I didn’t expect last week to be anything but busier than usual and maybe a little bit stressful because of all that I had on my plate. In fact, it started kind of rocky but it ended just right.
In addition to my usual work of teaching and preparing lessons – which fully consumes my time in any given week – I had two large projects that were coming to a close during the week. The first was a project that I was helping someone in Jamaica with. I can’t speak about it because of matters of confidentiality. Suffice it to say that it required a lot of intense brain work and engaged skills from my previous career. I put a lot of time and effort into it over the last couple of months but last week was its end date.
The second extra project was the one that I was helping that other foreign teacher from school with over the New Year and Christmas holidays. It’s what we call a conversation club. Once a month on a Saturday evening, our school puts on an hour and a half-long themed open class for any member of the public who wants to come. Our theme always has something to do with the month (for example, October was Halloween, November was Thanksgiving, and December was Christmas) and two teachers are responsible for planning and delivering the lesson. Other team members help with the execution, like decor, food and prizes. This other foreign teacher – let’s call her G – had elected to do January’s conversation club, which was assigned a theme of, “Ice and Snow.” Unfortunately, her partner teacher proved to be unreliable so G came to the point of not trusting that her original partner wouldn’t flake out on her at the last minute. I also had an opportunity to observe her partner’s unreliability for myself and, as G and I are in the same band, I had told her that I would help her with her conversation club if she needed assistance. To be honest, my thought at the time was that she might need me to help her prepare or organise in some way, or maybe play a peripheral role on the night of the conversation club. But what she needed was a full partner replacement, so by the end of the holidays I was officially her new partner.
We met during the holidays and over the past couple of weeks in order to put the finishing touches on the plan that she had already formulated. Also, G and part of our band had spent the previous three months (and me, the previous one month) practicing some numbers specifically to perform at the end of the conversation club. So over the past few months, a lot of effort went into preparing for this class.
So, there I was at the start of the week with my usual responsibilities, as well as these additional items that carried a lot of weight. Last Sunday as I contemplated my week ahead, I realised that I would only make it through the week without turning into an exhausted hag through the grace of God and proper organisation. I had my long and packed Monday to get through, on Tuesday I would need to catch up on all that usually falls through the cracks on Mondays; Wednesday was the deadline for my Jamaican project; Thursday was my day off, which I hoped to use to catch my breath; Friday would be for last minute preparations for the conversation club and I had a special errand to run that day; and Saturday was the conversation club, which meant an extra long day for me.
Knowing all that was ahead of me and wanting to reduce the stress later in my week, I spent all of that Sunday evening preparing all of the handouts that we would need for our conversation club.
Monday and Tuesday went fast, with a little bit of stress because of a few classes that did not go according to plan. By Tuesday night, I was praying to God to sort out whatever was causing my week to be going sideways. On Wednesday morning, I closed off my Jamaican project right on schedule, thank goodness. But I also learned that one of my favourite classes, which had only three students in it, was being closed and my students redistributed to other groups. This made me a little bit sad; I really like the kids from that little group and I was concerned that they should continue their English studies because they’re really very hardworking students.
On Thursday, I hid myself away in an empty classroom at school and spent the entire morning catching up on the lesson plans that I couldn’t do on Monday and Tuesday because I had to use every spare minute putting the finishing touches on my Jamaican project. I spent the afternoon watching a couple of Hallmark movies and ended up in tears over one of them (Signed, Sealed, Delivered…always ends with me in happy tears!). But I was really thankful that I was able to relax that afternoon because, as my week had progressed, I had expected my Thursday to be altogether devoid of relaxation.
On Friday, I taught my morning class then did my Russian language test. I got a mediocre grade – 72% for those who must know – because I forgot some of the body parts vocabulary and mixed up the words for ‘ours’ and ‘yours’. Still, my teacher didn’t make me feel bad about it and, of course, I resolved to keep working hard at it. After my class, I ran my special errand. My New Year’s host and I hopped a taxi to the Khomus Museum so I could buy my very first khomus!!!
We’ll begin lessons sometime over the next few weeks so I’ll keep you posted on that. We had to hotfoot it back to school so I could teach my afternoon classes but once I was done and could breathe again, I felt really happy to be the owner of a beautiful, authentic, Yakutian-made khomus.
On Friday night, G and I met one last time to go over our game plan for Saturday evening, then we both went off on a sightseeing jaunt that I’ll tell you about next time.
On Saturday morning, I was at school by 10:30 am, although I don’t teach until early afternoon on Saturdays. I planned a couple of this week’s lessons, printed and prepped our conversation club documents and taught my classes, which all went well, thank goodness. Then it was 6:30 pm and time for the last big push of the week.
Our “Ice and Snow Music Festival” conversation club went off like a dream. We only had about sixteen attendees but our lesson on music, lyrics and song writing was interesting and well-received. It all went off without a hitch, including the last twenty minutes or so, when half of our band performed some ice, snow and cold themed songs for our attendees, including singing the winning song from their final song writing activity. They liked it well enough that they asked for an encore and we ended up singing the other songs that didn’t win.
All in all, the week was unusually busy for me but I think in the end it was a successful one, even though there were some bumps along the way. And by the grace of God and proper organisation and planning, I ended it without turning into an exhausted hag. Hallelujah!