Today was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The skies were blue, the air was crisp, and it was a refreshingly clean day indicating the beginning of fall.
I had four seventh grade classes today and the international students. Though all classes were successful, my international students were the most difficult because they are the least talkative. The seventh graders will ask questions, tell me when they don’t understand, ask me to demonstrate, and make it very obvious when they are pleased or upset with how things are going in the classroom. My international students just kind of sit there and stare at me. I keep picturing the SpongeBob fish blink when I am teaching the international students.
Today I taught the seventh graders different ways of saying “hello”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, various greetings such as “what’s up”, a variety of responses to “what’s happening” and “how are you” (so they will stop responding mechanically with “I’m fine thank you, and you?”), and many different ways to say “good bye”. Today’s classes were the first classes I felt I was actually teaching new material rather than reviewing things they should already know or covering material their Chinese English teachers (theoretically) have already taught them. The lesson was very successful and students were the quietest they’ve been without a Chinese teacher coming in and yelling at them to basically sit down and shut up. Then, we played a relay game where teams had to say one of the new phrases we learned and respond appropriately without any repetitions and as fast as they could. Hopefully, the sequence “what’s up? – Nothing much” is secured in their brains and they will be able to respond with some originality to “how are you?”
In my international class, I covered the different English greetings that I taught to the seventh graders (of course at a faster pace and without the relay game), some tongue twisters for pronunciation practice, a few idioms off the top of my head, and similar sounding words that are spelled differently (like smile, small, and smell; they’re, there, and their; you’re and your; and our and are), and time. The differences between last weekend and this coming weekend seem to be very difficult to non-native English speakers and I hope I provided some clarity (for my sake and theirs). Though we covered a lot, and because I get no helpful feedback from the international students, I feel like I’m floundering in that class. I won’t see those classes for another two weeks though, so I’ll have plenty of time to figure out more to do with them.
I had a very good day, but, unfortunately, Duncan did not. One of his third grade Chinese teaching assistants, though she is supposed to speak English well enough to translate to the students if need be, seems never to understand any of Duncan’s intentions for the class and thus ends up interrupting him or telling the kids to do something completely different. All of the classes that she is responsible for are also clearly behind the other third grade classes in English ability as well as behavior management. Duncan walked in to one of this teacher’s classes last week to see all of the students physically fighting one another and the teacher not paying attention. One student grabbed and pulled another kid’s ear so hard, it ripped in the back and started bleeding (a move learned from this teacher). Duncan’s frustration with this teacher’s classes has been growing since we’ve been here but today things came to a head.
In the middle of Duncan’s introduction of class where he gets the students listening to and participating in what he is teaching that day, the teacher walked up to him, stood in front of him at the front of the class, and told him that he was going to teach the kids to dance. Taken aback, he said no and tried to continue with his planned lesson. A few minutes later, really loud music starts playing and the teacher tells the kids to get up and dance and tells Duncan to write the words on the board so the kids can learn the lyrics. The song in question? “My Humps” by the Black-Eyed Peas. Ignoring the fact that this had absolutely nothing to do with the lesson he had planned for the day, he told the teacher to turn off the music because it was inappropriate for these kids and he wasn’t going to teach it. She responded by changing it to “I love Rock ‘n’ Roll” instead and told the kids to dance. She then proceeded to go around the room and slap and kick students who were not dancing. Duncan turned off the music, told her to stop, and attempted to continue with his lesson again. A few minutes later, she turned “My Humps” back on and told the kids to get up and dance. Once again, Duncan turned off the music and told her “we’re not doing that today”. This time she proceeded to yell at the children that Duncan said he hates the kids, that he thinks they’re stupid, he’s angry with them, and to shut up. Some students that had not been “dancing” (really the kids were just running around the room beating up on each other as usual) had taken out their English books and were doing actual studying and homework. The Chinese teacher, after yelling at these kids, decided to throw these students’ books on the floor and ripped one student’s notebook into four pieces. Duncan tried to do some damage-control by telling the students that he likes them and that they were doing great and then pointed at the teacher, told her she was the problem, and walked out of the classroom. We still haven’t found the right administrator to discuss this problem with and we’re just hoping the kids weren’t beat up on too much by the teacher after he left.
After our classes were done for the day, we rode over to KFC for dinner and then stopped by QLH for a couple of hours of quiet time. With our recent McDonald’s and KFC meals, I have now eaten American food in China from places I refuse to eat at in the States. Sometimes, though, you just need to eat a chicken sandwich.
The days and week really fly by when we’re busy teaching classes all day and we can’t believe our first week-long holiday vacation already begins on Sunday. We are super excited, though, to begin traveling!
Since today was so beautiful outside, I took a lot of pictures while we rode around on Kuai Long during our lunch break. Here are a few so you can see what looks like in sunshine splendor.
The view from the coffee shop:
A giant intersection we ride through everyday:
Baoding at night (outside the coffee shop):
Thanks for reading! Wan an! (Good night/sleep well!)
P.S. Happy birthdays today to Emily and Conner! And thank you to J. Covolo for the card!