Thursday, February 23, 2012



I believe I have been very badly scammed and now out by most of my money.

I feel...very stupid.

I might just be the stupidest person in the world. I should have done more research. They send me a "contract" complete with their supposed address and number in Islington and their passport number. I didn't look carefully enough.

I'm going to go and beat myself up for the next few hours.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Drawing Again

Here is some more art. More photos coming soon too.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Progress: Part 1

I have managed to find housing! The rent is about 1200 crowns cheaper than the room that I wanted before that was given to somebody else. It's in an awesome location right in Prague 1 around the corner from a really good pub/English book store. Also: it's not a room, it's a one bedroom apartment that I'll have all to myself.

So, stage two: get a job.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good Points

Here are some nice things I learned from this course about myself:

I am, apparently, unusually good at spelling. My fellow trainees were surprised at the words I was able to easily spell out loud during a game that we were playing during a grammar session.

Also, I talk and write clearly. One of my instructors if from England and loves to poke fun at American accents and "Americanisms," and told me one afternoon that I shouldn't get nervous when teaching, that I know my stuff and that I speak very well. He then raised an eyebrow and commented "Dare I say it...even for an American." My students were puzzled by accent: it's clearly not English but they didn't think it sounded perfectly American either.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Further Details

I decided to have a good night's sleep before fully explaining my grade as I didn't want my blog to turn into and angry/self-pity rant worthy of the most enraged preteen with an iphone and a livejournal account.

Here is how the grading works as explained by John Hanes, the director (and one of our instructors) at the school:

"Incomplete/ Fail is given to trainees who don't complete the course, show no evidence of training, or are simply unfit to be teacher.

Pass 3 is equivalent to a C in the American grading system, it indicates satisfactory completion of the course, evidence of training, but still much improvement and development is needed.

Pass 2 is for slightly above average trainees. These trainees
really learned the fundamentals and can apply them in a lesson very consistently over time and across levels.

Pass 2+ is for above average trainees who do everything that pass 2's do, but there is something extra that the students respond to. In addition their lessons are much more cohesive and engaging. They show deeper insight into student learning.

Pass 1 is superior. These grades are given to the most outstanding trainees and represents performance that is exceptional. The whole package is there, we couldn't expect anything more. Pass 1's represent the highest standard and are perfect exemplars of the school and what an ideal trainee should be."

I was expecting to get a grade somewhere around a pass 2. I got a pass 3. 

I found this news out a couple of hours of looking at one of the two flats I was really hoping to rent. Unfortunately the flat with the really awesome view of the castle and right next to the St. Charles Bridge is owned by a bitter old man who spent most of the mini-tour talking about the evils of the U.S. government and how he's on a no-fly list, not to mention how much he hates cities and Czech Republic in general because they're all liars and cheats. I pretended to be curious about rent and beat a hasty retreat. I got back and found out the other room I wanted had been rented out that day to someone else.
So, these events of course launched me into a fun round of second guessing myself on everything: Am I capable of teaching? What if I can't get work over here? How could I have been so stupid as to think I was doing well when I was doing this badly? Why aren't I good at anything useful rather than just drawing pretty little pictures? ...and so on and so forth.

Now what started to make me angry was finding out some of the grades of the others. There was one student in the class who regularly informed us and our instructors/observers that he's the laziest person in the world, that he threw his lesson plan together about a half hour before he had to teach (and his lessons were aweful), that he was only on the course because he was bored because he doesn't have to work but still only wants a well-paying teaching job. 

This fellow student of mine got the exact same grade as me. One of the other students skipped the morning class one day because he decided he wanted to sleep in. He got a higher grade than I did.

So what's got me really frustrated right now is the fact that even though I was early and attended every class, worked hard on my lesson plans, turned in all the grammar assignments on time and actually completed, when all the numbers added up I got the lowest passing score:

"The the grading data was entered into the carefully designed pre-determined grading system and the results are mechanically put out. I then consider the results and check with the other observers to see if they seem accurate (they always do, we've never changed them) and then I hand the grades over to Jana. This is to make the process as objective as possible and to standardize results across courses. We think it's fair and accurate and if you observed other trainees with similar grades as yours at the end of the course, you'd agree that it is very consistent."

This means I have no chance of getting a job with the Caledonian School (the school where I got my certificate), and may or may not hinder my further job searches. I suppose it'll depend on how good my recommendations from the instructors are.

So there it is.

Must do some flat-hunting now.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Grades are in. I did not do nearly as well as I had hoped.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Finished my last practicing session. The last thing to do now is the final writing assignment for tomorrow.

A nice long post is long overdue and coming.

In the meantime here are some sketches of bearded collies. Thank you to my sweet darling Simon who was unknowingly the model via photographs I've taken over the last ten years.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The End

Tomorrow is my last day of teaching practice. I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, then freak out about finding a place to live, getting a job, and when I get said job having to do the amount of work that thus far I've been doing over the periods of week, only this time doing that amount about three times a day. But I'll get paid for it.

Must go and arrange my last practice lesson plan.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Notes and Drawings

I haven't quite found the time and energy to do my "daily drawings" as of late: the course keeps me very busy. However, that does not mean I'm not doing any artwork.

I sometimes get asked why I do art. One of my answers to that is that I simply can't not. It sounds pretentious, and it probably is, but it's also kind of true. If I'm sitting with blank paper in front of me and a pen in my hand I can't resist drawing, it almost feels like a nervous twitch sometimes. My notebooks throughout my school and college days show this: my notes are all surrounded by various drawings. I feel bad sometimes since doodling is often seen as a sign of boredom and is done while ignoring the instructor. For me personally I find it help me to concentrate in situation like lecture courses where a lot of it is listening. My hand really needs to be doing something, and if it's not taking notes it wants to be drawing.

So, here are some of the pages from the notebook I've been keeping for this course.

First day (I'm trying to stick to neat serious notes):
A cat snuck in...I'll just ignore him.

And...I give up.