ITI -March 2020: Part Three

I have finally approached the final few days of the month. I had no time to relax, though because it was another busy day at the office.

My first lesson was with a regular who came to class, asking for help with a personal statement to write for a job application, to be done in a 30-minute conversation practice lesson. She didn’t give me any notice that she wanted to do this so I was a bit pissed off and I was frustrated because I didn’t feel like I did a good job helping her with it. I said that going forwards, my conversation practice lessons are conversation only, and if she wants help, she needs a Q&A class with me. I don’t know if she took that on board, I didn’t care. Another bad start to the day and I just wanted to cancel all of my lessons for the rest of the day and go back to bed. Not an option, I just told myself to man up and the day will fly by. It did.

The rest of my classes were with new students. I had a sixteen-year-old who was super nice, and I had no problem giving him future lessons because his English was good and I thought my lessons would be useful for him because I teach a lot of idioms and slang, and every teenager likes to use slang. However, I had one of my unfortunate moments in teaching. He told me he wanted English lessons online because his teacher isn’t nice and is incompetent. I said, “I’m not saying you should do this, but there’s a word you could use to describe your teacher … a bitch.” Yes, I just told a sixteen-year-old that he could call his teacher a bitch. *facepalm* Why, SET, why? The second I realised what I said, I laughed and joked not to do it and to stay in school. Thankfully he saw the funny side to it, especially when I told him that karma has made a note of this and will come back when I get a full-time teaching job, and possibly teaching kids or teenagers.

I had a half hour break after that which I was looking forward to after being sat on my backside for almost two hours. The student who was booked in wanted to have the lesson half hour earlier. I said no because that was my break and my only break of the day. She kept pushing, and I said no, and if she couldn’t keep to that time, she had to reschedule. She said okay, and she’ll keep the time she booked. I remember this student. She was weird, possibly weirder than the Esther-Lisbeth student I had a while back. She kept saying she loved my accent and wanted to know everything about me. Maybe the reason she wanted to have the lesson earlier was that she was outside my house and wanted to have the lesson in person? I honestly don’t know, but I was not going to give in to her request. I had the lesson with her half an hour later. Her English was okay, but I felt uncomfortable because she constantly commented on my accent and asked me personal questions. If it’s a regular student asking me such questions, I don’t mind. A new student, on the other hand, absolutely not. I didn’t want to give her future lessons, so I came up with a half-arsed excuse over her seeing another teacher. She contested what I said, and I was over it, so I was honest and told her that she was asking me personal questions, and I didn’t feel comfortable with them. She said sorry and ended the lesson. The rest of the teaching day went without a hitch.

Friday came, and it was almost the weekend. I also had an early finish which is always nice. I was hoping today would be a day where I’d get no weird students. Wrong. The first one was a guy from Thailand. He was a nice guy, but every time he would open his mouth or laugh, I could see his teeth, and from where I was sat, they looked black. I felt a bit uneasy. Why the hell does this guy have black teeth? Please close your mouth a bit more when you’re talking. I then asked him what he likes to do in his free time. He said he likes to go to the park and talk to the trees. I burst out laughing because I was not expecting him to say that, plus I was hoping he wouldn’t say or do anything weirder. SET, dear, you are so professional. I explained why I laughed and said that my sister was a bit of a hippy and liked to hug trees and sit under them. He took it well, thankfully. He wanted English lessons because he wanted some help writing his books and sound more natural. I told him that he needed to see a professional teacher with a particular interest in publishing, and maybe a teacher who has written and published books. I said I’ll find a teacher on a Facebook group I use and send his details over to them. He was understanding and thanked me for the lesson.

The second weird student I had was a lady from Saudi Arabia, living in Liverpool. I could hear her, but I couldn’t see her. I said that I couldn’t see her and asked her if she wanted to do an audio call instead. I don’t know if she understood me, but she kept saying three different things over why she couldn’t turn her camera on. She said it wasn’t working, but then said she was wearing her hijab, and then said she wants to see the teacher and what their body language was like. I was so confused. What the hell do you want to do, woman? I told her I’m not bothered whether she wears a hijab or not, and she continued saying different things. I gave up and said I’m going to turn my camera off and do audio instead. I knew I didn’t want to give her lessons again, but I went through the motions and did the trial lesson. I told her that I think she needs more than conversation lessons and explained my reasoning (e.g. She struggled to converse with me over the audio/video thing, and didn’t answer some of my follow up questions). She didn’t say much, said thank you for the lesson and ended the call.

I had spent a whole month teaching almost non-stop, and it had taken its toll on me. I had seven lessons with one small break. It was a long day, and I was exhausted by the end of the day, to the point where I had two episodes, one after the other. I had to cancel my lessons the next day because it made me so ill. I had two students, one from Venezuela and the other from Azerbaijan who was really rude about it, one of them said that they want me to teach them even though I was ill. I said that’s not going to happen and if they want a lesson with me, reschedule. He asked me if I teach on the weekends and I said no, my teaching days are Monday to Friday. He said that’s too long a wait and said he wants a refund. That’s fine. I’m not going to deal with a student who’s going to be demanding and try to talk me into giving them a lesson on a day that I don’t teach.

The other student from Venezuela was worse. She kept messaging me on Skype even though I asked her not to while the lesson was in dispute on ITI. I ended up blocking her on there, and once it was resolved, I blocked her (and the Azerbaijani guy). I remember having a cry after this because I was so upset and frustrated that this was happening to me as well as having to deal with students who were demanding and showed no compassion. Do students not realise that teachers are human? I had a little cry and got up and said to myself, “They are not worth your emotions or your time. Fuck them.”

Lessons learned:

  • Continue to stand your ground over what you want/don’t want to teach. Consider updating your profile to make this clear to new and regular students.
  • Continue to see the funny side to naughty/weird students but try not to show that you think they’re weird.
  • Don’t get upset if students are rude when you try to tell them your situation. It shows a lot about them as a student, and they are not worth being upset over or worth your time.
  • Stop being a workaholic.

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