Sunday, May 15, 2005

Zhen-de pressure!

It really was a case of a whirlwind week in the fishbowl that is my language school - but the main consequence is that now I am twice as busy as I was before. Here's how it happened:

As you may know I have been developing a course. Well, actually it is one half of a pair of courses, me planning and teaching the lower of the two. The higher level of the two being planned and taught by two different people. It had always seemed on the precipice of disaster. There was not enough time for it to be planned (the planner being burdened with other tasks), the teacher, as talented as he is, was struggling with the dearth of materials and his other obligations (he is doing a correspondence course and buying a house). But not to worry, he was changing from that class to prepare another course, handing the upper course on to a new recruit, let's just call him Kate.

On Friday (two weeks ago), after taking my class to a hair salon, a student from my class told me that they wanted to try a different class for the last two weeks they were at our school. I said that was fine, and made a few suggestions on what she should do.

After a peaceful weekend, then came a very unusual Monday (last Monday). The planner and teacher of the higher course decided to meet with students first to ask how the new teacher was and to ask what they thought of the course. Apparently it was very sobering, the students being rather outspoken about some of their dissatisfaction. The meeting stretched and alarm bells were ringing. Then I heard that the student from my class I talked to on the Friday and one student from the higher class had discussed with the Japanese counsellor about their unhappiness with their course earlier. After Monday, we had an informal meeting, a prelude to a Tuesday formal meeting to address the issues. The Tuesday meeting, brought to my attention that there were some not so apparent qualms with how I had been planning and executing my lessons.

Wednesday brought the management into class to discuss with the class their exact feelings and recommendations (without the teachers present). The outcome of this was interesting. Suddenly it was more clear. There were some students who were not happy but majority were not in my course. Whew! But there are still a lot of changes to make... BUT, a very important change suddenly became necessary. The new recruit, who was unfairly dropped into the burning house that was the higher course, asked for something more structured.

The decision was made on Thursday: I would teacher the higher class, Kate would teacher the lower class. I would be preparing my afternoon classes, Kate's afternoon classes and of course still attend to my morning classes. The upper classes would be converted to a free-form conversation/activity class with me having carte blanche and responsibility for every aspect of it. Man!

To be honest, I said that the aforementioned workload was fine with me. And I can claim the hours I spend on it for my wages.

I am suffering a little from stress I believe. My muscles being tense and I seem rather tense even when I think I am relaxing (something Xin noticed). This became more obvious at about 4am on Saturday morning when I awoke rigid and stressed. I think my mind had been puzzling over it during the night.

Fortunately my Saturday commitment collapsed and I was free in the evening to have a creative burst solving most of the pressing problems. Many of the ideas had been brewing on the Friday but maybe some of it was developed when I should have been resting on Friday night...

Either way, I am on my way through this bottleneck... But I am planning perhap another morning week off.

1 comment:

Crypticity said...

This is the first of four mornings off this week. I feel a lot better for it already.

I have got a goal to send off 10 applications for jobs, work out how to completely clear my student loan, completely prepare the afternoon classes for this week and next week, and do a little language study in between.

Anyway, the use of Emergency Dan to arrest the implosion of the higher English in Action class has been a success at least for the Monday. All seemed to be happy campers.