I’m sorry for my posting absence – it has been a fairly quiet week of teaching with nothing unusual happening here at the Shuang Yu Xue Xiao (Baoding Eastern Bilingual School).
The week went by fast as the daily routine ushered along the hours and classes each day. The most notable change from our life here in China is the fact that we had an entire smog-free week. Though very cold (winter is definitely here and I actually need to buy more winter clothes), the sky was blue and cloudless every day – a welcome relief from the never-ending smog mixed with the rancid smell of burning plastic.
So I’ve decided that this post will give you a look into our daily routine on a normal teaching day along with some observations about the uniqueness of living in China.
Tomorrow, Monday, my day will go a little something like this:
6:30 – The alarm goes off and I hit snooze until about 7 when I actually get up.
7:00-7:40 – I wake up, check Facebook and email, drink a cup of coffee in the room, get dressed, and make sure I’m prepared for the day’s classes.
7:50-8:30 – Teaching class (Monday’s I have all sixth grade)
8:40-9:20 – Teaching class (During the ten minute breaks in between classes I typically stand in the hallway and read from my Kindle, play Candy Crush, or talk to students.
9:20-10:15 – An absurdly long break in the primary school (grades K-6) schedule. On days when I am teaching in the middle school (grades J1, aka seventh grade, and above) the classes are 45 minutes long and the mid-morning break is shorter. During this break I usually return to the room and read. Some days we use this time to get a water jug for our water cooler, talk to administration, start the laundry, clean the room, and do any other odd tasks (like receive packages from the mail vans) that might be necessary and/or convenient.
10:15-10:55 – Teaching class.
11:05-11:35 – Teaching class. This class is the shortest class period in either of our schedules. Some days, such as on “jaozi day” (a day when the cafeteria serves a special kind of dumpling), the class is even shorter. Several times, Duncan’s class during this period just hasn’t shown up because they were playing on the playground or had decided to head to lunch even earlier. On Mondays when I teach sixth grade, the class I teach during this period is one of my more advanced classes, which is unfortunate because they have to get a shortened lesson.
11:35-2:30 – Our lunch break. Every day we sign out of the school, head to our favorite alley (most days) to get street food for lunch, and head on over to QLH. We eat our “jampiguozi” (homemade naan bread filled with eggs and sausage, cooked with spices and special sauce, and wrapped up like a burrito) at one of the tables outside of QLH before heading inside. We typically spend about an hour in QLH reading, drinking coffee, and doing whatever lesson planning is necessary. Around 1:00 we will get back on Kuai Long and head back to the school. Some days I take a nap and other days I read, do Rosetta Stone, practice the violin, or watch TV on the internet.
2:30-3:10 – Teaching class.
3:20- 4:00 – Teaching my last sixth grade class of the week. Classes continue until 6 in the evening but I never teach in the primary school past four. Some days, I teach middle school classes until 6 but never later than that.
4:00-10:00 – Once both of us are finished with classes we will typically head to dinner around 5:00 or 5:30 (most restaurants don’t actually start serving dinner until 5:30). There is one Sichuan style restaurant right next to the street food alley and right around the corner from QLH that we frequent. Rarely do we go to the other “newer” side of town during the week. Though certainly easy to get to, now that the weather is getting colder and colder, long trips on Kuai Long just don’t seem worth it. If we do go to the other side of town for dinner, it’s probably to get Pizza Hut over by the foreign imports mall.
After dinner we typically head to QLH for our evening coffee and the free Wi-Fi that enables us both to use the Internet at the same time (we only have one Ethernet cable in the apartment). I will typically finish lesson planning for the week if I haven’t already done so over the weekend and we both read.
Around 7 or 8 we typically head back to the school (we have a 10pm curfew) and we spend the rest of the evening exercising, practicing the violin, studying Chinese, talking to friends or family via Gmail or Facebook, and prepare for the next day until we decided it’s time for bed.
Pretty much every day follows a routine like this with variations in what classes we have and when we are teaching them. Every day we go out for lunch and dinner because we cannot cook in the room (the hot plate we were provided is broken and, when plugged in, sends sparks around the room). Though we are busy with something to do pretty much all day everyday we also have a ton of free time. Sometimes I wish that we didn’t have such a long lunch break and that we could squish all of our classes into the morning and early afternoon and then just be done teaching sooner. We’re grateful for the break but it makes going anywhere or doing anything unlikely because we have to make sure we are ready and back on time for afternoon classes.
Fridays, Duncan is done teaching at noon because all of the primary school students go home for the weekend and every other week I have no classes on Friday because the middle school students go home for a long weekend (Friday-Monday) after eleven days of classes.
We’ve considered going to Beijing for an afternoon or for an evening considering the ease in getting there but then we remember it would cost us each 130 kuai just to get there (not counting any within-Beijing transportation costs and whatever we actually did in Beijing) and have decided against such a trip. We are quite content, though sometimes a little bored, to stay in Baoding during the week.
The only plans we have for today include shopping for winter clothes (wish us luck) and getting dinner with Enkui and his family later this evening. This week, in honor of my favorite American holiday, I will teach all of my classes about Halloween with a lesson plan filled with zombies, vampires, and the “This is Halloween” song from “Nightmare Before Christmas”. I might even throw some Michael Jackson “Thriller” in there for my older kids since they always name him as one of their favorite music artists.
With this on the agenda, I’m sure this week will provide more stories and excitement than last.
I hope everyone has a good Halloween week!
感谢您阅读 (Thanks for reading),