By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 18 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.
It’s Getting Late
Glancing furtively at the time – an occupational holdover from my Wall Street days – I see that it’s now 12:40 p.m., and still no student. I have the receptionist call Snia again, who, I’m told, has just gone out to lunch. I instinctively grab the telephone receiver and speak to Marly, another secretary, to try and get to the bottom of this.
Hello, Marly? It’s Joe. How are you? Can you tell me if Mrcio has called yet?”
“Yes, Joe,” she replies, “he just called in to say that he couldn’t make it to class today. I’m so sorry about that. Snia didn’t tell you?”
I thank her for this latest news flash, hand the phone back to the receptionist, shrug in resignation, and return my visitor’s badge to the security desk. I then rush out of the lobby with the video in hand, and prepare for the long trek back.
Being stood up is a major dor de cabea (headache), I don’t mind telling you, for private teachers, who are busy enough as it is not to have to worry about no-shows, let alone be able to confront cancellations on a periodic basis. Often, they must plan their day well in advance, and to the split second.
Going to class and not having students show up – especially after they’ve already confirmed the lesson – is a precious waste of time and resources, and downright disrespectful as well. I couldn’t help but get stewed over the situation.
However, students are not always responsible for their cancellations, as business obligations do take precedence over English classes. The teacher must realize this and tread lightly, where the student is concerned, to avoid a direct confrontation with the frequent offender. A well-placed suggestion, or “word-to-the-wise” talk, can usually overcome most stumbling blocks. But be prepared for those inevitable missed sessions; just try not to take them too personally, as they are nothing more than ossos do ofcio (part of the job).
How long should a teacher give a student no-show? I usually waited about half the lesson, say approximately 45 minutes of a 90-minute class. There are no hard and fast rules regarding this, by the way, but a goodly amount of patience – and reasonably sound judgment – are warranted on the teacher’s part before getting up and going on to something else.
One possible solution to this problem may be for teachers to space out their classes more evenly to allow for a variety of unforeseen circumstances. Making gaps, or janelinhas (windows), in your daily itinerary may help to alleviate the stress of those annoying times when you find yourself falling behind schedule. They are also of immeasurable aid in having to replace a canceled class.
Speaking of which, teachers should try to keep those Saturday-morning sessions and early-afternoon weekend hours open for this and other purposes. It may mean postponing a planned family outing at the beach, or that longed-for excursion to the countryside, but it can prove most profitable to you in the long run. You never know when you’ll get a call for that extra teaching assignment, or that last minute translation task, which will necessitate putting in some serious overtime hours.
I frequently found myself working many a Saturday – and all day Sunday, too – just to complete the transcription for one of those “wonderful” HBO cable-TV programs (ah, the good old days!).
Again, you will learn by experience and decide what is best for your own particular situation.
Part 19 next week…
Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes
A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.
To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:
Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?“