Thursday, April 28, 2005

Flux and Fuzz

Ah, ti~me is on my side, yes it is~ Well, things are pretty nice right now.

My interview at King's School was pretty interesting but ultimately has not given me a third term position. It has been the interview where I have got the most encouragement though - he said he would like me to work at his school but not now with the positions that are open. He has kept my CV in the hope (mine and his) that there will be opportunities knocking at the end of the year.

Ping-pong is consuming my afternoons but I am enjoying it and it is a good workout too. With my confidence in my foot rising it is nice to reclaim some of my fitness. I might extend it somehow. I am also keen to donate blood some time soon... My blood feels kinda rich, full of energy.

On the other hand, my preparation for my afternoon class, formerly the jewel in my teaching crown, has suffered in terms of preparation. Still excellent and the students have had a ball, but as the teacher, I should be more confident with my materials before going in. My morning class, compared to when I first came back are almost teaching masterpieces. Except for the time the assessor came in... oh dear.

Anyway, with the tide I go out~

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Life without sugar is interestingly different. You find that sugar does indirectly make you sleepy, and that sugar in the diet begets sugar in the diet.

The ping-pong has changed a lot at school. Another former teacher has been welcomed back to the fold, and he was very good at ping-pong. It took him two days to get his form back. The day before he really got back into it I thrashed him 5-1. Then things changed as he dismantled everyone else, camping at one end of the ping-pong table. Getting him into a doubles match and pairing him with a weaker partner was the best way to supplant him. I played him on Friday afternoon and managed to valiantly lose 3-6, with many defeats that had me struggling to get passed 10 (in first to 21 matches).

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Man, this week seems so long. I was glad to have an early night on Monday night but all that has been forgotten as a pub quiz, late nights and long days have come down on top of me. I will have my 11th observer for the week tomorrow, today being a dizzying 7 observers (relative to a class of 6!)...

White tea is great. And my cold-turkey approach to sugar in tea and chocolate in general is fine...

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I think fearlessness would be a survival advantage for praying mantises (if that is the plural). If they dream, or day dream, the would no doubt dream of bagging a human. A few years ago I remember one taking me on head-on, flying at my face with pincers flexing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Question: What is worse than finding you are in a country full of uncouth people?

Answer: Finding your esteemed teacher is one of them.

This week in English in Action we are doing feelings and expressing yourself and things like that. One of the listenings were on Culture Shock, and we had a bit of sharing about the things they thought were shocking... and one of the main ones to come up was the way New Zealanders wash their dishes. All the Japanese and Koreans in my class were quite disgusted by what they observed Kiwi host families doing. They would say with the faces wrinkled that those terrible homestay families would wash their dishes in hot soapy water and then just let them drain in a dish-rack! With the water from the sink STILL ON THEM! I am used to this kind of panic, I calmly tell them that is exactly what I do. Looks of incredulity abound. They could accept stupid kiwi homestay families doing it but not their teacher... (interestingly almost all the students who have host families have not enjoyed their experiences, which is a bit of a worry).
A victim?

Things are going into an interesting phase, without anything different happening. I'm just saying it is interesting because if I had to sum up a word for it, it would have to be "interesting". Why interesting? Because it feels interesting. How does it feel interesting? It is just a feeling.

Anyway, a victim of my own success or just lightening striking? My burgeoning class of nine (it has been a long time since the school has had a class that size) will be joined by not one, not two, not three, but four observers. It remains to be seen whether you can pack thirteen students into one of our classrooms... I had just moved class on Monday to accommodate the two that I hooked into coming last week. And it remains to be seen whether the observers will be interested in being in one of the most overcrowded classes around. But either way, there is a bonus of $200 for me if all of them join... (gee, that's a lot of money) I will do better than the last time I had three observers and executed a poorly prepared lesson. Administration has offered to give me a teaching assistant, who would assist during class (which is something I have never had).

The course itself has suffered a little lately by me being distracted and ill-prepared. I am more interested in learning language than teaching language at the moment, and as a result the class has been less in tune with the purpose. I have decided to refocus myself now.

Anyway, probably the good side of having the two recent additions to the class is that one is an avid ping-pong player. It has been quite some time since I last played ping-pong consistently and it looks as if he is interested in playing most afternoons. He beat me twice yesterday, then in a long string of games I beat him 5-1, although all by very narrow margins. He looks like a much more sophisticated player than I do and has a killer smash (which is often his undoing, he is about 50%. And we both play left handed against all other competition (I still can't beat one of the others with my left hand, but I come close everytime). All the facets of my game are coming back. I never lost my spin-serves, but had lost my forehand smash, and my side-spin smashes (which used to be my best weapon). Strangely I regained my smash with the left-hand before the right. Playing against a reasonable player with my uncoordinated left hand, I spotted and smashed a ball of a nice height better and, oddly, far more accurately than I had previously with my right hand, and I did it again and again. Anyway, I am always happier when I am playing ping-pong.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bonuses are their own reward

After knackering myself with another late night, I pulled out another good day of teaching out of my bag of tricks. In the morning, I only have one student but managed to bring out the necessary points. I did reflect though, that it could have been so much better...

Then, in the afternoon class I was suddenly given two observers who seemed to enjoy themselves. So hopefully another two bonuses of $50. Then there was the curious staff meeting.

Earlier in the day, a student recruitment firm from Korea had met with the managers and some of the Korean students. This is when it gets interesting. Apparently the Korean students in my afternoon class raved about Daniel and his English in Action course. So much so that the agent mentioned me specifically back to the management, saying that if this "Daniel" fellow is teaching, they would be sending students here! So at the staff meeting, management announced they were giving me an extra $50 bonus. I am not sure what the thinking of management is toward me now. An employee who has already declared himself leaving at the first chance, whom an agency now says is crucial to their choice to send students. What was one do?

Of course, if I were a pessimist I would say he has nothing to fear, I am stuck here. My trip out for another interview tomorrow is a undesirable position (but is it the best I can get? Long term reliever in a year 2 to 3 class) at a good school.

Anyway, I am concerned about my planning for the afternoon class now. My mornings off did not generate a buffer of planning that was originally intended. I was half-relying on this week to give me that. Then why did I accept morning teaching this week? Maybe the fact that I effectively gave away $400 by not working in the mornings got to me subconsciously.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Another ray of sunshine

Well, with a brief self-declared morning holiday for all of last week and on Monday, I am back working full-time. I didn't achieve much that I initially intended to but did achieve a lot.

I have another interview this Thursday. I have confirmed my referees and got a glowing reference letter from my current employer. I got in some precious language study.
I have just sent off three more CVs to schools and despite a feeling of unease before lessons due to a lack of preparation, my classes have been successful.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Obscure challenges

Sometimes, a fervour comes upon me to learn something. Unfortunately, my learning sprees rarely distinguish between useful and unuseful knowledge. Suddenly I stay up late reading, browsing, searching, scribbling etc. till finally I leave it there. Quite often it is a language but can really be anything, nobel prize winners, chemistry, a musicians work, a philosophy.

Recently, I read Nobel Prize for Literature winners (triggered by Who wants to be a Millionaire), solipsism and Descartes (as a result of my interest in existentialism), Arabic (triggered by getting a book on Islam), zoological classifications (as a result of a visit to the various museums) etc.

Last night's project was learning Biblical Hebrew, triggered by my reading of the Bible, and also the fact that a theology-studying workmate was a bit unsure whether he should be expending that effort. I now know the whole hebrew alephbet (interestingly, the Greek, Arabic, Latin and Hebrew alphabets come from a similar root). I can read the very first sentence in Genesis and even understand the grammar).

Damn, just writing that triggered me to re-learn the Greek alphabet. Oh and now the Arabic... Maybe that is the problem with a language passion, it is never-ending.