2 weeks of teacher training down. One to go.

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My Co-teacher Andrew Yellis. He teaches the class right before me, and we share a classroom. Love the shit out of this guy! Don’t know if I could ask for a better co-teacher

So, I just finished my second week of teaching. Saying that I am having growing pains in the classroom does not come close to explaining the last two weeks. A little background information to start is necessary. I have been awarded the opportunity and bestowed the punishment of teaching the youngest students at this summer school. Imagine 2nd graders. Now imagine fifty-five 2nd graders. Now imagine fifty-five Chinese 2nd graders. Now imagine fifty-five screaming  Chinese 2nd graders. Yes, it is adorable and terrifying all at the same time. This is the first time they have been exposed to English; they do not know how to read or write in Mandarin; oh and I forgot—about ¾ of them just finished Kindergarten and lied about their age.

Before you begin reading, I need to introduce you to a special someone, Diamond (see picture below). My co-teacher Andrew and I decided that someone needed to be named Diamond in our class. We said we would know who Diamond would be, because she would sparkle. On day one, it was clear who Diamond would be. With her Disney princess type dress, pearls and curly pigtails, Diamond was born. It soon became clear that she had an extensive wardrobe full of many frilly bejeweled dresses. Since that first day, she has come to school with fake hair, a tiara, and a headdress with jewels that hang over her face. While she is my favorite student, she is also the most disruptive student in my class. This has made for an interesting situation. With this being said, keep your eye out for Diamond in my passages. She was born to entertain.

Meet Diamond

Enjoy reading about my first two weeks in snap shots of how I felt on that very day!

Day 1:

I am a rock star…best teacher ever. Kids love the shit out of me. High note and Low note=the same:  My pants rip down the back entirely on my first day. I pretend to be a naughty student that can’t sit still at my desk when rippppppppppppppppp. Thank God I co-taught on the first day. Andrew had to walk up and down the rows the rest of class. Lesson learned: Don’t pretend to be a naughty student at desk where the wood is splintered

Day 2:

Absolute failure. My angels have officially turned into devils. Tommy refuses to go into the reflection chair. After waiting for him for a solid minute, I cave and walk away. Lesson Learned:NEVER CAVE IN FRONT OF YOUR STUDENTS.

Day 3:

I have the hang of this! In the clear! Students are eating out of the palm of my hand. I actually convince myself that teaching is just natural for me.  (hahahahahahahahaa—this is hilarious) I have them doing “total physical response” (TPR) to “This is red, this is blue, this is green” —-lovely dancing and screaming occur. High point: I realize there is still a parent in the back of the classroom that is only staying to learn English herself. Lesson learned: Wear clothes that you are okay with sweating through entirely. TPR is exhausting.

Day 4:  

Diamond is the devil incarnate—standing on the desk, talking constantly. Every time I correct her, she tries to charm me with her pearls and smiles. High Point: Diamond goes to the reflection chair when I tell her to. Lesson Learned Diamond knows she is adorable and will use it as a weapon against me—I must be careful.

Day 5

Disaster hits. It’s Friday, and I have antsy kids. Tommy and Tim are punching one another in the face (Yes, they are 6 years old). I tell them to go to the reflection chair, and they will not listen. After wasting 5 minutes of class, a parent from the back comes to help me. She tells Tommy to get up, and what happens? He starts balling his eyes out. All psycho babble that Nagging’ Nancy and Bonsai Bob taught me regarding effective communication cannot be applied in this context—my Chinese sucks.

I also choose to administer my first exam this day. These 6 year olds have no concept of “no cheating”. Mean girls style, the kids have gone wild—kids standing on desks, passing papers back and forth, etc. The bell rings. Welcome weekend. I leave feeling defeated to say the least. High Point: same aforementioned parent stops me in the middle of the class to yell that I am pretty and have beautiful eyes. She also keeps raising her hand to answer questions that I am asking my actual students. So what if I gave her a star on her hand for answering correctly? Lesson Learned: Behavior Management is my number one priority for week two

Meet Tommy

Day 6

I am terrified after Friday’s disaster of a class. I decide I am not just a bad teacher, but also the worst teacher of all time (classic Hannah). Guess what though? New behavior management system is put in place, including a policy for test taking! In order to demonstrate what happens when someone cheats or talks, I rip a student’s test into many little pieces and dramatically toss it to the floor. I also quickly apologize to the kid, as he looks up at me horrified (someone had to be sacrificed). I hand him another test immediately. Guess what? Diamond gets her test ripped up for cheating. High note and low note: after grading the test, there is a mystery student with no English name that has scored a 100. Guess who? Aforementioned helicopter parent that insisted on taking the test.  Adorably cute note and sad note:  June cries the entire class period, because she does not understand what is going on. Third Low note:  5 people tell me the star meter that measures class success on the wall looks like a penis. Lesson learned: Be careful when drawing star meters.

Meet Crying June

Day 7

辣肚子(la duzi) hits. Direct translation=spicy belly. No explanation necessary. My co-teacher teaches students

Day 8

Rock star status is turned back on. I create TPR for the different fruit that I am teaching, which leads to my students successfully saying “peaches” while doing “Little Miss Sunshine” dance moves (the one where she is clasping her hands above her head).  Western Wednesday is introduced. Students violently dance to “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. High Point:  peaches dance move…duh. Lesson learned:  Students will do any TPR that you tell them to do. This sparks an official contest among fellows of who can get their kids to do the most hilarious TPR. Stay tuned for the results.

Day 9

First official embarrassing teacher moment. I decide to incorporate an English-speaking rabbit stuffed animal into the classroom that my co-teacher has previously used. Am I confident with my rabbit voice that sounds like towelie from South Park?  Hell No. Result: I am met with dead silence from my students as I humiliate myself for 40 minutes. High note: being able to make fun of myself for the rest of the day Lesson learned:  Never use the towelie voice again. Be wary of bringing English-speaking animals into the classroom.

Day 10

Best day yet. I also realize that many of the students that I think ignore my instructions to stand are actually standing; they are simply too short to see over the desk. This also explains why Diamond, along with others, stand on their desk to see. High Point: Diamond’s mother suggests that we take Diamond for the weekend. As much as this idea excites me, it is equally horrifying. A compromise is made: home visit to Diamond’s house is scheduled for Sunday. Score! (More info to come on this) Lesson learned: Maybe, just maybe, I can get the hang of this teaching stuff.

***To end on a positive note, this is what I have been waking up to every morning***

Beautiful Lincang, Yunnan

4 thoughts on “2 weeks of teacher training down. One to go.

    Mom said:
    August 5, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Priceless! I felt like I was there with you and the little munchkins. Made me so happy and proud
    Luv ya much, Mom

    Andrew Yellis said:
    August 5, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I love it.

    Karin McInerney said:
    August 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

    That was absolutely fabulous to read…. I had a smile on my face the entire time!!
    The descriptions of both your class room experiences and the tiny tots are great! And Diamond!! Well, Diamond is a little gem (no pun intended)! Keep the stories comming….
    PS: Lincang is GORGEOUS!

    Olivia said:
    August 9, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Can’t wait to read more – blaaahhhhh I want to visit you! By the time I get there, you’ll have your kids sitting and clapping on command, I’m sure. Best writer ever, such a pleasure to read!

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