Thursday, 24 October 2013

Time. Stats. OMG.

Returning from Argentina in mid-July, I was hell-fire-inspired to do a TEFL course - to learn how to teach foreign-language speakers to speak English. The method behind that madness is that I would like to return to Argentina for a few months to continue learning Spanish - and I need to be able to earn an income while I'm there. Teaching English makes a lot of sense.

And so, on 16 August, I jumped head first into an 11-week course, recommended by my neighbour, who did the course a few years ago. The first six weeks were really challenging and gloomy and trying; the last five weeks have been very positive and productive. 

For the most part I've had classes every Tuesday and Thursday night and full-day Saturday classes too. The first three Saturdays were consecutive and thereafter they've been alternate weekends. But the Saturday's without classes haven't been for p.a.r.t.i.e.s.... nope, assignments!

While I'm an accomplished multi-tasker, I have really struggled to take on anything but essential tasks - even declining social invitations and I haven't participated in any events either. I had to pull out of the Full Moon race in late August as it fell on a course Saturday. Thank goodness the annual rogaine was cancelled because I really don't think I would have been able to go. 

Tonight I did my final teaching prac. There's just a full-day class on Saturday and then a class on Tuesday night to go. Oh, and the sixth and final assignment to hand in for Tuesday. 

So, this evening, while waiting for the class, I started adding up the hours to see just where my time has gone and why I've literally been non-stop for almost three months.

Class time - 120 hours
Adding up actual time spent in the 28 classes, I get a tally of 120 hours. That's for the Tuesday and Thursday night classes (three hours each) and the Saturdays (8-hours).

Drive & waiting time - 65 hours
During the week, the classes start at 17h30 - zap-bang during rush hour. With 27km between me and the week-night class venue, I chose to leave just before 16h00 to miss the congestion. The drive would take 35-40 minutes and I'd spend the remaining time catching up on reading class material - two lever-arch files worth of reading material. The Saturday venue (at the school) is in Ruimsig and for me that means a 50-minute drive (55km each way) with no traffic, which is easy on a Saturday morning.

For these final two weeks, as my teacher is moving, we've had the Tues and Thurs classes out there too. In order to miss the traffic, I leave at 15h00 and the drive takes an hour. I use the rest of the time for reading class material. 

Adding up time spent in my car - driving and waiting (constructively), I get 65 hours

Drive distance - 2,145 kilometres
Partnered with time is distance. By Tuesday night, when I return from the final class, I will have logged 2,145 kilometres! 

Teaching pracs - 222 hours
The one thing about this course is that you get a lot of teaching experience with teaching pracs (TPs) every Thursday night - with the exception of 10 October, which was FEAT. The first three TPs we did to each other (there's one other girl on the course with me). We've had real students (African countries) for the other six. 

Here's the thing... the first five TPs were very stressful. We could do no right. Long story. It's really hard to account for how my time I spent preparing each one suffice to say that we're talking mega hours. When I asked Robyn tonight how long she thinks that she spent on each TP she says it was easily an average of more than 24 hours. Yes, 24 hours (and more) per prac.

For each lesson we have to select materials, create materials, research games and ideas online as well as grammar and structure and productive skill activities... and then we make materials, design games and put together a class that includes receptive skill (listening or reading) and productive skills (speaking or writing) and structure (grammar and the like) all within a theme - like kitchen, travel, cosmetic surgery, people and such. And then also writing up detailed lesson plans for each one and finding realia (props), printing pictures, making layout of activity sheets nice-nice...

Some of those early to mid-field pracs... I could say 30-hours, easy, per TP. I got better with practice by certainly last week's lesson and this week's lesson took me, for sure, 15-18-hours each to prepare.
So, if we take four lessons at 18 hours and five lessons at 30 hours... yeah, 222 hours. That's 9 days and 6 hours.

Assignments - 136 hours
We've had six assignments (last one still due). My favourite was the third one, a case study. I had a Russian guy as my student and the assignment involved first meeting with him to chat. I recorded our conversation and typed up a transcript from this to identify grammatical and pronunciation errors. He also had to answer two written questions - again to look for written errors. I then created a one-hour lesson around one of the identified errors. After the lesson he wrote a reply to a question, which was tailored to make him use the taught elements. Then, everything had to be pulled together and written up with comparative reference to a text on common errors of Russian first-language speakers. For this assignment alone... we're talking a good 50 hours (more?). Thank goodness for that long weekend in September - those four days were spent writing up.

Assignment 1 and 2 are a blur. None of the assignments can be done in a couple of hours. They take a chunk of hours over a period of days. I'll take a flyer at saying 15-hours per assignment... That's 30-hours.

Assignment 4 I handed in this week. Materials evaluation. Comparing materials from published course book to gauge what makes a good course book. We also had to evaluate our own materials, selecting what we deemed to be our best board plan, game, poster and activity and assessing these against certain criteria. Mmm... phew... ummm... 20 hours?

Assignment 5 was a joint assignment with me and Robyn setting a test together. A comparatively quicker one, I'd have a guess at it taking 15-20 hours. Let's go midway with 18-hours.

I haven't started Assignment 6 yet... I know I'm in for a good 15-20 hours.

[update: I forgot to include my 'Reflective Journal' entries. One per class. It's around 20 typed pages (Calibri, 12pt) - another 3hrs?]

Looking at my Assignment tally... Yup, 136 hours.

The overall total? FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY THREE HOURS! 543 hours!

That's 50 hours a week. For a part-time course! No wonder I'm drop-dead exhausted!

That's also 68 eight-hour working days. In 11 weeks (of which there are only 55 working days).

On top of this this there has been FEAT (planning and organising starts in February, picks up in May and then again in July and is most intensive from mid-September to a week after the event - mid-October), planning and prep for the two mini-FEATs next month and  ongoing client committments (media releases, two school coaching/event sessions, magazine articles, website maintenance on AR and FEAT), completed my British Orienteering Federation coaching qualification (a whole weekend in September), attended meetings here and there...

If I've said to you, "Please can it wait until November" I wasn't kidding. What a journey this has been!

In two weeks I'm heading to the forests to finalise route plans for Forest Run next year. Let's just say that I can't wait to get out there - to run, smell the pine trees and to go to bed early.

No comments: