Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Saturday, October 28, 2006


by AJ

One thing I do like about the traditional school system is the school year calendar. Its one of the few things that actually works in education, and it works well.

The American school year has several breaks built in, including a "long" (2 month) summer break.

As I complete my first full year teaching at IIC, I'm realizing how important those breaks are. They provide time for teachers (and learners) to rejuvenate. They provide time to get away from the subject matter, do other things, and let your brain work unconsciously for a while.

Without this, we grow stale. Doing the same thing over and over again without a break is a recipe for burnout.

And that's what's happened to me. For a year, most of my waking hours have been focused on English teaching. I teach my classes. Then I come home and think about the classes. I brainstorm ways to improve them.

I added tutoring hours at The Linguist. I started teaching a few private students.

Then, last month, I started teaching a night class at IIC and at the same time launched my new student website, Effortless English.

Throughout this time, I've never had much of a break-- mainly because I get no paid vacation at my job- so when I do try to take a break, I end up going in debt and more stressed out than if I'd skipped the vacation.

All this has taken its toll and last week, something snapped. I'd simply had enough. Enough of teaching English, tutoring English, writing about English, and thinking about English every moment I'm awake. My energy level is extremely low- I have no enthusiasm in my classes anymore. In fact, the quality of my teaching has dropped dramatically and suddenly. I finally realized that something had to be done.

While I still can't afford to take a nice long trip somewhere, which is what I really need- I have decided to scale back considerably.

I've told my school that I'm finished with the night class. I've cut way back on The Linguist.

Most importantly of all- I'm drawing a stricter line between "work" time and "play" time. In other words, I'm trying to avoid thinking about English when I'm not working. I used to go to coffee shops and brainstorm ways to make improvements-- now I have a strict "no English" policy for my free time.

Long term, I realize that the traditional school year- with its many breaks, is the most productive. We need significant periods of time to relax and recharge. We need significant periods of time away from our subject of teaching or study.

Education is not factory work.

Sometimes the most effective way to work is to not work at all.

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