Posted in Taiwan, tagged da ban, people, wandering, Xinzhuang on Saturday, 13 November 2010|
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Occasionally, I run into students outside of school. Usually it’s slightly awkward for me as I struggle to remember their name out of the context of the classroom and their classmates, and sometimes, as in the night before Halloween, it’s awkward because I’m walking down the street with my roommates, carrying open beers and heading to a bar.
Less frequently, it’s awkward because the student is weird. This afternoon, I ran into a kid who I really only taught for three or four lessons, but who nevertheless always greets me loudly: “Teacher India!” He never says hello or good morning or anything else, only the teacher’s name. To be fair to the kid, he’s only been in English classes for four months or so, but on the other hand, he’s one of the best students in that class and it surprises me that he doesn’t try to branch out any farther. The encounter kept getting more awkward, since we ran into each other at a bakery I don’t even usually go to anymore and wound up going in the same direction almost all the way to my house. At one point, I stopped to pointlessly adjust my headphones just to fall back a little.
But there are also the great little run-ins, and after I lost Toby/Eric (he changed his name because Toby can sound like “pen-thief”), I saw Leah and her whole family. Leah is one of my favorites from Tara’s class that I’ve subbed for long stretches, and it was just sweet to see her, say hi and keep walking.
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I started out enjoying myself, but feeling quite sure I’d never take on a kindergarten class. I wound up still enjoying myself and considering taking a kindergarten class in August. This mostly depends on whether I can sign a 6-month contract, which would be only one semester. Something to investigate!
A few snapshots: the sweet contrast of serious little Neil and Leah focusing intently on learning their phonics and then running squealing in the playroom to play monster ball, Ivy in the Chang Long middle class holding my hand and petting my arm while asking me questions, constant flattery from the big class at Rong Fu. They called me pretty at least 7 times in two days, and at least two little girls complimented my black flats from Payless with the heels starting to peel. Seriously, 5- and 6-year-olds are shameless!
Even the problems weren’t so big, like Nick and Chavelle in the middle class. Chavelle had a hair-trigger temper and constantly demanded apologies from her classmates, and also had to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes, but was generally sweet and always very quick in terms of English. Nick was slow and distracted at first, and then became clingy and was always poking my butt or leg, but… um, he helped me out in my dream last night? Well, in real life, he too was pretty sweet. I wish I could steal that class from their teacher, but odds are only so-so. I’m more likely to get the first class I ever subbed, which is okay too, I guess.
All in all, I rank kindergarten above middle schoolers and below mid- to higher-elementary schoolers.
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Posted in Taiwan, tagged Chang Long, da ban, funny, kindergarten, me, observations, subbing, teaching, zhong ban on Tuesday, 27 April 2010|
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Over the past few days, I have spent a lot of time with 4 and 5 year olds, and it’s very fascinating how people just don’t change from then on. There are the tattletales (oh my goodness, are there a lot of tattletales in Chang Long’s 中班! — Teacher, he push and I say “Say sorry to me!” and he no say!), the quiet workers, the power-mad dictators, the helpful and friendly types, and my favorite: the heroes.
Last Monday, I observed this middle class for the second time. Many of them remembered my name from a few weeks ago, when I observed them in preparation for my first kindergarten teaching ever, so I was touched. A few of them even came up and asked me questions in the “run and practice with your friends” part of the class. On Wednesday, I taught and observed (the teacher who was leaving on vacation wasn’t going until late in the evening, so she came in to give me even more ideas and to get paid for 2.5 more hours), and they were still little angels. In fact, I spent a lot of time trying to smother laughter because they were just so cute playing dodgeball and freeze tag. Freeze tag was especially hilarious because as soon as they were tagged, they stood spread-eagled and bawled “Help me! Help me!” until someone came to free them. I wish I’d taken video!
Freeze tag is not a game I ever thought I would use to assess character, but Bonnie is not just a bossy 5 year old; she’s a loyal little hero and tactical mastermind. She saves all the kids, even the irritating ones like Nick. She sizes up how close “It” is before she dives under someone’s legs, and if she might get caught, she rockets off and makes a second pass. Most of the other kids only save friends, and some can’t even manage that. They’re content to run and yell, which is not a bad thing, but the contrast is amusing.
Two children who should be carefully followed in the future because they will become powerful political forces (for good or evil) or petty middle-managers: Alice and Angel. They were the little teachers in the two classes I observed on Monday, and the power shot straight to their heads! To be fair, though, they don’t need the title to be bossy, as I’ve seen in following classes. Some kids take the little teacher title and do nothing but lead the class to the bathroom, but those two micro-managed how the class was sitting and took initiative to propose games and activities.
This really makes me wonder how I was at this age. I suspect I was pretty bossy which implies outgoing, but if so, what happened?!
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