How I Grew Up to be the Dullest Person on Earth
When studying Spanish verbs became my passion I knew things were getting bad. Very bad. It was time to expand my horizons.
Then I started teaching business English to students in China. My first class is at 06:00 so I am up at 05:00 to shower and to get organized. My new dull routine requires a 10:00 bedtime and I like to be home for an hour of down-time first. It is difficult to be a party animal when you go to bed at about the same time as the average 10-year old.
Yes, on-line is the way of the future and it is revolutionizing the way people learn.
Things have come a long way since the days of making carbon copies on a manual typewriter in Stanley Mission.
The photocopier was yet to be invented.
And a long way removed from when I taught in the Middle Kingdom in 1986-87, equipped only with a blackboard and a piece of chalk.
The joy of teaching at NowTutorMe is that all the material is prepared so it is just a matter of reviewing it, making some notes and then logging into the virtual classroom. And it can all be done from my office/bedroom in Medellin.
The platform is easy to use. As well as the materials, it has a chat-box so words and notes can be sent to the student. Amazing.
So why didn’t I just look for a teaching job at one of the many language schools in Medellin?
Not a bloody chance. First of all, the hours are long and, secondly, the pay is ridiculously low. Other factors include teaching kids – ick –or travelling all over the city for lessons with adults as I did with Berlitz in Casablanca. No.
I checked out a couple of local English teaching jobs to give you an idea of just how bad it is.
Teaching job one
For $1,100CAD a month the teacher gets to work from 06:30 to 16:00 or 8.5 hours a day with an hour for lunch. Add it up and it is 42.5 hours a week or 170 a month. By my calculation – and I hope I got it right as my math skills are at about a grade two level – it works out to $6.47 per hour.
Include an hour on the bus to both end of the day and it gets even worse. And don’t forget about prep and marking times. The teacher would, in fact, be working for about $4.00 an hour. Hells bells, the average babysitter in Canada makes $10.24.
Teacher job two
The hours for this one are great:
07:00 to 08:30, 17:00 to 20:00 and Saturdays from 09:00 to 12:00. And it pays $7.50 to $10CAD an hour. And the teacher only gets paid for teaching time.
The young and the energetic clutching their freshly printed TESL certificates are welcome to these jobs. Fortunately, beer here is about $1 a bottle so they can go out on Saturday night and knock back a few. The rest of their salary will go to rent, food and pre-paid mobile calls.
So even though I’m not going to get rich on $19CAD an hour – or $9.50 for each 25-minute class – I am still better off than most teachers in town. And I don’t have to ride the teeth-rattling-nerve-wracking bus twice a day.
I did a budget and figured out that I need to teach about 15 classes – seven and a half hours a week – to maintain a decent lifestyle with a few perks built in. My Canadian pension plan covers the rent, utilities and Internet. Income from writing is “money for jam,” as the New Zealand saying goes.
My dull routine
I am available for classes at 06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 09:00 and 10:00.
Students book well in advance, so it is just a matter of reviewing the material before heading into the virtual classroom. Even if I don’t have a class until 08:00, I am up at 05:00 and working on other projects – like writing content for Grizzly Coast Media.
As the classes are all 25 minutes some teachers work back-to-back. But I’m far too stress-resistant to do that. I prefer to teach one class an hour and use the time in between to make notes for the students and plan any newly booked classes. That way everything is done and dusted by 10:30 and the rest of the day is mine.
The idea is to keep being dull, dull, dull as I’m enjoying the lifestyle. And I still have time to work on those Spanish verbs.