Reflecting on 2018, there were some pitfalls and paydays. Betting on yourself, this is often the case.
I’ve now developed a flexibility I may not have had a few years ago – I now feel like I can be dropped into any situation (teaching-wise, anyway) and come out the other side. I was tasked with a 60-hour course with a useless book for content that none of the students bought anyway, and found myself scrapping it and throwing together six-hour sessions from scratch. When you’re standing in front of a class, that’s a lifetime. Jumping through mental hoops was trying.
Sink or Swim
That may have been the toughest test I’ve encountered yet, so I had to get creative. I found myself moving classes around to buy myself time and come up with stuff for them to do. Sandwiching in material from a crappy book none of them even had was another test. Also, try keeping a room of late teens engaged for six hours a day…. On any subject.
I give them credit, they clued in that all wasn’t right but stuck with me anyway. Barring a couple of exceptions, I left the experience with more positive feeling than negative. But this “baptism by fire” approach in Vietnam will either test your resolve or leave you broken.
In the end, I refused that there was a no-win scenario and pulled a Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek fans know what I’m talkin’ ’bout) and toughed it out. Going from that to teaching noisy six-year-olds how to make snowflakes at Christmas is now relatively painless, and I may yet seek out another full-time gig in a real bricks-and-mortar classroom setting.
Embrace the 21st Century
More and more last year, I tried to sort how to join the rest of the world and get into modern technology. I started teaching students online, doing copywriting for websites and a POS (choose the acronym you feel is most suitable here, haha) company, completed an online course with the University of New Brunswick. I even pop up in the odd podcast! (after the 16-minute mark) https://saigoneer.com/saigon-arts-culture/arts-culture-categories/12572-saigoneer-podcast-episode-4-u-23-pride,-bubble-tea-madness-and-the-saigon-heat
I used to boast about not even owning a computer for years, although most people thought that was more ridiculous than commendable.
There are arguments for live teaching and the online option, which may explain why I’m trying to blend the two. I really need to invest in a more modern piece of equipment, as the one I have has difficulty with large files, the battery dies quickly, and I’m at the mercy of Vietnamese Internet providers and power cuts. This has resulted in a rocky relationship with my Chinese employers, sit-down chats with techies about how to proceed (get a new computer!) and bailing on a few classes. Taking a month off to go to Canada also disrupted a few, although I tried my best to stay teaching while I was there. There’s no shortage of companies like the one where I work, the time may have come to look around at my options. https://oetjobs.com/list-online-esl-english-teaching-jobs/
Regardless, New Year’s talk is just that. Let’s touch base in a few months and see where we’re all at. Happy New Year everyone!