This is insanity. I had eight hours of class yesterday. While that may not sound like so much to some, for a teacher at least, it’s a lot. While I’m in class, I’m basically at the front of the room, pacing back and forth like bull, shouting out directions and whipping my students into a (controlled) frenzy. Phonics drills for beginning level students are especially hard on the voice; I exaggerate and draw out each vowel sound at the top of my lungs.

Normally, a teacher at this kind of school only does four hours a day of class, but I’ve managed to line up twice that on Mondays. Part of it is that unlike many of the Modawei-decended schools, I not only have evening classes for third graders and up, I also have early afternoon classes for first and second graders. For most of the year, that has meant that on Mondays and Thursdays, I have five and a half hours of class. Then came the problem with Kristen.

Kristen is the cutest, most adorable second grader in the world, and she tried to take my evening class. I recommended to her parents that they wait six months and then have her start my class. You know how willing Chinese parents are to put off any sort of schooling for their children… In the end, we gave it a shot. She worked hard, I gave her a few remedial classes, and I kept in touch with her parents. It didn’t work, though. She was too little. She had a hard time remembering the grammar, her writing was too slow, and her homework was taking her way too much time. Over a couple of months, she slowly started disliking English class. She always had a great attitude while she was there, but she complained at home.

The solution was simple- move her into an afternoon class. There was a problem, though. I only had one class for first and second graders, and they had already been studying for 7 months. They’d finished almost all my phonics curriculum. They’d also gone through level five of Up and Away, 20 Up and Away readers, and eight Dr. Seuss books. There was no way she could fit into that class. That class doesn’t end until fall, and by then Kristen will be a third grader and won’t get out of school early enough for my afternoon classes.

Faced with all of these problems, I did something crazy. I pulled her from my evening class, and opened a summer first and second grader class for her. It’s two hours a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:45 to 2:45PM. So far, she’s doing wonderfully, she loves English again, and fortunately for me, five other students have trickled into the class. After eight teaching hours yesterday, I woke up feeling like I’d swapped voices with a 50-year old smoker, though.