Archive | September, 2012

Welcome, commenters from that blog that I don’t really agree with

24 Sep

Well, I’ve unanonymoused (not a word!) myself from the comments I was making on another blog.  Some of the other commenters were getting all snippy-ish about anonymouse commenters and I thought, ‘hey, hey now, I can get more readers to my blog! if I unanonymousize myself.’  Gotta get those numbers up.

What else?  Hmmm, still teaching two whole hours a day which I stretch into about four or so hours as I come in early and stay after to prep.  I’ve got a bit over a month left there and the two hours increases to three hours next week.  Woo hoo and etc.

Seems the one evening a week Business Writing for ESL course will be running at Langara starting Oct. 3.  It will run for eight weeks. 

All of this part timeness at various places still leaves me broker than broke and unemployed again come the end of October.  Eeek.  I am proud of myself though – there was a book I really really wanted to buy but it is expensive as books are, so I have not!  And yes, it is on hold at the library.  But me, I’m all about immediate reading gratification in my OCD way.  But the simple fact is, I need money for like food.  And pants, I desperately need a new pair of pants!

Oh and I have the official interview this week to see if I qualify to pay $200 to train to be an IELTS examiner.  I know other people who’ve taken the two day over a weekend course and it is brutal, they say.  Many people fail and don’t get their money back!  And even if you pass and can be an examiner, it is said to be tough tough.  Oh and it is all supposed to be hush hush, kinda like being an undercover detective

The Masters applying has hit a snag and USQ seems to not be getting back to me.  I may have to call in a few days or weeks ahead but calling to Australia is a little pricey. Oh wait, I’ll get a phone card.  Oh that’s okay then.  The deadline isn’t until October 29th but really USQ, get back to me with my important questions.

So it sounds like a lot is happening but really, not much is happening!  I still seem to be wiling away hours and hours doing just about nothing.  Hmmm.

I read on another blog (not the one where I have unanonymoused myself) and the writer was saying how annoying it is when job ads say ‘salary based on experience’ or something like that.  She went on to say that this usually means they pay crap and she is right!  This is the case in ESL anyway. 

So I veer between being terrified of running out of money and being unemployed forever, to quite excited that I’m getting some direction to enjoying napping in the middle of the day (which really messes up my night time sleeping so then I nap again and oy, the vicious circle).  November and December and probably January seem like pretty dead work months though.  Hmmm.

Oh and I was sad to hear that Bonnie Franklin from the BEST 70s SERIES EVER, One Day at a Time, has pancreatic cancer.  I loved One Day at a Time.  Was it not a classic?  Was it not?

So, welcome to some commenters from the blog that I don’t agree with.  And if you want to comment, you are welcome to.  Just not anonymously ironically enough.

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A little part-time temporary thing.

14 Sep

I think that I  have to start thinking of myself as an, “ESL Teacher for hire,” for the next while.  This will not be terrible if I can make enough to consistently live on.  Not sure how that is going to pan out.

First, I went to the corporation the other day briefly to hang out with a former colleague (we left quite quickly and went to a coffee shop).  It was a strange feeling – I hadn’t been by in month and months.  It was a year ago almost exactly that I got laid off from there!  Time flies yet also crawls, go figure.  Seems the place has been spruced up with a bit of paint.  Students were swarming around.  We went up to the teachers’ room briefly.  It felt . . . familiar at first.  My locker is still mine and all of my stuff is still in it!  This is good actually as I may need some of it pretty soon.   And then I felt . . . bored.  That’s the only way I can explain it.  Nothing at all to do with my former colleague, we had a fun time catching up.  Anyway, interesting or, er, boring.  You can’t go home again it seems.

There is one school in downtown Vancouver, a university transfer school actually.  It has a tiny teeny tiny ESL department.  This school has always been in the back of my mind.  It is non-profit, which is unique in itself. Is it a perfect school?  No, of course not.  Does it pay a decent wage?  More on that momentarily.

   All in the timing.  I e-mailed out a resume there last week.  On Monday of this week, I got a call. On Tuesday, I had an interview.  On Wednesday, I was offered some very very part-time temporary work.  Two teachers are on leave and are comng back on Oct. 26.  So, starting tomorrow, I will be teaching two hours – yes only two hours! a day for two weeks and then three hours a day for the remaining four weeks.  It has been made very clear that there won’t be work after that.  Fair enough. 

Ok.  Almost every other ESL school in Vancouver pays between $18-22/hour for what amounts to part-time contact hours but full time work.  Prep. time is not considered and as a teacher, prepping takes hours and hours and hours sometimes.  This is part of the reason I don’t rush to take $20/hour jobs because it’s $20 x at most 25 paid hours but with 40 hours at least at least spent at the job.  You get the idea.  I’ve emphasized that a lot because I think it is so important to understand.

This college pays a very nice hourly wage.  If I worked there 25 hours a week on a permanent basis, I would be living nicely indeed.  At two hours a day it will keep my rent paid and a bit more.  And the four weeks of 3 hours a day? Woohoo!  Won’t have to dip into my savings!

I went in this afternoon and spoke with two other teachers who are teaching the same course and some of whose students I am getting (they needed to add a class as the classes were simply too big).  They helped me a lot.  I prepped for three hours and am ready for tomorrow, at least.   Phew.

More than that, it will, as pal Maggie May says, give me a consistent place to go five days a week for awhile.  This is true.  I’m going to try and ride my bike most days to save on transit costs.

Timing, it really is everything.

Now, I would love more job security and more hours and a permanent job and benefits and etc.  But, this is not too bad for now.  I have to say that I pat myself on the back just a bit that I held out and didn’t rush to the one other school that was offering a month’s worth of work at a bad wage and a not great atmosphere. 

Anyway, so there you have it.  And the class starts at 10 am but I’ll want to be there most days by 9:30 or so.  Not bad at all.  And when I do the three hours it will be 10-12 and 2-3.  Not bad at all.  Building the resume, building the plan.  The plan has well taken a few months to get going.  This was due to my attempting to get completely out of the field for several months.  That didn’t work, not in this economy or in this town.  So now, I’m trying to use the experience I already have to work in places that are not torturous.  And this is happening. Slowly, yes, so slowly that I go ‘EEEEK’ much of the time but it’s -a-happening. 

Apparently one of my former colleagues at the corporation got laid off as she wanted to be.  When asked why, she just said she’d had enough.  Good on her, I get that.  Still, brave of her.

Breaking Bad and such

7 Sep

Ok, ok, ok.  I am vaguely addicted to the TV show, Breaking Bad.  I’m watching it on Project Free TV’s website where you can, well, watch TV shows.  I need to watch about 20 more episodes I think to be caught up.  Luckily, I have the time.  Ha, bitter ha.

The New Yorker recently did an article on the show, http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/television/2012/08/27/120827crte_television_nussbaum which is spoilery if you haven’t seen the later seasons which I haven’t but I only skimmed the piece.   The article notes rightly that the show is addictive but depressingly so.  True indeed.  The main character, Walt White,  becomes brutal very quickly and becomes more so each episode.  It’s also violent and in an upside down way, kind of glorifies dealing crystal meth.  What it does get brutally right is the impossibility of paying for health care by many, many people in the U.S.  White originally gets into the cooking and dealing meth business in order to pay for medical treatment that he needs.  Yikes.  Still, oddly addictive.  Great acting, etc.

And glory be, there is even part of a song sung by The Be Good Tanyas in an episode.   Divine.  Pal Tracy knows the lead singer of the BGT and years ago she introduced me to her – they’re all from Vancouver.

“I love your music,” I sputtered, “And my friend in the psych ward listens to it over and over.”

“We get that a lot,” said the singer.

I sputtered a bit more.  If you don’t know their music, google I say.  They’re not together anymore unless they have changed that recently.

I always sputter around the famous.  About 10 years ago I waited in line at what was the Virgin store downtown in order to have Jann Arden sign a copy of her then latest CD.

After more than an hour I finally made it to the front and there she was in all her Jann-ness.

“Hi,” she said.

Sputter, sputter. mumble.

“Uh, my friend and I took a really depressed friend to your concert and she totally loved it.

“Yes,” she said, “Lots of depressed people come to my concerts.”

Sputter.

Oh geez – dating myself here – but back in the 1980s when Michael Damian was huge on the Young and the Restless, he was touring backwater Winnipeg with his band.  I was writing for the University of Manitoba’s paper at the time and scored an interview.  I don’t remember but I think the article I wrote was pretty bad.  Anyway, I got to watch him rehearse a bit and interview him.  I still have the photo of us together!  Sputter.

A couple of years later in the 80s I followed two 21 Jump Street actors into a store on Robson Street.  Not Johnny Depp sadly. 

Got back from Hornby on Sunday and I’ve diligently e-mailed out my resume to ESL schools that seem a bit less torturous.  Haven’t heard back yet but these things take time.  And as I’ve noted, it is the slow slow season.  I’m living off of my savings now and trying not to be like, ‘holy cow, I am living off of my savings.’

B. College.  Earlier, Director of Studies C. interviewed me about possible work there.  Uh huh.  We discussed wage and as the school was just starting up – a subsidiary of another established school  – C. was telling me how someone with my experience totally deserved at least$XX/hour.  Wow, I thought, how unusual in ESL for a school to get that.  There were some issues getting the school going and by the time they needed me I was UBCing.  I contacted C. again this week. Well, said C., there are many teachers who will work for $X hour now so, you know, we don’t need you.  It’s what the market can bear, he went on. Uh yes, so much for getting the value of ESL teachers.  Yikes.

C’s not alone though – although their wage now is actually below market standard and the same wage I STARTED with 13 years ago.  And yet teachers are lining up to teach there because, well, because I imagine they need a job. 

“They seem quite happy to work for $X,”  C. said. 

As long as ESL teachers are willing to accept crappy wages and crappy working conditions this will not change.  Luckily, I’m not having to actually turn down jobs that offer that low of a wage because nobody’s really hiring right now.  When they are again in the spring, I’m sure I too will be desperate enough to help keep the industry down by accepting a low wage.

In an e-mail back to C, I said how hard it is to go from basically $48/hour at UBC to what is being offered at schools downtown.

And the corporation?  Any new teachers they hire are getting $18/hour.  That may seem like a lot but remember, a teacher is paid for contact hours only – so at most, 25 hours a week. But a teacher works at least 40 hours a week prepping and so on so it really is a full time job.  Yes, $1,500/month or so is better than no money a month but not yet, not yet.

“They seem happy to have the work,” said an insider I know.  Sigh, indeed.

I’ll find out in the next couple of weeks if my Langara evening ESL Business Writing class is a go or not – they need at least 6 students in the class.  That will be once a week for 8 weeks.  That’s an excellent wage but only 20 hours total.  Nonetheless, nice.

I’ve got all of my transcripts in the mail now – turns out my GPA at the University of Manitoba was 3.48.  Woohoo.  Mind you, I did the last year as a visiting student at SFU and the U of M didn’t take into account those marks in figuring out the GPA – they do now but didn’t then.  Woohoo!  Those marks would have definitely brought it all down.  I need to go next week up to UBC (SNIFFLE) and have these documents certified – seems the Admin. Manager of ELI has an official stamp and she’ll sign them for me for free. Nice of her – a notary public would be$20 a document. 

I have until Oct. 29 I think to apply to get into the online Master in TESOL from the Universsity of Southern Queensland in Australia.  The course would start November 13th.  Tres expensive as I said and it will probably take me, for both financial and cognitive reasons, at least 3 years to finish the thing.  It’s 8 courses, no dissertation, woo hoo.  I hear mixed reviews from those who have done it/are doing it.  “Basically,” said one person, “The university wants your money.” True but it is accredited and there is no application fee.

Sorry if I’m repeating myself.  Hmmm, probably am, probably am.

I realize that working on the Masters or even getting the Masters doesn’t give me a thing at UBC – whoa it is competitive there.  Some folks I know with the worshipped Masters in TESOL didn’t get a job there this fall, so great was the competition, so few were the jobs.  Those folks will now be ahead of me in line for the next set of short programs that run Feb-March.  Short programs run Feb.-March and June-August at UBC.  Of that, I’m guaranteed I think the 3 weeks in August which is always busy.  Hmmm, just need to fill 49 more weeks.  Well, say, minus a month for vacation.  okay, I just need to fill 46 more weeks of the year!

All of this unstructured alone time – not the best, that is for sure.  I get into kind of a bored coma and then when I am around people, I kind of forget how to interact.  Oy.

Hmmm.

Oh my I have repeated myself!  Well, thanks for bearing with me.  Very kindly.

The sun is shining brightly, not a cloud in the sky.  A bit of late summer.

Hornby Farmers’ Market and etc.

1 Sep

Hello, tiny wee and little fan base.  I am on my last full day on Hornby Island and it has been a slow and mellow time, not to be confused with my slow time in Vancouver.  Well, mellow in the sense that the Glenda and Gloria are mellow.  Two more mellow people would be hard to find.

Saturday is Farmers’ Market here on Hornby and I went last year when I was here and again this morning.  Lots of beautiful pottery and jewelry – not a tacky piece in the bunch.  I wanted to SPEND A LOT OF MONEY THERE.  But I held my self back because I DON’T HAVE A JOB BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A MASTERS.  Sorry, a bit of obsessiveness there.  I knew that going in but had a little magical thinking.

Anyway, at the market they have frozen mango on a stick.  That was interesting and tasty.

I dig the chilled vibe there – that’s how we talk on Hornby.  More dread locks and funky relaxed people who like to make conversation.   Not like Kitsilano Pool I’ll tell you that, people, I will tell you that.

So I ended up having frozen mango on a stick and a brownie for lunch.  Both nice little treats.

I accidentally let Lola the dog out to run away and so Gloria and I chased her down.  I was only one not so mellow about it.  The Glenda was afraid she’d get shot for chasing chickens.  “On mellow Hornby?”  I asked.  “There are guns here,” she said.  “Oh,” I said.

I’ve been doing a bit of riding on an extra bike they have out here so that’s very nice.  It’s a mountain bike and a wee one but we cyclists adapt.  I hear tell that it is supposed to be quite nice in the big city where no one talks to you next week, so I’ll be back to my overbiking.  Hmmm, and job applying and etc.

This may shock you, tiny fan base, but I do tend to get quite nihilistic about this whole job thing. Obsess, obsess, worry, worry.  “Karen obsesses very well,” said the Glenda to the Gloria.  I beamed with pride.  “Well, we all have a talent,” I said, a bit giggly.

Now Glenda is going to tile so they have a place to put in the woodstove that is coming.  I’m going to go to the potter’s house two doors down and NOT SPEND MONEY ALTHOUGH I WILL WANT TO.

Oh!  There is Ms. Pacman and Galaga on the ferry – at least the one I was on to get here.  A quarter a game!  It is just like I’m sixteen again.

Yo, Gail, shall we renew our Friday gatherings?  Maggie May, I’ll be by next week.

frustration, free stores

1 Sep

Still on Hornby.  A nice little island.  It’s been the Glenda, Gloria and me.

“”I don’t think you could be a Hornbyite,” said the Glenda while we were at the Co-op.

“Huh?” I said, as I got her attention so she could see the joke glasses I put on.

“You’re mind is too busy.”

True.  I don’t really have the mellow Hornby vibe.

At the pub tonight we had a lovely buffet roast beef dinner – thank you, The Glenda.  There were a few tall men with dread locks there and lots of middle-agish folks.

“Tall and dread-locked is a theme here,” I said.

“Have another pickle,” said the Glenda.

There was some nice live smooth jazz too.

Hmmm.  ELI at UBC was indeed hiring some people for the fall term of the Intensive English Program and we were all sent out e-mails to ask if we were interested. Is the Pope Catholic.

Is he, is he.

He is.

Well, it seems that zillions of people applied – go figure – and so they took all the Masters of TESOL people because, according to the collective agreement, this is something they should do.  And so many to pick from.

Sigh.  Now fair enough my UBC boss didn’t know there would be such a great crop of Masters folks to pick from and I get that.  But i think it would have been better not to have had the idea of work there in the fall offered at all.

I have been teaching for mroe than 13 years, and about 6 of those as not too bad of a teacher.  I am fully and utterly qualified. I taught lots of short programs this year at UBC, including the notoriously difficult Explore program.  But hey, it’s Vancouver and everyone and their dog is looking for a job.

I’m unsure yet again what to do.  I can start work on the expensive Masters but won’t finish realistically for at least 3 years.  UBC might have work in short programs in the summer next year or not or who knows.  Short programs only run Jan-March and June-Sept. and they didn’t really need anyone except for 3 weeks in August this year.  So can I live on 3 weeks a year?  Ha.  ha.  And the Masters wouldn’t guarantee aa thing, not a thing.  Sigh.  And then ageism starts coming into play, says the Glenda, get the Masters now, she says.  She’s right, she knows.

I’m trying not to go through my usual ticked off cycle about this because I knew the deal going in.  Uh well.

And so now . . . .back to the drawing board it seems.  Maybe a downtown school will be hiring but the summer is over so who knows.

Am I a better teacher than I was a year ago when I was laid off from the corporation?  Absolutely.  Am I more confident?  Absolutely.  And those are great things.  Probably wouldn’t trade them to be stagnant where I was. 

And yet . . . I’m frustrated. Let us not dangle a carrot people, when the carrot needs a Masters.  Or something like that.

Hornby has a great free store, something said to be unique amongst the Gulf Islands – it is at the recycling depot.  Hornby is very green indeed – http://realhornby.com/experiences/agreenisland/.

I’ve been scoring free New Yorkers, even a new Walrus.  It’s getting a little crazy and I will have a heavy load to take home.  There are clothes, electronics and all sorts.  Free.

It’s up a big hill to get there and down a big hill to get back.  A woman gave me a ride both ways, on the way back all the to the Glenda’s.  ‘Down Gunpowder Trail, I think,” I said.  She came in for awhile and chatted with the Glenda and Gloria.  Tis the Hornby way me thinks.

Time for bed and off to read a magazine or two and then I can return them to the free store before I leave on Sunday morning.  Tis the cycle of life.