VIPKID has no shortage of polite, well-behaved, and well-mannered students, and that includes Trial students. However, I’m not going to talk about them today. Today, I’m going to talk about one of my most memorable Trial Classes ever. I’ve taught almost 1000 Trial Classes now, and let me tell you that I’ll never forget this one.
By Teacher Guillaume Belley
His name was George. To this very day, anytime a class doesn’t go smoothly, I just tell myself, “At least it wasn’t as bad as George.”
The class began well enough, even though we started about five minutes late. George was an abominably cute 5-year-old with dimples, big brown eyes, and a mushroom cut. “Hello!” he squealed as soon as I turned on my camera. “Hello,” I replied. “What’s your name?”
“Hello George. My name is Teacher Gui. How are you?”
A blank stare. Then, “George!”
“How are you?” I asked again, stretching the words out and putting on a big smile. “Are you happy?”
“George!” he yelled into the mic, destroying both of my eardrums.
OK, it was clearly time to move on. I skipped to the next slide.
“George, let’s sing the Hello Song!” I crooned.
“George!” he boomed. I lowered the volume on my headset.
Try as I might – and believe me, I tried – he would not repeat anything I said, nor would he say anything but his name. It was time to try a different approach.
“George, let’s stretch!” I exclaimed, upbeat. Maybe tiring him out a bit would leave him a bit more amenable to my teaching efforts.
Success! We stretched our arms, then our legs. Then we ran, and finally we swam. Good job, George! He had earned his first star. After a rough start, things were going well.
I offered George a high five, enthused. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in high fives – he had suddenly discovered that blowing directly into his mic was just about the coolest thing in the world. I muted my sound and tried to get him to stop: puppets, a stern scolding, wild gesticulations, and eventually a desperate heartfelt entreaty to his better nature. All to no avail.
I conferred with the firemen, but apparently Mom and Dad weren’t answering the phone, so it was just George and I. Thankfully, there was only about five minutes left in the class, so I hunkered down and decided to wait out the storm. George had gotten a little quieter by this point, so I cautiously donned my headset and skipped a few slides ahead. Maybe he’d enjoy drawing on the PPT?
“George, do you have a mouse?” I asked, holding my mouse up to the camera and pointing first at it, then at him. He held out his own mouse to the camera, and I flashed him a thumbs-up.
“This is a circle,” I explained, “You can draw one too!”
George was very excited at the idea of writing directly on the PPT, but drawing a plain, boring old circle wasn’t really his style. Nope. He started scribbling furiously, determined to turn every last pixel on the slide blue.
“No, George!” I cried out. “Circle!”
But George, again, was having none of it. As soon as I erased the board, he would just start again. Since it only took me one click of the mouse to erase it, and it took him so much effort to color it in again, you’d think that this is one fight I could have won – but no. George was indomitable, and he emerged victorious in the end. Some students just want to watch the world blue.
At exactly the 25-minute mark, I flipped to the last slide of the PPT. “Bye, George!” I gasped, exhausted, head throbbing.
“Bye, teacher!” he replied, beaming, his diabolical dimples on full display. And with that, I closed my camera, exited the class, took off my headset, and went to brew myself an extra-large coffee. It was about 4:25 in the morning, and I had another class in a few minutes!
So ends the saga of George. The funny thing is, his parents actually signed him up to the program the next day – maybe they admired the perseverance I showed in lasting the full 25 minutes without losing my cool? I can only hope that his behaviour later improved as he became more accustomed to online learning. In any event, next time you have a naughty student – Trial or otherwise – just take a deep breath and think to yourself, “At least it’s not as bad as George.” It sure works for me!