Work - what I actually do!
One of the reasons for my exhaustion is work. My current schedule zips from me getting up very early to not getting up until mid to late morning.
Just to be straight though: I love teaching. I just wish I had a bit more control over what I do and where I do it. However, I have been looking at the bigger picture and things are starting to be a bit less of a blur. In theory.
Anyway, I thought I'd ramble on a bit about my typical work week to give you and idea of what it's like.
On Tuesdays I have a bit of a trek to a kindergarten. I like the kindy although I could live without the trek... In the morning I teach groups off 22 4-year olds and have a Japanese teacher to help me. At this age they have so much energy and enthusiasm. And they're so well behaved! It's a bit of an odd one, because normally with this age group I'd do some kind of craft activity, but the sessions are split so I get 25-minutes to give a lesson and then do a further joint 25-minute lesson with the headmistress of the kindy. It's basically just lots of songs, games and shouting... and I love the attention I get walking around the school with kids yelling 'hello Jo-sensei' at me. Even kids I don't know! Anyway, I do two different sets of kids for these classes.
In the afternoons I teach classes there using our company's texts. I have seven 6-year olds, for 50-minutes, who are really cool kids and pretty well behaved. It's a fun class with the normal lot of games and activities I'd throw at any kids this age.
Then I have four 8-year olds for 45-minutes. One of them, a girl, is lovely. The boys can be little shits, if I'm honest, although they've calmed down a bit in the couple of weeks. One of the problems is they can't read yet - which limits activities a little. The other problem is they just won't bloody listen! Hopefully the flicker of them calming down will continue though.
The final class I have there are three rather quiet 11-year olds who are totally unenergetic and would probably rather be somewhere else. Rather annoyingly their lesson is only thirty minutes so it's a bit of a struggle to accommodate everything that needs to be done.
I then trek back home and normally fall asleep on the train.
Wednesdays are doing my head in. Since February, when the college finished, the company has basically had me on cover days meaning I'm doing something different every Wednesday. The notes I get from other teachers are basically crap so it's an exhausting day of guess work not knowing what the students may or may not be capable of. On the one hand, nobody expects cover teachers to give a shit, but on the other it can be pretty annoying. Especially when there's lots of travel involved to get there.
But on the other hand, I have taught some lovely students on these days, so it's not all bad.
Thursdays are odd. For nine months I've had classes in the evening in an office: one beginners class with two male students - one of whom is rather bloody cute, that I really enjoy teaching as they're so enthusiastic. Then a pre-intermediate class with one cute guy and one dull-as-dust-speak-in-one-word-answers kind of guy. I don't particularly enjoy teaching them. And finally an intermediate group of two guys and one woman. This class is pretty lively and they're really nice people and take learning English pretty seriously.
The reason Thursdays are odd is because I was given this evening gig to fit in with the college schedule. To be in the area for 5.30pm is a real problem if the company wants me to do any other work in the day beforehand. Which basically means, I get the occasion bit of examining or cover beforehand but, more often than not, I'm totally free until I need to trot up there.
Pretty good, no?!
Fridays I have a regular teaching day in one of our schools. It's a pretty cool day. A few private adult classes - all of whom I really like, one group which had two students but lost one last week and is gaining two new ones tomorrow, so could be interesting. Oh and the BEST kids class ever.
The best kids class ever consists of two sprogs I absolutely adore. A six-year old girl and a seven-year old boy. The reason I love them so much is they can read (kind of) but, more to the point, they shut up, listen and learn and are up for everything I throw at them.
For example, recently we've been into full-on roll plays. Two weeks ago I had them roll-playing a restaurant scene using quite a lot of language. We started off by making our own menus and revising the language. I then taught them to ask how much something was and taught them big numbers (something which we never normally do with kids for some reason) and made a load of 'money' for them to play with. They then got on with it and came up with things along the lines of: hello, hello, are you thirsty, yes, i am, can i have a cola please, yes, here you are. are you hungry? yes, i am. can i have a pizza? no, sorry. i don't have pizza. would you like spring rolls? yes please. here you are. thank you. how much is it? it's 5,000 yen please. etc.
Pretty good considering it was pretty much unprompted, don't you think?
Great fun! They then went into reception and started doing the same with the parents. I was so proud. Great kids!
On Saturdays I also have a regular school. In the morning I have one 3.5 hour lesson with five pre-intermediate adults. The key to this group is they seem to actually like each other and listen to and interact with each other. You'd be amazed how often students in group classes don't do this! Some teachers hate intensive lessons like these (the course lasts ten weeks) but I love them as they're pretty relaxed and we can do so much.
In the afternoon I have one 9-year old kid who can't read and who I have in a small room with a big table so we can't even move around that much. Progress is a little slow, but she's quite a sweet kid.
I also have a few private adult classes which are pretty easy to deal with. One of these is rather odd. It's an old guy learning English from an American correspondence course. Every week he has me reading the texts to him so he can record them and then practice at home without the American accent. Most strange. On the other hand, means I don't have to ever prepare his lesson. We also talk about the language of the texts a bit and anything else he wants really!
And that's my week generally!