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Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Madness

What a month!!

Most months pan out quite evenly but for some reason December just exploded for a number of reasons.

Beginning sedately enough, Saturday the 3rd saw me judging a colouring competition known as "Colour Your Day". Aimed at our kindergarten aged kids but stretching as high as 8 year olds, the students were split into age groups. Andy Mac, Emma W and I had a group each and first we had to tell them a story involving the hand puppets we use to help teach kindergarten. I had the 7-8 year olds so they were told an engaging story of two brothers called yes and no. I say engaging and it was for 99.9% of the class. But as I've often been told, "sometimes there's two, but there's ALWAYS one". Yes one little chap just wasn't interested in three-toed Yaks or Kings and stuff. Oh no, what this cherub wanted to do was to disrupt as much as he could. One of the keys to teaching young kids is to keep them entertained and every time they heard the word no they had to echo it really loudly, likewise with yes. There was the story recreated on power point on screen for the better ones to follow the words. There were cartoonish pictures to help visualise the events of the story and for pity's sake there were hand puppets of Roddy our hairless mascot and his gay bear friend Ben (you need to see them :-) ) This was engaging stuff for everyone. Except one. His mission was Obfuscation and Destruction wherever possible. Occasionally just getting up from his desk and randomly kicking other students, he would also lunge for the computer keyboard and try to terminate with extreme prejudice my lovingly created story. Lord only knows what would have happened to the poor defenseless puppets had his tactics allowed him to get to them.... Anyway, the event passed smoothly after this and prizes were given and most went away delighted apart from one parents comment to his 6 year old child "why did you colour the clouds black??"






Sunday the 4th saw me being picked up by the EF driver to be taken to the annual EF conference being held in Jakarta. Picking up another DoS on the way, Anung eventually (after asking numerous people) found his way to the Morrissey Hotel in Menteng.



My first conference it was an opportunity to meet DoS's from all of Indonesia and a great experience it was too.
Leaving the hotel on Tuesday afternoon I'd already arranged to take Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as holiday before the next weekends event. The EF Swara pub quiz.

Held every December, the EF quiz is a great event. Bringing together all 9 schools (soon to be 10 with the addition of the second Bogor school in March 2012), Teachers and staff from each school gather at the Eastern Promise bar in Kemang to be quizzed on a variety of subjects compiled by the DoS's. This year we introduced the questions on power point  which seemed to add another dimension to the quiz as well as speeding up the process of asking for questions to be repeated. BSD, my old school, went into their customary lead but this year managed to hang on and win with EF Pluit second and EF Gading Serpong coming third. Needless to say, Sunday was a day of recovery.

So I sit here on Monday 12th writing this blog entry looking ahead to the rest of the month. This week will be spent catching up before a Course Consultant training session on Saturday 17th which precedes the EF Gading Serpong Weekender.

Every year the EF Schools are given a weekend away with the intention of bonding with cc's and teachers and this weekend, the 17th and 18th we're all heading to Bogor after work on Saturday and returning late afternoon/early evening on Sunday. More on this in January....

Which leads us to the run up to Christmas week. Hopefully it will be a smooth week because after work on Friday I will take my bag and head by taxi to the airport as at midnight plus fifteen, just into Christmas Eve, I will board an Air Emirates flight to the UK for 6 days break with my family before flying back to Jakarta on the 31st of December!

As I said at the beginning.....what a month!

It's said that the hardest thing is to say goodbye........

So I'm coming up to the end of my first full calendar year as a Director of Studies with EF and whilst I'll write a blog entry on my full year at some point, this one is more about change.

Over the years, especially as an Area Manager in the pub trade before my career change, we were taught how to manage change. Change, we were told, is inevitable. To stand still is the equivalent of falling because as you stay in your nice, warm, comfortable area, everyone else is changing around you. And progressing.

Now having had a few years to contemplate these pearls of wisdom I agree. Up to a point. I still think Opal Fruits should be called Opal Fruits. I still occasionally call that nutty caramel bar a Marathon and think Snickers, sounding suspiciously like 'sniggers' was a waste of marketing money.

People however, need to change. They need to develop and they should receive encouragement at every point of their journey to do this. Back in the day, when we were looking for new managers to run a pub, we'd scout the current ranks of assistant managers. Here was a talent pool that had been trained (indoctrinated?) in our values, methods and processes and that could easily step up and fill the void. And yet, some managers would actively discourage you from taking their assistant. Why? well, i guess it meant change. Having to train a new assistant, maybe doing more jobs yourself in the short term.

Imagine how the assistant would have felt, knowing they're capable enough of doing the job, only to find their manager held them back? Yeah, people are frightened of change.

So what does it have to do with this blog entry? Well, people move on. In the world of EFL/ESL teaching, a high percentage of people are "in-between things". Maybe the plan was to stay for a year and then move on. Travelling the world and paying for it by teaching the language. Maybe stay for a second year because of friends that have been made, relationships begun, and often a love of the job itself. As a DoS this is a change that you have to accept. We have made our decision to stay in this particular role but we can't expect our teachers to stay just because we want them to. If the time is right for the person to move on, we should encourage them. If we believe they have more to learn or we have more to offer them, we should absolutely point these things out, but, we shouldn't hold someone back for selfish reasons.

The friendships will always be there......