So let’s be honest, I’ve struggled to figure out my pace and content with this, though to be honest, there are other things going on in my life. While my aim has been to provide words of interest or action … though I’m starting to rethink the idea …
I’m starting to rethink writing, and what I might have to say … which … could end up being quite a bit … there was an article that a read where it was written, those who subscribe want to read …
For so long people asked if reading was dead; lamenting the 140 character tweet length. Though in effect, we just needed to start with smaller bites to learn how to listen, and maybe even write, better. I mean, that’s all reading is … listening to someone else’s words spoken in our own voice … in our heads … kinda trippy …
Thank you for reading my words; I hope you are well, you deserve to be well and are worth the resources to be well.
Though now onto our story …
A Changing of the Teacher
Last May I provided myself a break, and I decided to stop working with one of my students. He was a young boy, though difficult for me to find the capacity to interact in a manner he might be best served. Another teacher was found for the boy.
I get updates every now and again, she loves working with him. He is such a sweet child, and she seems like a really sweet woman; it turned out for the best.
Though she, on the other-hand, was teaching a rather treacherous young boy; we’ll call him Timothy. Timothy’s dad wants him to be taking six hours of English classes every single week; Timothy turned 12 in September. Ninety minutes per day, after online classes—to sit and learn English. Timothy wasn’t having it.
And Timothy is clever. During video calls he found a way to create a static sound by pressing certain keys on the computer. Timothy can also be rude; randomly walking away from class without telling you, as the teacher, anything. While Timothy isn’t very considerate of other people’s plights either … sadly, I’ve seen his WhatsApp stories now …
If class starts at 4pm, Timothy will be there 20-30 minutes late. The only way to make Timothy care, is to tell his dad …
Though really, who in their right mind wants to be that person …?
I’m not trying to be that person, is all I’m saying (rumor has it pops can get physical about things; and to be honest, I’ve heard his dad yelling in the background … I’m not even trying to engage with the dude!)
Plan of Attack
In September I was asked to take over teaching Timothy, he had used some sexist language with his former teacher; and so that relationship ended promptly.
Given some warning going into these classes my original position was going to be one of not caring. The kid is miles away, connected via little data packets; there’s nothing he can do that matters except lie.
As mentioned before, 20-30 minutes late, consistently; just a moment teacher, is the consistent refrain. Timothy starts school near seven or eight in the morning; and gets done around 2:30pm. After this it is video game time.
The kid is twelve … my plan was to not care …
And it was tested as we went through a litany:
static when I talk
blowing in the microphone when I talk
having conversations with others during class
My favorite was when I would correct him, and he seemed to take it as a personal offense, go silent, or walk away …
And many times he would come back, and I would explain to him that, I don’t care. When our time is up, our time is up, and that’s that.
Soon I decided to start taking notes about our classes; just to document what was happening should push ever come to shove. Notes with timestamps.
Two-weeks ago I started implementing some new rules. We start class at 4:15, if he doesn’t make it by then class is cancelled. I give him 45, 30, 15-minute alerts and more. Still 20-30 minutes late, consistently. I’m not gonna fight the kid … I still get to put money in my pocket at the end of the day.
And my plan entirely failed … as I said, 20-30 minutes late, consistently, still. Though at least I was ending class 30 minutes early; yup, only charging pops for 60 instead of 90 minutes. Cause honestly, I’m not going to put myself through that fight.
Half of the time the kid would cut out of class early anyways; usually some excuse about having to go to the mall, or having to do something else that was important.
Game plan: Don’t care.
Send reminders for class, don’t bug him beyond reminders.
End class on time.
Though today I had had enough …
Last week they had a break, no classes and many businesses had vacations as well.
This week was a chance to set a new tone; Monday was the last vacation day …
Tuesday … 20-30 minutes late … and then slogging through the remaining time.
No class on Wednesday …
Thursday, reminders … nothing … I message him at 4:20, he signs on to the video conference at almost the exact same time.
“Timothy, turn on your video so I can see you.”
I usually don’t care, but today I wanted to talk to him directly.
“Dude, I can call your dad—we can force you to do 90 minutes of exercise, and it will suck for everyone involved. I don’t want to do that!!! And I’m trying to do everything in my power, and within reason, to not have to go that route.
“What can we do to make this time tolerable for you.”
In the first days of class, I went through the normal introductory quiz, who are you, why are you learning English, what do you enjoy doing, what is your profession, or for kids, what professions interest you? In this way, I can better curate materials for each student.
Timothy likes video games. He once mentioned wanting to play video games when he grew up … Though today we got past that, as he quite openly admitted that he thinks video-game streamers, even the ones who make money, are “wasting their lives”.
And this allowed me to open another topic, what does it look like to not waste one’s life ?
Moreover, what are things Timothy would like to do so that his life isn’t a waste ?
Now we’re actually talking!
Timothy talked about wanting to work in his family’s business, about doing sales, and learning about the inventory. Curiously enough, Timothy talked about wanting to, and being able to, help people!
But this was enough pie in the sky conversation; it’s good that we were talking, maybe even great! I mean, the kid actually adjusted his camera so that I could see him, and so I wasn’t just staring at his forehead. I’m gonna act like that moment of consideration was indicative of a glance, if not a step, in the right direction.
“What can we do to make these 60 minutes tolerable for Timothy ??”, I asked him.
“What doesn’t Timothy want to learn about ?”
Hmm … Timothy didn’t know … Timothy needed time to think.
“Dude, no worries, I don’t care—think, find the right words, now we’re talking, we’re using English. Take your time.”
“I want to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard!”
That was it y’all; we’ve got an anchor point. We’ve got a goal to work towards.
Timothy also told me a few other tidbits of information; his interest in parkour, as well as his interest in chakras and energy …
We’ll see how the next few classes go, though I feel better about the client. It’s four hours per week minimum, and a good rate. Though moreover, it’s the challenge of creating a successful student from a troubled situation; about creating a relationship, no not deep, not profound, but at least humane, between two people.
Sure, I am the one who is called teacher, but I don’t know everything, nor is the student expected to know everything. We are learning and growing concurrently, at different places in life, albeit, and in different ways; though we are both learning nonetheless.
My task has been, and continues to be, to learn patience.
At least now we are talking about things that matter to Timothy, so hopefully he will find the excuses necessary to be a bit more engaged.
Thanks for reading this story; I’m thinking this will continue to be a theme—just stories and reflections from my days and travels :)
I enjoy writing, and really ought to do it more …
I’ll be sure to keep y’all updated!
Safe travels, light and laughter,