January 18, 2011


I consider myself lucky when it comes to my job. Not only do I enjoy my job, but I’m lucky in that my students are great people. They are so easy to work with and easy to please. They are happy to be getting language training and will do whatever you want. It helps that I give them what they want too, but it’s amazing to think at the end of the day I work with great people.

Of course I can’t say I’ve never had a difficult student. That would be a lie. I have encountered the odd difficult student, but I find ways to work with them. Even if they frustrate me, we work together on their goals. There have even been shouting matches, but nothing that would make me pull out my hair or tell them where to shove it.

In October I got a pile of new students – 5 actually – for private lessons. They are wonderful people and ironically we have a lot in common. That seems to happen a lot. It’s really nice. Sometimes a student will say ‘I know I’m different and people don’t agree with me’ about a specific topic and I often find myself saying ‘I know what you mean’. Both of us are always taken by surprise that someone else has the same quirky opinion or idea.

Last year I had two firsts: a nightmare student and I had to quit a student. My nightmare student expected her English to improve magically. She needed to obtain a specific level because she had actually gone down a level when she had redone her test prior to our lessons. Our goal was to get that level, and to this day, I’m not sure if it happened. I’d actually be surprised if it did. Although she needed a specific level, she would not do the work involved or make an effort. She wanted homework, but would never do it. To make matters worse this student had a timeline. She was the only student I’ve had that didn’t make one single improvement. It was a little sad, but I needed to realize that I could only do so much. My supervisor was very understanding and knew from previous teachers what this student was like. Ironically she didn’t want to tell me beforehand, afraid I’d refuse to take the student on.

My second first: I had to quit a student last month and again I had an understanding supervisor. This student kept cancelling on me, sometimes with notice and sometimes without. It was maddening given that this student had my home phone number so things like this wouldn’t happen. But often, there I was waiting in the lobby at 8am with her being somewhere else. Or I would get a call just before the 24hr timeline, preventing others from taking her spot so they could make up hours they had missed. When she refused to adjust her lesson schedule I knew it was time to say goodbye. I just hope her new teacher scheduled afternoon classes so he doesn’t have to get out of bed early for her.

Whether or not it is luck, it became clear to me this week how lucky I am to work with a large number of fabulous people. Recently I had some prep classes for the government’s lovely language test and every one of the students was pleasant, motivated and happy. Last week I started with four other new students and again, they all seem appreciative and happy to have language training. I have friends who also teach ESL and they seem to have horror story after horror story. I feel so bad when I talk about my great students. One even asked once in frustration ‘How do you always have great students?!’. My answer: ‘Just lucky I guess’.


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