I’m exhausted. Over the last few weeks, my partners and I at the school have been negotiating an offer we received from a competing school, Ding’s English. It’s been far, far more time consuming and draining than I had ever expected. Finally, the initial steps are behind us and I can sleep.

Their location was excellent– right by an MRT station, and the classrooms are big. They seem to have been on a downward slide for a while, though. Despite their excellent location and longer existence, we had more students than they did! Maybe that’s why they made the offer. From all calculations, it soon became clear that they were losing money and they were in debt. This made their initial offer to us impossible, but after several rounds of negotiation we managed to come to an equitable agreement.

Then came the logistics problems. They didn’t have that many students, but those few they did have are all strung out amongst two teachers and six different time slots. For us to move in, a few of the classes had to go. Guess who would be in a bind if their old students weren’t willing to merge into our classes?

At times the past couple of weeks, I’ve nearly wanted to give up on it, but in the end all has worked out. Today, I successfully moved all my classes over to their school, and merged one of their advanced classes in with my 2nd year class. Their students found it a challenge, too! I don’t want to trumpet myself too loudly, but for the last three years, I’ve poured all my heart into becoming the best teacher I possibly can, and seeing these results was great. I have multiple classes of students who have achieved superior reading ability, phonics, grammar and vocabularies than their peers at this school who have studied for twice as much time. Admittedly, I’ve put in a lot more time per class than any cram school teachers working for an hourly rate would, and I give a lot of homework, but it’s still a wonderful feeling.

On the other hand, stress has really been a problem. Yesterday, I went to eight different bookstores in search of the readers I’d need for the new students joining my class. Then, I moved things from our old school to the new, chatted with Simon, came home, recorded materials for CDs until 4:30AM, spent until 6AM burning the CDs, got up after just three hours of sleep, copied keys, went into the new school and nearly exploded over a problem getting internet connectivity to my computer there. My Taiwanese partner in the school had a memory stick that would have worked, but refused to temporarily empty its contents onto her own computer and lend it to me for the school. It was a small thing, but I was sleep deprived and under a deadline for THE big day– Ding’s students’ first experience with my classes. I got really irrationally pissed off, but managed to contain it for the most part. In the end, I jogged to 愛買 and bought a memory stick so I could get documents onto my computer in the new school’s office in time to print them for class. All the students got their handouts and everything went reasonably well, but things were rushed and the quality of the classes wasn’t quite up to par. Hopefully the students and their parents were understanding, since it was the day of our move.

Pagewood has made a big step up, and I’ve had a chance to see my students mix with those of a traditional “hardcore” buxiban’s first hand. I just hope the nuisances settle down so I can focus on what I really enjoy, the education.