You get your schedule for the new teaching year. You have a new course to teach. Oh no! How much work?! Yes, it is a lot. Hopefully I can help streamline out the panic. Learn from my mistakes instead of your own.
What kind of course is it? Is it discrete skills, a mish-mash of skills, content, or merely an idea crafted by nymphs from a gossamer of buzzwords? This is going to dictate a lot about how you approach it.
If it’s all four skills, what can’t the learners do yet that you want them to do? If you aren’t sure, ask or have a good think. What kinds of people are your learners? Pope-Ruark (2018) advocates creating stakeholder profiles for your course. Put yourself in these different people’s shoes. Make them as realistic as possible. ‘Talk’ to them in your head. Ask questions to them and let them answer your questions and it makes this process easier. Yes, I know this sounds like the ravings of a man possessed but trust me here, or give it a try and if you don’t like it, try it your way.
Continue reading “How Do I Plan a New Course? A Guide”
(Photo of me in front of a poster with elephants in Osaka. ©2018)
Who doesn’t like a holiday? I am supposed to be on mine but I can’t help be sort of not on holiday. I still have a bit of grading to do (deadline far enough away to not feel guilty), some other bits of projects to do, and job searching.
I am still looking for a full-time job, and am constantly looking and the jobs keep coming up, albeit some of the most interesting ones outside Kanto.
I remember there was quite a to do on Twitter among UK academics defending the summer teaching break in universities because this is when they actually get research done. Well, among serial part-timers, basically people working more teaching hours than most full-time university teaching staff, this is when we finally have time to cut and paste our CVs into bespoke bloody forms for every university job we apply to (either part or full time, tenured or contract), with ill-judged formatting choices that mean the file renders stupidly on a Windows computer but fine on a Mac or vice versa. One university that I am still thinking about applying for, and it’s just a thought because of what follows, wants publications (Check! Although maybe not high-flying enough.) and also evidence of excellence in teaching based on the dubious evidence provided in student questionnaires. I predict some humming and aahing (and aarghing) about this, if only about being bothered to find logins for the different university questionnaire websites. It makes the 500 words in L2 about my aims for a general-ESP-EAP hybrid course for a more prestigious university seem doable.
Anyway, less blog moaning. I’ll only be moaning on social media between now and the last week of August. Probably.
So, yes, my summer holiday for the next week or so will be spent with early mornings grumbling about Excel, my crappy English-to-Japanese translation skills, my dreadful keigo, and general work related faff before housework and parenting. At least it’s just a week, then it’s countdown to an actual trip!
Those of you who read regularly know just how much of a horrendous curmudgeon I am, and this past couple of weeks I’ve been questioning my career choices, much like Rob Gordon in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, when he talks about shutting down his record shop to go and work in a Virgin Megastore.
I have, however, come out the other side of this gnashing of teeth and realised that my relief that life is not all bad was helped by the following things:
Keeping a diary
Not a journal, although I do jot things or add them to a private Google document. No, I’m talking about keeping a detailed schedule and updating it weekly. If I knew I could gather the info as quickly online as I can with paper, I’d use an internet-based calendar but paper is just plain quicker.
Finding how many classes I teach for myself is useful for paperwork for my son’s daycare. It’s also a lot quicker for scheduling new clients.
Speaking Halfway OK Japanese
I had to phone the bank this week and if I hadn’t learned the Japanese I have, getting the information I needed woukd have meant waiting until my wife’s day off or hiring an interpreter or begging the bank to find someone who speaks English.
Spread the risk
I do not work for just one agency, or just one client. This means of one company goes belly up, or if a new client is bloody unreliable, I don’t lose out too much.
This was an issue when I was a mere part-time dabbler, living paycheck to paycheck. I know now that I would never again work for a fly-by-night company who photocopy all their materials. I also know that if I get paid late, somebody doesn’t care about me so what else don’t they care about?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love a permanent full-time job with a good salary, it’s just that those are rare as hen’s teeth in EFL and I actually do enjoy my job. It’s just the times people treat you as an idiot that get me cross.