My eighth grade students are evil spawn. They would not be quiet; they would not listen; I had several students get up and leave and come back with more people in the middle of classes. They wouldn’t attempt to speak English. They complained when I told them I don’t speak Chinese. They were a nightmare.
They appear not to understand spoken English despite the 8 years of English classes they’ve already had. They know how to read words, but they do not seem to understand the meaning behind those words. So I wrote down the rules on the board and they were able to read the words, but then completely lacked any comprehension of what they had just read or said aloud.
Games that were great successes in my 5th grade classes were complete failures in my eighth grade classes and I was left, after 20 minutes in my first class, without teaching materials or ideas because my expectations were apparently too high. So, I came up with a “game” which basically just involved me writing a category on the board, and having the kids name things within the category. The second class had only a few participants, but the third class, the most advanced, really enjoyed it and got very excited to continue playing. Their excitement boosted me up as well and I look forward to doing the same thing with my four eighth grade classes tomorrow.
Fortunately, I only have the eighth grade classes once every other week. Unfortunately, my English classes with these students may be the last time they are ever required to take English and thus some of them have no enthusiasm to participant or take anything seriously. Add on top of that, their general hormonal eighth grader mess, and it becomes frustrating chaos. But now I know, and I am more prepared for tomorrow’s classes and for the seventh grade classes next week. (I was supposed to teach seventh graders this morning but they have no classes all week this week because they have military training instead.)
We went out to the coffee shop this afternoon after classes and met another foreign teacher from England who we talked with for about 2 hours. Though pleasant and frequently helpful to talk to other foreign teachers, those conversations quickly become dangerous traps focused on complaining rather than on positive experiences.
Duncan and I are trying to remember that we are still in the adjustment period and we have not yet established a set routine we can get comfortable in. Once we are more established and settled the days will be easier and more enjoyable. We are very much looking forward to our trips outside of Baoding once we get our residence permits (which should hopefully be soon).
Though not particularly exciting or uplifting, that is all I have for today. I’m learning a lot from teaching and I can tell I’ve already done some personal growing from this experience. While I’m here, I’m also thinking of focusing on learning a new skill such as learning Chinese, playing the erhu, getting really good at jump-roping, becoming successful at braiding my own hair, and (if I get really bored) studying for the GRE. 😛
Regardless, this truly is going to be an adventuresome year.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
Also, if you have any suggestions for my seventh and eighth grade classes, I would be so happy and appreciative to hear them!