hour and they were face masks when they go out. I wish we could wear face masks here but we can’t find them. And even if I could find them I probably wouldn’t buy it anyway. I’m one of those people who believes that the people that need access to masks are the people in the medical profession. I also think that China has taken social distancing to the next level. Nobody is going out. There is no maintenance of a one and a half meter distance because there is no need. Nearly everything has been delivered to them. Anyhoo, this post was about Zoom and VIPKid has always used Zoom as a platform, but it’s easy because they do all the bells And whistles for you.

What has proven a little bit more difficult is trying to figure out Zoom in the context of the English Center and how to use it for group classes. I found myself in the ridiculous position of having to train other people in Zoom last week. It’s laughable, I know. Me, the least tech person in the world, leading a class of 11 teachers on Zoom. Let’s just say the classroom management was ridiculous. and I do hope that my class of four to six is much easier to manage than the 11 teachers that joined the meeting. The English Center has provided a paid membership for us so that we can have our classes, since the free version only allows a 40 minute meeting length. My classes will be 8 classes of 2 1/2 hours, And two classes at the normal two hour for the Pre-intermediate starting on 24 March.

On the personal side of my life, the Writers Group is already online or at least virtual as it’s kind of counterproductive to sit there and listen to people type, but the American writers group that I founded is fully online and I have been invited to participate. Unfortunately, I can’t really manage the time zone as the meeting from 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the morning my time. I suppose I could go to sleep early and then wake up for it. But I’m not sure I want to do that. Even Weightwatchers here in Amsterdam has gone online and we are having our English language meeting on Saturday mornings at 10, but virtually of course on Zoom. That was an experience this past weekend.

All in all, it hasn’t been bad for me, and while I’m a little cabin feverish, I’m not going stir crazy. Yet.

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

Covid19 Consequences

It seems, dear reader, that the dream is gone. Covid19 had a couple of advantages for me over the last few weeks. Every VIPKid slot that I opened booked. And I was opening from 8 AM until 2 PM. The money was quite nice. Alas, no longer. It looks like the Chinese government has restricted certain segments of the population but the kids are now starting to go outside. As a result, I have seen a drop in bookings. For example, on Sunday I only taught eight classes out of twelve opened. And while it was nice to be done at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I kind of wish that I was able to get some short notice bookings. Oh well, better the certainty of $11 for a class versus the uncertainty of $13 for a class because if it doesn’t book that you get no money at all.short notice. If it books it’s $13, but if not it’s $0. So better a certain $11 than an uncertain $13.

Covid19 has changed my IRL classes as well. My Monday morning clients are switching to Skype, but my Amstelveen client wants to suspend until April 6. I was going to start teaching a second pre-intermediate English class starting today, but that has been postponed to next Tuesday and has transitioned to online. That means less VIPKid time. Which lessens that chance of a penalty if my internet goes out. I have been lucky so far that it has gone out in the evening and not while I was teaching. I have been taking the percussion to restart the modem every morning before teaching I’ve decided that I don’t really love being forced to stay in the house. And though the Netherlands was fairly copicetic, they have now locked down the country. Only grocery stores and essential stores are open.

My former students are always on my radar and I periodically check in to see if they want lessons or even just to hang out. That is easy to do with your adult clients then it is to do with your kid clients. However, Katya’s mom in Poland actually gave me a really good Facebook recommendation for English lessons and I have gotten a couple of responses for that. We’ll see if it pans out into anything, and I think I’m going to have to set my prices at VIP kid level payment prices because it is a Polish customer and they might not have as much money to spend on lessons but we will have to see.

Lastly, as a result of Covid19, I have taken the heretofore unprecedented step of canceling the writer group for the moment. We have turned into a WhatsApp only group and have decided to meet online until April. It’s a shame really that the virus is causing such turmoil in the world, particularly in the Netherlands where the sun has started to shine after six months of darkness. It’s a big screw you from mother nature. I am off to wander through the park.

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