Look, this is the best job I have ever had, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish at least five times a day I could finally publish a bestseller and move to the other side of the globe and never do this ever again and only keep the students I love.
Two boys. I teach them at home. They drop everything. Constantly. Bang bang. The candy I bring them trickles on to the floor, slips from their fidgety hands and makes sharp, ticking sounds on the floor and the table. The same with anything else. If I don’t take stuff from them they will make annoying sounds with erasers, plastic bags, pencils, pokemon cards or everything plastic.
When I make them read they read in the most obnoxious voices and purposefully mispronounce every word. I get it. They don’t want to learn Dutch. They’d rather go back to playing video games. I get it. I hate it, but I get it.
The gig is well paid, in the end I am quite fond of these two boys, but boy, do I often wonder how a moderately educated person such as myself ended up using his modest talents to try and ram sone Dutch into two recalcitrant learners.
And these boys are not like the two girls I teach French to. I mean, those I just want to scream at and ban from using Tik Tok until they turn 18 in the hopes of saving their ever more vapid souls. I don’t even want to write about those. At least the two boys acknowledge my presence. When they are not farting, grappling with gravity of trying to bash each other’s brains in or screaming iiiiiiiiiiiii for no apparent reason other than that they miss their video games I even like them. The youngest one even has a remarkable social conscience, I have noticed. The two girls make me feel like a freak or like furniture. Am pretty sure they think am a freak. Who else would get excited about French on a Saturday morning? Normal people are watching tik tok videos or sleeping.
Then there is the frigging randomness of it all.
Let’s say I have three groups of beginners at a certain company. I have the same lesson prepared for all of them. It involves playing a card game. The point is to have fun and to teach them the modal verbs.
Obstacle: in one group one of them simply does not get the game. She does not understand it. And doesn’t understand that a game is a game because someone decided on the rules. This adult student asks the why of everything like a toddler would do. A game comes with rules, otherwise you have no game. Fun 101
In the end she adapts and the rest of them seem to enjoy themselves a lot.
In the last group one lets me know at the last moment he will join the class online. So now everything I have prepared for this lesson is impossible. In order to play this game you have to be physically present. So I improvise and teach them how to insult people in Dutch. Maybe because that’s exactly what I feel like doing right now, but I can’t, cause this is my business and am really pretty nice and considerate overall.
During the same lesson one who did show up for the class tells me he is actually home officing, but he came to work specifically to see me and gives me a gift. On the one hand I want to curse and on the other hand I am quite touched. The jojo adventure that is private teaching. With a world wide pandemic to make it all extra fun.
Like one company wanted all their classes to take place online all of a sudden, just as an exercise in case there would be a lockdown. This may sound trivial, but there are a ton of consequences. I can’t begin to explain how many. The exercise was supposed to last two weeks, but after the first lesson my students manage to convince the management to scrap the online lessons and return to face to face lessons. So, I adapt. Again.
Sometimes I feel like am in some sort of war zone. With the enemy sniping stress bolts at my heart and blood pressure.
I could take on less classes, but then me and my family would get nowhere.
Bratislava (renamed Stressislava) is a fucking expensive city.
These were just a few items on the list of what makes this job chaotic. I would say that 50 percent of the time something happens which makes sure I cannot have the lesson I am prepared for and through circumstances outside of my control I need to improvise.
In the end I enjoy my job more than I hate it and I never meet anyone who has a more fulfilling job than I have. I swear I prefer teaching over lying on a beach and sipping cocktails or most other activities that seem to be the pinnacle of human fun, but man, do I wish I could do more to diminish the sprawling CHAOS that comes with this job.
Am not even mentioning all the times that my lessons become therapy sessions with sobbing students (which I can totally handle) or the times I have to deal with students who become my stalkers and have psychological disorders… It’s all art of the jojo game.
Blog post written standing in a tram and walking through town.
Being productive in ANY circumstances has become second nature.