Back to Thursdays

Thursday is a long day, both in terms of the hours I work and the patience it requires from me. Today was better than normal, until the end. I tried extra hard to stave off the absolutely exhausted feeling that hits me at precisely 7:45pm, once my last students leave. And the one thing I absolutely can’t do on a full Thursday is the dishes. My work schedule is punishing enough without doing my least favorite chore.

Oh where to begin? I swear these things will have a central theme. I won’t ever be a decent blogger. There’s too much nonsense here that I don’t have time to sort out. But I didn’t start this again to play on the internet. I already waste too much time looking up news stories about America, England and Germany.

Right so on Thursday I have to travel to the side part of town to the Germany senior center there for four hours of classes. Now my first class on of the day is a group of seniors who’ve combined classes and come very very close to absolutely hating each other guts. Sometimes I am more babysitter to their moods than an actual English teacher. They’ve also disrespected me a bit by trying to tell me how to do my job (German “honesty”) and I sometimes snap at them a bit more than I’m normally inclined to, but man girl’s gotta have a backbone.

I’ve just made it sound hideous, but despite that last paragraph I actually enjoy the classes on occasion. In fact today, the guys didn’t come today and so I had a very relaxed class of elderly women talking about their gardens and favorite flowers and fruits and asking each other about planting tips with huge interest, in mostly English for half the class. If the guys had been there, we wouldn’t have gotten away with it. One of them would have started in on how this is teaching him nothing and our little bunny trails of plant names and what grows best where would have been stopped. Today all the women left very happy and I felt like fate had smiled on me a bit. Usually I have to be on toes and in fact get up at 7 on Thursdays to make sure I’m awake enough for it.

The next class wasn’t as fun, but it was fine. More students have joined the course and we all aren’t on the same page yet. It was beginner, not conversation. But we’ve switched to a better book and I’ve taken to not just doing all the mini-dialogues but also enacting little mini-situations with me where I introduce more vocab and give them the spontaneity of a native speaker and having to think on their toes. I’ve reduced my speaking time to mostly giving instructions/homework and explaining some grammar. Today I played flight attendant and they ordered drinks.

In the course of a year my classes with the seniors have improved to benefit us all. Unfortunately contrary to what we’d like to believe in our instantaneous world, being a good teacher and getting to know the peculiarities of a group is something that just takes time. I’ve also learned that while my American sensitivities may bristle at the direct feedback my senior citizens give very willingly, it’s also the only way I can know what works and doesn’t. There have been days where I’ve walked around in a defensive huff fighting through my knee-jerk response, until the emotional cloud subsides and logic proves them to have a point.

My other boss also gives me a very honest assessment and I’ve come to value knowing exactly where I stand with a group of people. My skin has gotten a bit thicker in Europe. It’s not always something I can handle without a bit of time to think it over and my Thurs. class today gave me too much “feedback” before I really had the chance to show them how a lesson with me works BUT I guess I’m grown up enough to separate personal life from work. I want to do my job well first, and be liked 2nd.  Which I guess makes me very compartmentalized and German these days. In America work was more like a popularity contest at times and the line between work and personal life was very blurred.

So I went into the city center after for my work, feeling relieved that first half was over. I was inspired today to eat a little meatball/meatloaf sandwich from the butcher. Oh perfectly seasoned and just what I needed. I also bought a small pick-me-up coffee before hand and a sandwich for later. Then had another bakery coffee, which I never do. But as I said, I was determined to fight exhaustion.

At work it was the third time I cleaned up puke in the girls bathroom, all the same color, not from the little kids. Plus apparently the cleaning lady always finds sausages in the trash and other things. I think we have a bulemic on our hands. Well not us the math department. I think she must want to get caught, cause she’s not doing a good job of hiding it.

Ahhh another day. The first kids are a newish class for me and so excited to have me finally. We have fun. The little boys are a little bit in love, so they come up with excuses to come up to my desk and check things. Oh goodness, tell me how cute is it when little boys (10) with a pierced ears or mohawks or fat little adult behavior suddenly pretend they are the cleverest students or too cool to work, but they know all the answers. And they girls look up with their big eyes and whisper things like “Kyria you look pretty today.” And I say thanks Schatz (dear/treasure) because I treasure them all and have practically come to tears more times than I care to admit thinking about how much my Greek brats mean to me. And I wish, really wish that this honeymoon time won’t end. Because it’s such a beautiful part of human nature when people want you to believe and see the best in them and I try my hardest to let them see that striving to improve is something that won’t go unrecognized.

And putting this into words is bringing me pretty near onto tears.

The bf is smart. When I talk about the kids, mostly with wonder at the curious thing they’ve said or done, I pretend not to care. And he just smiles knowingly and lets me not admit it. And it’s better for my pride I think.

And that’s done and next comes my littlest kids and today little S. came early and hadn’t learned her vocab so we practiced together, although she informed me she wasn’t smart cause she was in the middle level of schooling (damn you German school system). And it was pleasing for her to realize I was on her side and for me to see that with a bit of guidance she could do a lot of work.

The little kids are still a struggle for me. The problem is communication struggles. Sometimes me German isn’t up to par and my Greek doesn’t come to mind. Sometimes the kids aren’t in the mood to think in German. Today was perfect though. Every single one of them got almost equal time from me. And I used Greek to keep them focused. Cheeky little P. 11! started saying my name without any Miss. I looked at him, corrected him and said we aren’t best friends. Not just for him, but for the other kids not to get any ideas. His eyes got big as he thought over my words. His brother needs lots of attention. I think he gets jealous, but is too calm to act out. Today he tried to copy his brother and enact a writing strike, but a few compliments set him right.

The last class is my proficiency class. They are more like adults sometimes and we speak almost only English. It’s the best of the best. Today we talked about spoken English vs. grammatically correct with a text I prepared. Oh they love it. They love America and all things cool. They think English is uber-cool.

Of course these lovely day was ruined by the tax office fining me for not paying taxes that I can’t prove I don’t have to pay until I send them something in writing about my new visa which I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of April! Oh was furious. Then I tried to make popcorn, but I burned my tester, because I wasn’t paying attention. Hot oil, not good. Space cadet. And I also forgot about this English Stammtisch I wanted to go to. But that’s ok since I’m too chicken to go alone atm.

So there it is! A very long entry about my longest workday.

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