Yesterday and today were two more beautiful days in the neighborhood. The sky was cloudless blue, the sun was shining brilliantly, and the air was crisp with tinges of fall. It was so nice outside all the windows in the school were opened to let the autumn breeze fill the classrooms. Taking advantage of the nice (and smog-less) weather, we turned the AC off and opened the windows in our apartment as well. We ate our dinner outside in the Military Square Park and watched as dozens of high-flying kites filled the sky.
Yesterday, I taught all fifth graders today and all of my classes were great successes. I’ve been pretty pleased the past few days being able to conduct class without the need for a translator regardless of whether or not they are in the room. We talked about the parts of the family, how to correctly say whether or not you have siblings and how many, and how to describe people. In my last class, the kids generously described Ms. Alyssa as having blonde hair, big eyes, a big mouth, and a big nose! Another kid, mispronouncing a word, said that another classmate had blue ears! They all also thought it was great fun that I included great grandparents and great aunts and uncles on the family tree we created on the board. I have no criticism about yesterday’s classes; they were all wonderful and I enjoyed them a lot. Plus, I found out that some students from my classes told one of the administrators that they enjoy my classes because they have a lot of opportunity to practice their oral English. Thus, as far as the students are concerned, I’m doing my job right!
Today I didn’t teach until 2:30 and then I only had three seventh grade classes, which went well. I finished teaching basic greetings and started teaching idioms. Today I taught the kids that “break a leg” means “good luck”. Because they were so great, I told them that next class I would teach them an American song. What song should I teach?
Duncan’s problem from the other day has been handled better than we could have expected. The administration listened to both sides, agreed with Duncan, and, after observing one of Duncan’s classes, told him he is one of the school’s best teachers. On top of this, they are going to encourage the other Chinese teachers to sit in on his classes to learn from him how he conducts his classes and interacts with the students. Administrators openly agreed that positive reinforcement is the best way for students to learn and they acknowledged that too little of it happens in China, in general, and they would like to encourage more positive reinforcement in this school. The entire situation has been handled professionally, personally, and efficiently. Maybe we really can make a lasting impact on our school!
And as I sit here writing this I keep asking myself, “Have we really been in China for 34 days?” I still can’t believe it – we’re living in China! This adventure has been nothing like what I imagined it would be, but now that I’m in it and living it every day, I cannot say what would have to change to make it more like my previous expectations. Despite the challenges we’ve had already, I wouldn’t change a thing, because even in this short amount of time, I can tell I have grown and changed through these experiences. I am certainly becoming more patient and my tolerance for the unexpected, unplanned, and nonsensical increases everyday. This journey, even only one month in, is making me a better person and I couldn’t be more grateful that we have the opportunity to partake in on this life-changing adventure. Thank you to everyone who encouraged us, supports us, and helped make it possible.
The next two days are weird because of our week off next week for National Day. We will both be teaching next Monday’s class schedule tomorrow and this Friday’s schedule on Saturday. We have high-speed rail tickets to Beijing for Monday morning and our first big travel adventure will begin with our friends from back home, Lindsay and Steven. We are all very excited and many pictures are sure to follow!
Thanks for reading!