Thursday, March 11, 2010

The joys of teaching

I have been slack on our blog for the past week as a result of a very busy schedule. It all started on the weekend with some heavy days of teaching. On Saturday I did 8 hours which was demanding but doable. On Sunday I backed up with an 11 hour marathon which sucked me dry of every functional fibre of my being. I started at 8am with a 3 hour session. I had an hour break for an early lunch before a 2 hour class. I finished that class and had 30 minutes to ride to another school before I started 6 straight hours of classes. The structure was 30 minutes to an hour per class; 10 classes in total. That was 10 hellos and goodbyes; 10 smiles as I enter the room; 10, how are you today?. The classes were kids from 7 years old to teenagers at 16. I rotated between three different classrooms over two floors. The first couple of hours were OK and I was into a good rhythm, bouncing between classes with enthusiasm and generally matching the kids energy.

After about three to four hours the fatigue started setting in. I was having to stop at the door before entering the new class, take a deep breath, rub my face and compose myself before opening the door and putting on a strained smile. The last hour and a half was painful. I was exhausted. I had lost all sense of direction; I couldn't remember which class I had to go to, standing in the hallway looking in each direction with the confusion of an animal blinded by headlights. I couldn't and still can't remember what I was teaching and was really in a sorry state. I was dysfunctional and verging on delusional.

Before the last class, only 30 minutes to go, I went into the bathroom, stared at myself and opened my eyes as wide as I could, possibly trying to find anywhere there. I pressed my nose to the mirror watching it bend on the glass. I moved my head from left to right until something triggered in my foggy and beat up brain........"What the fuck are you doing"?. The brain had a very valid point. I took my face off the glass, smiled at the stupidity of the moment and slapped my face a few times. I gave myself a little pep talk while looking into the mirror...."Come on Ding (yes I was speaking in the third person), you can do it, 30 minutes to go, COME ON!"

I knocked on the door and entered the last class, simple introductions a battle. My pep talked failed miserably. I was struggling big time, my head a drugged up mess. I attempted to play a game where the kids had to unscramble some words I wrote on the board. 3 of the words were missing or I wrote incorrect letters so the kids obviously couldn't find the correct ones. I was actually feeling dizzy and it seemed as if the room was moving. I had to sit down and did so at one point teaching from the chair. I was spent and at my wits end. Every minute was dragging as if time was enjoying my suffering. My head was about to explode. The last 5 minutes somehow merged into me asking questions about speaking Vietnamese, the kids teaching me. As 8.30pm ticked over on the clock above the door I glared at it, grunted something to the class and hauled myself outside. It was not elation or joy as I had no energy to show or feel any emotion. It was a nothing.

I got myself home thinking I can not do this again.

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