AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL OF MY FAVORITE STUDENTS, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS ALL OF MY STUDENTS
First off, don't be so hard on yourself. There's no reason to. You are doing great. Hold your head up high.
Also, quit apologizing for being a lousy student and making no progress and basically wasting my time. None of that applies. If anything, I'm jealous of you. I wish I could take up another hobby and devote myself to it as seriously as you devote yourself to English.
No, not all weeks are great. Some weeks you guys seem to take a collective breather and kind of zone out. (I haven't figured out why that happens or what the pattern is.) But the next week you're back in the starting blocks, raring to go and putting a smile on my face once again.
Look, the reason you feel like you're struggling is because I'm a bit of a dick. I like to tighten the screws every now and then in order to keep you from getting complacent. I mean well. I'm not that big of a dick. But yeah, letting you feel good about your efforts once in a while could also work. Unfortunately, I seem genetically incapable of that. Sorry.
Here's a theory that I subscribe to, mainly because I came up with it myself. If you have nine really really bad sessions, and in between there's one really good one where you fire on all cylinders and use phrases you didn't even know you knew, that means your English is good, and you have actually made headway. It's just that nine times out of ten you're too tired or not in the right headspace to make it count.
Anyway, the truth is that I'm really and truly in awe of you. I even tell you that sometimes, but you brush it off, like I'm just blowing smoke up your ass. I'm not. You tell me I say the same thing to every group. I do. They're all wonderful. You say I'm just trying to keep you hooked. I am. It breaks my heart to see people drop out. But that's not really why I say that. I say it because I mean it. Would I say it even if I didn't mean it? Probably. But you'd know I was lying.
A plumber comes and fixes your sink. A masseuse gives you a really nice massage. You're happy to just stand by or lie back and enjoy. A teacher, however, can hardly make someone excited about coming to class. Maybe the first few weeks they can. Maybe. But not twelve weeks in and definitely not in mid-January or late July.
What you can do as a teacher is try to make the students feel comfortable once they're in. Make them feel like they're making good use of their time and make sure they feel good about themselves on the way out. (Despite what you hear them actually say on the way out.) (Also, use verbs other than "make.")
I like to think I have been able to do that in my classes, for the most part anyway. But I couldn't do it with random people. I couldn't do it with people herded in by their bosses or their parents. I can only do it with people who come in, take measure of what's going on and figure, "Hey, this doesn't suck too bad. And the people here are kind of nice. Now let's just get rid of that knucklehead on the barstool and we're in business, baby."