Nothing much has been happening over the last month. Summer turned very suddenly into autumn, the traditional “turning off of the water supply for a whole weekend” has taken place, and my schedule has been very stable. I mean, there have been lessons cancelled, changed and rearranged on an almost daily basis, but on any given day I am generally working in just one location.
Mondays I’m at Mira Street, in the central office. Up until 2 weeks ago I had a series of lessons starting at 9.00am that I had to remember to prepare for on Saturday because the office was not open earlier for me to prepare. But the first lesson has disappeared from my schedule which makes my Monday mornings a little easier. I have a few lessons now where I am coaching people for exams, or even just giving them practice in specific areas of English, some of these don’t require very much preparation, I just have to turn up and chat. One of my Monday morning students was a student last year in a class of 4, where she was the main troublemaker and it used to be the lesson I most dreaded each week. However over the summer she has matured into a calmer, friendlier and more diligent student and she is now a pleasure to teach.
Tuesdays I have a 9.00am Russian lesson in the central office, which isn’t ideal but it has been the traditional time for these lessons for all of last year (though last year it was on Mondays). Then I have lessons all afternoon in the Sovetskiy office. I usually travel straight there after the Russian lesson – now it is possible to do this on a bus, last year I had to get a marshrutka. I usually get there with about an hour and a half to prepare all my lessons, and print all my materials because they come thick and fast – they are only 45 minute lessons for the most part (and mostly individual students) but so many of them! Later in the afternoon I have a large group of teenage girls – three I know well from last year, and two additions, and the rule is 5 or more people and the lesson lasts 90 minutes. I enjoy teaching them and the lessons fly by but I feel so tired by the end of the day. I finish with an individual student that ends at 8.00pm – then I have the long journey home to look forward to – fortunately this week both the individual student and the smaller group before him cancelled so I got home a little earlier than usual.
On Wednesdays I am at Traktorniy office all day. I get the tram – it’s a little bit more expensive than the bus but less prone to delays because of traffic. This is a really vicious beast of a schedule – I have 45-minute lessons at 10am and 11am (I usually arrive with just enough time to prepare for these), then a little break until 2.00, then I have lessons solidly through until 8:30 – my only hope of a break is if some students don’t show up and the lesson time is cut from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, or from 60 to 45. During the 2 hour lunch break I have to prepare lessons and materials for my 5 afternoon lessons, and because most of my students don’t have books I have to print copies of relevant pages from the text books for each of them, using a printer/copier that cannot automatically print double sided. One of my groups is 8 students, there are only 8 chairs in the classroom so I have no choice but to stand!
Generally I can get all my preparation done in an hour and a half which leaves me 30 minutes to go find something to eat. There is a bakery that sells nice crusty bread rolls (bulochka khruschyashnaya) and an Okei supermarket where I normally get a Twix and a cold drink. Sometimes the lunchtime queues are quite long, and I always worry about getting back too late!
On Thursdays and Fridays I’m back in the central office. I have lessons that start at 10am, on Thursdays I now have a Russian lesson at 1pm, which gives me a little time beforehand to review and revise the things I (should have) learned in the previous lesson. It helps. I don’t have any big blocks of lessons these two days, so there are lots of big spaces throughout the day where I can go home or do some shopping, with the last lesson finishing at 8pm (Thursday) or 7.30 (Friday). It seems this year Wesley is doing the Interpreters courses that go on to 9pm, so I am spared that inconvenience, for now.
On Saturday I spend the whole day at Voroshilovskiy office – which was my main location last year – starting with my longest continuous student at 10.00am, a very mature student doing the Upper Intermediate course we use for teenagers. It is a rewarding lesson and there is a lot of mutual respect and understanding. I then have a cute little button of a girl who can (and does) speak English fluently for her age as the result of going to an international school, but wants to keep learning and improving. My next student is her father, who also speaks good English and just needs some polishing with his pronunciation. I get a break of about an hour or so then I have a couple more individual students, then another short break before my final two groups, mostly consisting of returning students (though I am getting to like the new additions!). I am used to finishing earlier on Saturdays – at 4.30 or 5pm, but this year the last lesson finishes at 6pm.
And on Sunday I rest.