April 10, 2010

Saturday was a bit busy.

I had started to do this blog, and moved it into drafts. Then, forgot about it as the day progressed. A typical Saturday. Saturday has now become, officially for me, my busiest day of the week.

From the time I get up, there are so many things to do.

06:00 wake up and take photos upstairs
06:05 feed cats
06:10 make coffee
06:15 collect eggs on FarmVille
06:16 drink coffee
06:35 (yes, collecting eggs is a big task!) play a couple of other games to “wake up”
06:37 drink coffee
07:00 write blog
07:?? drink coffee and get another cupful
07:30 get material ready for morning classes
07:40 take shower and get dressed
08:00 refill coffee cup and head off to class
10:00 leave first class, head over to second class
11:30 leave class and go home for a break
12:30 go to Giraffe School to work on story-telling
15:30 leave Giraffe, head to next class
17:30 leave class, head off to last class
19:30 leave class, stop at home to drop off books
20:00 go out for dinner
21:30 get home, clean cat dishes, feed cats, clean litter, fill water bottles, flop out
22:00 *treat* watch a downloaded movie, “New Moon – Twilight”
00:00 nod off, then wake up just before end of movie, and comment how great it was (hahah)
00:30 fall asleep!
06:00 wake up and take photos upstairs

Except for minor differences to the daytime, basically, this is my life from Monday-Sunday. Exciting, huh? I could go through my whole week like this, but I think that you would all end up at 00:00 time spot! You’d wake up just before the end and tell me how exciting my day must have been. I’d look at you with a strange look, and that would be it.

As I’ve mentioned over and over, I really do enjoy my work. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed here as long as I have. Yes, like anything else, some days and classes are better than others, but, you gotta take the good with the bad… otherwise, the good wouldn’t be good!

Even though Saturdays are busy days, I really do like Saturdays. I enjoy getting to my first class with Ray, and watching him slowly wake up. If I can get talking about something he’s into, he wakes up faster. Lately, it’s been about Facebook and HIS obsession with “Fish Tank” or something like that. I constantly see at least, 50 messages a day about something he’s done on this game. He starts to laugh, then looks over at the laptop, fiddles around for a couple of minutes, and suddenly, 5 more messages pop up on my iPhone Facebook app, all from Ray!

The next class is a group of 10 or 11 girls who just don’t want to do anything – NOTHING! A couple of years ago, this was a great group of kids. Now, they’re finishing up grade 6 (Elementary school), and in the fall will be going to Jr. High. For those parents out there, you can almost imagine what these girls are like. I need go no further.

The next class is incredible! These kids are a bit younger, grade 5’s mostly, but a couple of grade 6 kids. We have SO MUCH fun in this class! Where the class before, the time drags by, in this class, there isn’t enough time! They’re responsive, eager, try to participate, laugh at each other and themselves… this is what makes teaching all worthwhile!

I get home for about an hour, and every other Saturday, I have a 1-hour class. This was the other Saturday, so Janice and I are ‘tweaking’ the stories for the story-telling contest. After this, these Saturdays will be devoted to training the winning readers to really ‘tell a story’. Personally, this is the part of the process that I enjoy the most. Getting the kids to tell a story, not just memorize words. Understand it, get some feeling into it, make the audience listen to them. Two years ago, 2 out of 4 of our students won the national contest. Last year, 3. This year, my goal is for all 4 to at least win one of top 3 prizes!

So, after getting the ‘tweaking’ done, files updated and saved, off to see Banner.

Banner is a new student. His father is an American, his mother is Taiwanese. He has no brothers or sisters. Both parents are English teachers, and speak to him A LOT in English at home. The interesting thing about this kid, is that, his speaking ability is superb! However, he cannot read to save his life. I find that most intriguing. His writing is very typical of kids his age that I deal with every day. Saturday was his third class with me. According to his mother, he spends a lot of time on the homework that I give him. Not that I give a lot, but when you’re sitting with a student for 90 minutes, they get a lot more attention from the ‘teacher’, and yes, homework is assigned. As well, I’m sure his mom (more so than dad), insists that he does his homework.

Now, I’ve been asked this a couple of times. Why would mom and dad, who are both English teachers, and who speak English at home, want another foreign teacher to tutor him? Good question.

Let’s do a little reminiscing first. When I was in school way back when the world was born, there were teachers who had children of their own. It was, to my recollection, and living in London, general practice that the parent could not teach at the school in which their children were students. Understandable from both aspects. Who wants mom or dad giving you your grades? What parent wants to fail their child in a class, or worse, have to explain to administration why their child is doing much better than the class average.

Back to Banner. This is kind of how his parents feel. Sure, they are teachers, but they are also his parents. Banner is not a typical kid, as I’ve discovered so far. He’s responsive, he seems eager to learn, and he has a lot of questions. There is nothing worse than having a kid or a class sit there and stare at you, and you left wondering whether they understand or even care. He is a good kid.

Mom mentioned something that I understand completely, and it sort of goes back to the previous paragraph. Because of his questions, sometimes parents don’t have enough time to answer or explain. Sometimes, because they are teachers, hearing the same questions from your child, can be a bit, ‘annoying’?? I’m sure, like any parent, they love him dearly, but, they can’t be teachers all the time.

For this reason, Banner has started to drop down in his English grades, and mom and dad are a bit concerned. They realize that perhaps another tutor can help him, where they would get frustrated, or just plain tired! Enter me. I can appreciate mom and dad’s situation, and I can also understand Banner’s situation. I’m there to answer his questions, help him with his work, and being that he is a private student, he has my undivided attention. This is his time.

Mom mentioned yesterday that he was ‘concerned’ and nervous about having a foreign teacher. Was he speaking good enough? Did I understand him? My response, to mom, yes. I think, after yesterday’s class, that he is going to be a great student, and I look forward to helping him get better. I’m getting him to start writing, explaining English grammar rules, learning new words, and reading. He is going to be one of those handful of kids, that I will remember for a long time.

More student profiles in the future.


1 Comment

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One response to “April 10, 2010

  1. Bilbet

    Here’s another deep thought for you. Why not get your students to get themselves penpals from English speaking countries? It used to work great back in the good old days.

    Just the kids speaking and learning from other kids, rather interesting actually. I used to have them from all over the world.

    Like I said it was just a thought. Good article and glad you are using some photos.

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