In my former blog, I posted about a student I taught about 2 years ago who was christened "magic English pill woman." I posted about my difficulties dealing with her and with her eventual departure. I was glad when she was gone, but unfortunately, she may be back for a brief session of 4 lessons this month.
I got a call from the referral agency today and was asked if I'd take her back for a temporary stint. This put me in an unfortunate position because they said things like, "You just dropped her because of the schedule, right? It's not that you personally disliked her, right?" The truth is that I didn't personally dislike her, but I found teaching her like herding cats. She was impossible to keep on track or to get to teach in any reasonable way. It was either me trying to bully her into doing something resembling a lesson, or allowing her to speak a hodge-podge of Japanese and English that wasted both of our time.
With the agency pretty much putting me in a corner, I had to decide if I'd take one for my reputation as a teacher and keep in good graces with the agency or if I'd do what I really wanted to do and just refuse. The situation is not too dissimilar from attending one of those awful drinking parties after work because one must be seen as part of the group to be viewed favorably by the company. You don't want to do it, but you bite the bullet and just handle it.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with her. She's supposed to have some purpose in studying this time around, but she didn't have one last time. I told the agency to find our why she wants to take the lessons so I can structure something this time. I did mention to them that one of the issues I had with her before was that her attitude made it difficult to teach her. They said they believed they knew what I meant because they detected something about her when speaking with her on the phone in Japanese. They didn't say clearly what they meant, but they said, "she can't help it."
I'm going to approach her behavior as if she were a person with a serious learning disability who cannot focus or actually learn anything. I'm wary of succeeding too well with any type of lesson with her because I don't want to keep teaching her after her 4 lessons are up, but I also don't want to bang my head against the wall trying to push her to learn.
Perhaps I'll get really lucky and she'll change her mind about being my student again. After all, she complained about me last time so I'm not even sure why she's come back around my way this time. There is the very real possibility that other teachers had her before and categorically refused to teach her this time. I wouldn't find that the least bit difficult to believe.