I had a young student who lived in the Taipei equivalent of a mansion. She didn’t like to be read to, but she loved being the teacher and leading me in activities that she would do in a normal school day.
This stick-figure collaboration came from an offshoot of “Writing Workshop” called, appropriately enough, “Making Books.”
The best part, I think, was when she actually sat still for the 2 minutes it took to read the book, and then we named all of the heads in the last picture. It included her teacher Mr. Couch, her mom, dad, baby brother and herself, as well as her grandmother and maybe her aunt.
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Today was a good day, if I consider the start of the day to be 11:40! I finished up a two week subbing stretch which means BANK!, plus the kids were great. I’ll soon be finished with my own little …bunch, which I’m not too bothered about, though I think I’ll miss the original few or perhaps more accurately, the ones I consider the core class.
In other news, I saw the Hello Kitty car again today, wedged up into a parking spot I didn’t know existed in front of the PX Mart.
In other news, my Taiwanese teacher/fried food vendor now has an older buddy who has the thickest accent in the world. I had been starting to wonder about when my ability to detect accents in Chinese would emerge (beyond the most basic this is Beijing and this is Taiwan), but I’ve totally got it down with this guy. Half of his words sounded like he was speaking Taiwanese! He was very helpful, but food words don’t get you far with building useful grammatical sentences. I really want to buy this Taiwanese book, but I haven’t had the money or the time to get into Taipei and find these people. Maybe next weekend!
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Posted in Taiwan, tagged 5th grade, 6th grade, Chang Long, depressing, junior high school, kindergarten, me, pre ban, problem kid, Rong Fu, teaching on Wednesday, 23 June 2010|
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This week started poorly and has not been improved by the ever-warming weather. Today continued the pattern: I was tired in Chinese class, one of my kindergarteners came back from a mini-holiday only to be sulky and uncooperative, the very thought of my evening classes filled me with a mild but insidious frustration, and budget calculations show that I’m not going to have any fun until at least September (and only if I’m lucky and get a lot of hours).
Even though I wasn’t looking forward to teaching, I knew I could count on the early class today to pick me up–and was then sorely disappointed by apathetic, mostly out-for-summer 6th graders. Not only that, the problem kid in this class, who is usually not too big a concern, actually caused some big distractions today. I got back at him by withholding bathroom privileges for 10 or 15 minutes which felt far better than it should have.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m in such a mood lately, and I’ve boiled it down to job satisfaction: I don’t have much. I see kids 50% of the time they come to class (the Chinese teachers see them every time) so there is a lack of consistency. The school policy of 100% English is an impossibility that serves to create a gap between me and the kids that only the Chinese teacher can bridge. In addition to the gap, there’s the added frustration of resolving questions and managing homework and classroom activities in limited language that the majority of the class can fully comprehend.
And to top it all off, I have discovered I can’t stand teens and pre-teens, who make up about half of my classes. I believe I said earlier that I like mid- to higher elementary school students best, but I was wrong. It’s lower elementary I like because they still have enthusiasm.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I couldn’t stay angry and frustrated because my junior high class actually cheered me up. They were mildly responsive, and then my CT (Chinese teacher/co-teacher) suggested and implemented a seat change so we sat in a rectangle rather like a small college class. She also brought out her stash of fake money so we could start a system like I had in high school Spanish: responses get money, students hold the money to buy test points or candy and class parties. I have been wanting to do this for a while, but I haven’t had the money to buy… money, so I was glad when the CT brought up classroom ideas and volunteered her money for my idea. I only wish she had brought it up before class, instead of just before break. I won’t argue the results, though! I’d be hard-pressed to say the class was on fire after break, but they were more involved due to proximity, and the CT sat in the desk-square and we had a real co-teaching relationship going on.
Another good thing: I know with certainty that I may be a good explainer, and even a decent teacher, but I am not and should never (again) be a foreign language teacher. And it’s always nice to check something off the possibility list and narrow options down.
So now I’m happier. Rebecca, this is how I do it: be angry and huffy in my head until something good happens. When the good happens, let it outweigh the bad.
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In just a week, I’ll have a tiny kindergarten class all to myself. There will be four students whose parents want extra prep for their kids (or need the little boogers in daycare sooner than August), and since I have a Chinese-speaking homeroom teacher, we’ll have a teacher-student ratio of 1:2. That is pretty awesome, I must say.
I am quite excited, and I hope I get to name them. I had some input on renaming one of my younger students who was going by Feifei (pronounced Fifi), but that was initiated by the Chinese teacher, not me. She’s now Sophia, by the way, which is far more dignified, suitable, and appealing. Go team me, CT, and Sophia’s mom!
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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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Posted in Taiwan, tagged kindergarten, subbing on Thursday, 25 March 2010|
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The money/hell week! I’m subbing two kindergarten classes and 3 Tree House classes in the next three work days, in addition to my normal 3 classes for that time period. Basically, I’ll be teaching what I thought I wanted when I asked for a contract back in February: kindergarten, mid-level, and buxiban, as full-time as an hourly teacher can get. I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be overjoyed that I’m on the smallest contract come Monday night!
In other news, I get to move in to my new apartment in a week!
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