I’ve laid off writing new posts over the last few weeks because it felt like quite enough of my time was disappearing into my laptop. Guess who found gainful employment? Like so many reluctant reader rabbits before me, I have landed myself a job facilitated by the amazing World Wide Web. I have a headset! I broke the streak I started in college of never writing a spreadsheet! I have already worked from a hotel bathroom with my murky cup of Keurig at 5:30am while Derek slept in the next room!
After a lot of talks over the summer with The Potter’s School (an online Christian school founded by homeschoolers in Virginia – DING!), they finally hired me at the end of August as an tutor of EFL (English as a foreign language). I’m tutoring students in China and Vietnam through their first non-EFL English classes (ages ten to fifteen, at fifth and sixth grade levels). It’s contract work, paid by the student, with flexible hours I negotiated with families myself. Given the time difference from here to China, and the eleven students I’m working with only adding up to a few actual tutoring hours a week, my schedule turned out to be interesting: early morning and early evening windows from Tuesday to Thursday. I’m working solely at the start and end of Derek’s full-time workday. Wacky! But, although I’d like to have more students to keep me busy (I probably will next year, because their China program is new and growing fast), I was glad for any opportunity to start with TPS. Working remotely has already proven so convenient – I can do it anywhere with wifi, in my jammies if I wish, with no need for a second car.
All this is with my eventual goal of teaching in mind, but if it never goes any further I will still love this job. Thinking back, way before the “bachelor’s degree” thing, I remember little scrawny Anna: rereading the same books ninety times, correcting people with flinchingly sharp enunciation in home videos, playing school with my friend Christina and her private-school stock of real office supplies, writing hundreds of lists and beginning tens of diaries that always ended up waterlogged in the bottom of the black bin, working doggedly on submissions for the Neopian Times. I can see me now, that factotum/factoter. Annoying. But with all the options for study and career I could have gone ahead with, the interests of bean-pole Anna seem like a strong indicator that I won’t easily tire of this work.
I enjoyed tutoring at City College, but TPS is already so much better – mostly by way of the students. Standards seem high in the classes overall, but this Chinese contingent is on another level of hardcore. Teaching their kids English is not a light matter for these families, and most are taking a risk just by enrolling. Every student so far has been impressive in some way. They all seem so bright. Most told me that reading was a favorite pastime, and one said her favorite book is The Secret Garden. Like she was kin or something. English being at least their second, sometimes their third language, there is something of a Yoda element about the students: even when their verbs are in the wrong places, I’m awed. Parsing through sentences with them and talking them through their writing process is fun for me in its own right. Yes, I admit that they probably wouldn’t be quite as joyous about the subject of their weekly thirty-minute tutoring sessions as I am.
Sometimes when I’m rambling, Jake likes to interrupt me with this question (always a foregone answer): “Anna, are you thinking about words again?” Always yes. Talking about, looking at, rearranging. With this move I’m just beginning to make a lifelong hobby more productive. Speaking of which, this job pays a lot more than Neopets did.