Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

So today in class we were making up sentences using the verb “is” in my kindergarten class…

One student says, “My teacher is very pretty”….then Alex (my very precocious student) says “My chinese teacher iss…isss. very young”

“Really Alex…how do you know? …My Chinese teacher is a thirty eight year old..very young”.

“Alex…do you know how old I am?”

“No, no how old?”

I whisper in his ear, since I really don’t want that many students knowing…or really I just don’t want their parents knowing.

“Alex, I’m twenty-two”

His mouth falls open, “woooooooow, teacher is a twenty two? That is soo young?…a twenty two years olds, wow”

You can never tell how old people here are…after the age of 20 everyone looks about the same till 30-35. I am constantly surprised, and most people are always older than I think. Man, asians age well. I’m dying to know how old my co-worker Elisa is. I can never tell. Curiosity is getting to me.

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Those who know me, know I don’t “do” crying. I am not a fan of crying in public, other people crying, or me crying. Generally sniffling and sobbing makes me intensely uncomfortable.

Today 5 separate students of mine cried.

Fuck. The extent of my reaction is to hand them a tissue, beg them to stop, and then just inwardly cringe. I’m getting slowly better at dealing with this, I’ve progressed to awkward pats on the back and making silly faces but this does not always solve the crying. And its not as if its ever my fault. If anything I am too nice (which is very detrimental to classroom control and thus my own sanity) Why are these kids so damn sensitive?

Baby Pre-K 10:30: Wayne…his mother (my boss) is in a meeting with one my Kingergartner’s parents. I tell Wayne, firmly that he must sit down and quit jabbing the smartboard over and over slowly breaking it and ruining the programs for the other students. Instant screams….”Moooooommmmmmmmmmmmy”. Kid is 3 and really knows how to throw a tantrum. After 2 minutes of ear piercing shrieks, I cave and shove him out to his mom, who he definitely annoys the crap out of for her whole meeting.

Kindergarten 2:30: I ask for Home Connection books. Thomas starts bawwwwling (I’ve never seen him cry though he is a quiet, delicate boy). WTF. Its a book he often forgets, why the freak out? Note: trying to understand a child through giant gulps and sobs who already does not speak good chinese, is not easy. Though I find his lost home connection book (which he claims is the reason for being upset) I do think its because I told Ivy that Thomas is seriously behind, and it was his mother who she met with this morning. Whatever his mother said to him, to make him so scared and upset…not cool. The kids are overworked as it is.

Kindergarten 3:00 Michelle silently cries at her desk during story time because she doesn’t think she did well on the spelling test (which did have some very difficult words this week). She cries alot, over losing games, etc. She always wants to do the best. A tissue and a mini-pep talk is all she gets.

Second Grade 5:00 Teacher Sylvia comes in to my classroom and yells at Steven to put away his drink (I’d been over looking it because for once he wasn’t being a wild/insane child). She says drinking in class costs him 15 stickers. Steven has been moderately well behaved all week because he is saving up for an art-gum eraser I promised students if they have 30 stickers¬† they could trade stickers for one(he just got 30 yesterday). He starts crying. I have never seen Steven cry about anything even when Sylvia was ripping him a new one in the hallway. Dang. He must really want that eraser.

Second grade 6:00: Joe has been virtually silent all class. I assume he is sick, though is head isn’t hot. Maybe a headache. I look over and he has laid his head down completely. Eva says…”Why is Joe crying?” I turn around and recognize the look no teacher wants to see. The ‘I’m gonna puke face”. He makes it out of the room and basically decorates the entire 4th floor kitchen. Lovely.

Now? I am fucking tired. No more crying people….Theres no crying in baseball…why not all the time.

Time for taiwan sausage, rice, eggs, and some Lost. Its pouring rain and freezing out. Yesterday morning–sweltering. Go figure.

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Face diamonds

In class today we were learning shapes. Yesterday I did the easy ones: circle, square, triangle. Today I thought we’d mix it up a bit: heart, oval, diamond.When I get to diamond and start drawing it, Thomas stops and says, “Teacher…diamond on your face.”

I stop, and think what?….Then I realize. The nose ring. I have a sparkly square one in today…yes yes indeed diamond on my face. Hehe. Little kids crack me up.

That and Madeline in her story yesterday wrote. “My favorite meal is breakfast. Today I ate food made from my mom.”

Hold up a minute….”made FROM your mom, Madeline?” …”You ate your mom for breakfast?”…..who knew little words like by or from could be so amusing.

Little things like this, and trying to explain what “guts” or “wimp” mean to second graders, really challenge my understanding of the English language. More and more I realize how so many words have double meanings, double pronunciations, alternate spellings. And making sure to choose the right one for my students constantly keeps me on mental alert. Guts is your insides…like your stomach and things….or it can mean you are really brave….umm yeah, I don’t know why those two things…I guess without intestines you can’t be brave?

Don’t even get me started on trying to explain what “nervous” is to 6 year olds. Abstract concepts….crap.

In other student news, I got a new addition to my Baby Pre-K class, a little 3 year old girl named Lingling. Since she is younger than the boys and hasn’t had 6 months of school already to become used to it, its proving pretty trying have her there. The fact that she speaks no English at all, is not great, since basically I talk and she talks and nothing passes in between. “Lingling, sit down…sit down….lingling…sit down….why are you walking away….sit down!!” graaaaah. Also my Chinese only allows me to understand her every 3rd word of her incessant babbling…..”something something something something..so big”….or “something something something…16th floor”….Wait, didn’t she really say 16th floor or am I mishearing. I look at her grandma who brokenly tells me what she said…”Her home is very high, the 16th floor”….dang I’m not crazy. What is going on, why is she talking about her home…I thought we were talking about snacks. Dammit. She’s really sweet though, and I’m glad to have a girl with all the boys, maybe it will calm them down some.

In other news…dating across the cultural divide…maybe a success? Who knows. Things that are different are always fascinating for a while. Though the middle language area between English and Chinese is still pretty confusing.


Doraemon lantern at Lantern Festival. Haha. Oh commercialism, you crack me up.

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Learning Curve

So my learning curve for classrooms I’ve decided is three days. It took 3 days to master the pre-K class and since today was the first day of teaching kindergarten as well as second grade, neither was mastered, maybe awkwardly handled, and finally completed.

Managed to pretend I wasn’t sick all day. That and talking for 5 hours are now wrecking vengence upon me and my throat as I type.

I sound like Darth Vader.

Unfortunately my hopes that the pre-K class would gain lightyears of maturity over the weekend and be prepared to be quiet, behaved little kindergarteners was not the case. Charlie still threw things, Alex still laid in the floor trying to sleep, and Thomas still sucked up to the teacher. Justin who is too smart for kindergarten but too young for first grade, got bored as usual and then started riling everyone up.

The fact that kindergarteners do not play duck duck goose as much as pre-K, and have to sit at desks, was not seen as a good thing by the class.

I did manage to read them a long story, teach the difference between “animals” and “people” and what are in those categories, sing I’m a little teapot, and get them to color their name tags and draw pictures of themselves. Elisa, who has the kindergartners complete devotion is going to help me more on Wednesday.

Second grade was not that bad. Reverse situation. Loud girls, silent boys. Connie, who is almost as tall as I am, is the bored, smart one. We read Corduroy, learned about homographs, /u/ sounds, and I attempted to learn names but since all the boys look exactly exactly the same, I continually confused Joe, Thomas, Stephen, and Robban (yes he insists that’s how I spell his name).

One of the boys George has a perpetual angry look on his face. I can’t decide if he just looks like that, or if he really is the angriest silent child on the face of the planet. Its like he smells something really disgusting for the entire class. I cannot get him to say a single word, all I get is the angry face.

However some of the students are lovely. In kindergarten there is Athena, quiet with dimples, there is Angus who always looks anxious and does his work well, Robban who has giant front teeth and gives ridiculous answers to make me laugh.

Tuesday I don’t have school, so hopefully I can recover from the cold I have and then refortify myself for wednesday. The 2nd grade class on wednesday is 3 hours instead of 2, good lord thats alot of time.

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Vacation Trip

Jennifer is Sick

Hides inside

Drinks some wine

First day of school…

I thought I was done with this crap?

Maybe that doesn’t rhyme, but then again poetry was never my thing, my thing was Victorian Literature, and all things written¬† by dead old white men. As Pat knows about my diatribes against Prof. Jarman, poetry and I have been battling for a long long time. So sorry for that bit of poetic sludge. Its the cold medicine I promise.

In other news:

Greetings from the new apartment. It is pretty snazzy here and only 4 blocks from the old digs. (Yes I used the word digs, yes I may be living in 1962).

This weekend, after a tiring three days of teaching a class for the one other english teacher (Keith) who is on vacation, Tina and I were whisked away for an impromptu weekend vacation…and by whisked away I mean taken begrudingly at 7am to a mountain cabin with 30 other people that Aunt and Uncle work with.

It was nice though, there was a pool where I swam around in a t-shirt because my bikini is apparently to hot to handle here, but then was later goaded into wearing just the bikini and fulfilling my Americaness. Then there was barbeque chicken and corn and Taiwan Beer…and then there was a sore throat and a raging migrane and then fever and dizziness and laying in bed wishing to be anywhere but here. There was drinking of mystery medicine and more laying around and then finally some fitful sleeping since Asians don’t beleive in soft mattresses but prefer to sleep on just the box springs/floor/bamboo pad. The next day, mildly better. Sitting around, playing cards, watching tv, coming home. The vacation was in the mountains south of Taipei in Wulai. There were apparently hot springs but the only thing I saw was a rock pool full of bathtub temp. water. The cabins were lovely and huge and there was a waterfall right right behind our porch. It was very much like going to the Smoky Mountains when I was little and staying at Cobbly Knob.

The waterfall behind the cabin.

Me, retrieving a giiiiant snake skin from the wall behind the cabin to the screams of Lulu, Tina, and Aunt. They were grossed out, I was fascinated…really, its just skin. I would be more scared that I climbed over the railing onto a giant wall overlooking rushing water.

Said snake skin. Isn’t it cool.

So this boy, whom I refer to as “Puffy hair boy” proclaimed his love for me last week at the office, while everyone laughed at him. “You are very beautiful. I can be your friend?” Since then, I’ve stayed distanced a bit and everyone has tormented him unmercifully. For a photo op I hopped on his scooter, and he completely freaked out that I was so close, hence the bashful smile from Puffy-haired boy. I think I might have made his day

Sadly there are no wedding bells in the future, as puffy-haired boy is 15, and well….has puffy hair. An unfortunate fashion trend for teenagers, where they get their hair all crimped so it stands out like a big fluffy poof. I think that they think its bad ass….

On a final note. Or two final notes.

Cheers to the new apartment. I will post indepth pictures as soon as we have curtains, couch slip covers, prints on the walls, I own a bed, and we have a tv.

I give it a week before we can amass all of these things. Right now its nice, but a bit spartan.

Also. Tomorrow is the first official day of school. Though I’ve been teaching preschoolers for the past 3 days, tomorrow I have my own classes, a kindergarten one and a second grade one.

I am terrified. But only because I know two hours is alot longer than I think it is. And because the lesson plan book is full of stupid shit that no real 5 year old would sit through. Where are you Ms. Harper when I need you. It’ll be fine, I have enough inane songs and vague questions to last me to infinity.

Lesson plan books, fie. Vinyl retro couch,fie.

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