I Held a Ukrainian Woman Hostage for Twenty Minutes: an Epic Tale of Forgetting When Class Ends

Since I’m still a baby teacher, it takes me forever to plan a lesson. I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, so I spend hours researching English grammar and plotting out examples and explanations.

Yes, it IS as crazy as it looks.

My last few lessons didn’t go as well as I would have liked, and I was just given another student for one-on-one lessons this week. My confidence as a teacher wasn’t terribly high, but I had high hopes for this new student. I took a hard look at what I had done with my previous lessons and how I could have done better. I put a lot of time into planning the lesson for this new student. I was ready for a fresh start.

First lessons tend to be hard, especially if they’re one-on-one; everyone is on edge because they’re alone with a stranger and don’t know what to expect. It doesn’t help that I have the social skills of a drunken hummingbird trapped in a hall of mirrors.

Still, the lesson didn’t start off too bad. I was proud of how well I had structured it. Everything is going according to plan, I thought happily to myself. I’m starting to get the hang of this.

Then I looked at the clock.

Oh shit, I thought. We still have an hour left and we’ve almost covered everything! WTF do I do?

What I did was stall. I dragged every bit of speaking out of her that I could. It felt like I was trying to turn everything she said to me into a conversation. After we used up all the activities I had planned as a backup, there were still twenty minutes to go, so I pretty much babbled about possessive pronouns for another few minutes. This meant I was trying to spontaneously explain a grammar point that I hadn’t planned on teaching, which is a very bad idea. Don’t try this at home, kids.

When I saw the utter confusion in my student’s eyes, I gave in and said, “That’s ok. We’ll talk about this more in the next lesson.”

Then she said, “So that’s all?”

I looked at the clock. Shit! Still ten minutes to go! I thought about it really hard. I didn’t have anything else for her. My options were: let her go now and hope she doesn’t complain to the school that I ended class early, or continue talking out of my ass and hope she learns something through osmosis.

“Yes,” I conceded. “That’s all.”

After she left the room, I looked over my lesson plans again. How the fuck did we get through all of this in one lesson? I was baffled.

At around 11 o’clock that night, I realized that the class ended half an hour earlier than I thought it did. I kept her there for another twenty minutes because I was afraid to end class too early.

I had written the class times on my calendar so I wouldn’t forget.

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