Saturday, August 16, 2014

Busy Summer!

Well, it's not surprising that I haven't posted in a month!  I hope you've been having a nice summer.

I've been busy getting used to a new routine now that I'm working at IH Philadelphia.  The course I'm teaching is a summer intensive and this is the first time I've taught a group three times a week.  I love seeing the learners more often and I think it helps their memory.  It's much easier to prepare for a 90-minute lesson than a 3-hour one, that's for sure.  But I've injected some suspense into the process by scheduling my prep session for just before I leave to teach.  I give myself exactly one hour.  Will I have a decent plan when it's time to jump into the car and hit the road?  Well, I'd better -- cuz the deadline is fixed!

On the other two days of the week, I'm meeting with a private learner (advanced level). Two-hour sessions with one person are (for me, anyway) more difficult to plan.  But we get along well, and she knows that part of the planning is up to her: in addition to my own responses to her performance and progress, she needs to share her feedback on the quality of the lessons and how she would prefer to spend our time together.  Over the last four weeks, she has reported improvement in her ability to understand quickly spoken American speech.  Now she wants more speaking practice.  If she re-ups (her course is ending after next week), that's where we will go next.

One nice thing about the new setup is that I actually have afternoons free now.  Obviously, I'm not spending the time blogging, ha ha!  I have stepped up my fitness routine, which was non-existent before January, and am being more intentional with mindfulness practice. And I'm meeting friends for coffee. (A teacher with a social life?  Go figure!) Eventually, all this free time will get sucked up into studies if my plans go, um, as planned. But the break is refreshing!

I also got a new computer, which has been surprisingly time consuming.  It's a Yoga 2 Pro, which is an ultrabook. It's light enough to carry easily in a backpack and has a touchscreen, so it can function like a tablet.  In addition to the usual shifting of data, programs, and configurations, I'm learning how to best use the new features ... and getting used to Windows 8.1. (And stumbling into some glaringly inconvenient bugs along the way. There are workarounds, but I'm wondering how they got past product testing and why they aren't patched yet.)  Ultimately, I think this machine will be a good choice for the classroom. I no longer have access to a projector, but I can prop the Yoga up in tent mode (see link above for an image) to show a video to my relatively small group. And I can actually use my attendance spreadsheet right in class. Get this -- I can even pass the laptop around and let the learners sign in directly!

Actually, I have been blogging ... or typing reflections into blog posts, anyway.  I hope to clean a couple of them up and share soon.   Meanwhile, here's a decorative summertime picture:

House sparrow (weaver) in South Philadelphia.
Yes, I have also had more time to take the "good" camera out for some fun!  I bought it in December for taking pictures of birds and scenery, primarily when on vacation.  But, heck, why not use it more now while the weather is fine?

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