Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Weekly update

                  A week into the job and I’ve already been faced with a few interesting situations. For starters, unlike the previous classes, some of my new students are consistent troublemakers. Over the past week I have been trying to think of creative ways to punish the students such as making them doing jumping jacks all class period, but nothing will top how ridiculous the Chinese teachers are with their mind games. In one of my classes one of the kids would not shut up and one of the teachers approached him with a roll of duct tape. She gave him a terrifying mean mug and started to rip off some tape. The kid was scared out of his mind and was screaming “Bu Yao”(I Don’t want) repeatedly. In another incident a teacher threatened the kids with a hot glue gun, which shocked me as much as the kids. In times like that I find myself struggling not to smile or laugh because these teachers are so crazy.
                 Like a bad movie, I am a bit scared of the voice that one of my students has. In one of my third grade classes, I have a boy named Mickey who has this screechy voice that creeps me out and sort of sounds like Hannibal Lector when he says “Hello Clarice” In the Silence of the Lambs. Mickey loves to talk and consistently will be calling my name through out class, which I intentionally ignore. The worst part is when I enter the classroom and he repeatedly says “Good morning John”, it is like a voice in bad dream that just wont go away and creeps me out of the whole class period.
                Speaking of bad dreams, on Friday afternoon, I was trying to take a nap during my break in the office when one of the Teachers Assistants named Hannah; Short for Hannah Montana (Yes, Seriously) tried to make a move on me. As I peacefully rested my eyes, I was abruptly woken up to her tongue in my mouth, slithering around like a snake. Half a sleep I yelled and ran out the room. Moments later as I woke myself up; I went back into the room to figure out what just happened. Having spoken minimal words to her over the course of the week it turns out that she likes me and wants to be my girlfriend and that was the way she thought to tell me that. After I kindly denied her request. She started to make outrageous crying/screaming noises like an ape. This was not quite the picture that I had in store for my first encounter with a Chinese girl, but I guess you have to start somewhere.
            With that being said, As Thanksgiving rolls around the corner, I have gotten a bit sad that I wont be able to have it with my family and close friends. To make matters worse, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here obviously so rather than going into a food coma all day, I have to work. To treat  myself and make it feel somewhat like home, a few of my cohort members will be going to Bubba’s Texas Saloon http://www.bubbasasia.com/ to have a thanksgiving feast after work.
            Although I cant be with any of my close friends from home for thanksgiving, I am very excited for my best friend Scott come to visit me in less than a month for Christmas. He will be here from the 16-29th of December, which is 2 weeks. During that time he will have to explore on his own while I am at work but after work I will  get to meet up with him. I have taken a couple days off to go to Beijing for Christmas and see the Great Wall with him, which should be a fun and memorable trip.
         In more exciting news, my friend Jenny from Iowa, who I worked with in Camp Adventure when I was in Japan, is going to come and visit me at the end of December!  She is visiting her Grandparents but is going to make a pit stop to come see me. With one wild week out of the way, I am ready to see what is store for me this week.

First day at new School

  Today was the first day at my new School QSCH. I am a bit sad that I have new students, but I do I enjoy the company and companionship that QSCH has to offer. This school offers another staff member from Shane English, which is very nice because previously, I worked alone and felt like a loner since most of the teachers cannot hold a conversation in English. Since Ann, an Australian is on leave for the week to attend a wedding, my good friend Andy has filled in for her. The school also provides the teachers with a Teachers Assistant to help regulate during class and escort you from class to class. My TA is named Lulu; she speaks decent English and seems to be very shy but from what I’ve seen is very nice. Unlike my other schools, the teachers are very young and some of them are actually pretty cute, many looking like they are in their 20's.
        The classes I am teaching are now 45 minutes rather than 30, which will take some adjusting to. The students I teach are in grades 2 and 3. I have found thus far that I enjoy the younger kids (Preschool/ Grade 1) more because ironically enough, they are better behaved. These older kids are full of energy and are much larger and capable of creating more trouble and are not nearly as cute nor innocent. Since their personalities are starting to come out, some of them like to cause trouble.
      During my classes, I spent the whole time getting to know the kids and trying to get a feel for what they are like. I introduced myself and asked them their ages and names, while also reviewing some old information that they should have learned. I feel that my classes went well but in a couple of them the kids were bad and I had to regulate. At first I was picking out kids individually and making them switch spots so that they would not be distracted but that didn't seem to work so I proceeded to make them stand in the corner. One by one students were being bad and thus I removed them from the circle in which I was teaching to.  The Chinese teachers were not having any of it and were slapping their wrist and yelling at them but found humor in the situation after they dealt with about a quarter of the class.  After awhile it eventually turned into a game to see how many kids would get in trouble. Overall I have found that today was a good day. While I know it will take some adjustments, I think I will like it here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Slowly dying inside

          Breaking news from Shanghai. After only having my "Superbike" for less than 2 months, I am sad to say that it was stolen from the metro station.Just like any other day, I rode my bike to the metro and locked it up, only this time it wasn't there when I got off the metro. It is a bitter sweet event because now I am free of the P.O.S bike that had a broken pedal and seat, but it now means I have to buy a new one. Out of all the bikes on the bike rack it seems a bit odd that mine would have gotten stolen.

To create better air quality for the EXPO, China limited the number of factories that were in operation each day to reduce the toxic pollution and smog within Shanghai. They also fired missiles up in the air to help eliminate the smog and stabilize the weather. This tactic was similar to the one used for the Beijing Olympics to help improve the air while millions of guest visit the city for the event.Now that the Expo has ended, China has removed the ban off, which started November 1. The side effects have already shown. The city has much more smoggy and at times you cannot see buildings within the distance. Like the heavy Oregon fog, there is a hazy overcast created by the smog that shadows the city.

The weather has also been very odd of late. This past week it was so cold that I had to bust out my Winter snowboarding coat,facing the devastating cold front from the North, it has made its way down to Shanghai. Though the temperature has been in the 50's which is almost t-shirt and shorts weather in Oregon, there is a lot more water in the air, which makes it feel colder than it actually is.

In a unfortunate chain of events, I found on this past Thursday that I would be switching  schools with a fellow coworker at work. I am a bit sad because I really enjoyed the kids that I taught and after struggling for the past two months to get the approval  and friendship of the Chinese teachers, they have finally opened up to me. I feel this change is a bit ironic because on Monday during the teachers meeting, the teachers were talking with me and asking how long I would be teaching in Shanghai. When I told them that I would be here until next September, they were very excited and relieved. Less than three days later, I am now leaving.Although I really did not have a choice in the decision, I feel that I have let teachers and students both down.  On Friday, my last day with the kids, I had to break the news to the teachers that it was my last day.While most of the teachers were very sad, one of them actually was fighting to hold back tears. Rather than teaching for most of the class, I decided that I would sing songs and play games with the kids. I wanted to make things fun and memorable so  I handed out stickers and candy.

Here are all of my students that I teach every day

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Halloween!

          This week has gone by very fast. In my classes I have been teaching my kids Halloween phrases and passing out Halloween candy and they love it. Halloween like many other places around the world is just starting to become a trend in China with the younger generations but has been a big hit. The teachers  in the school have been working hard to create by hand, Halloween decorations, which is ironic because in the States, we purchase decorations at the store and where do these goods come from? That's right ,China. So it seems kind of odd that they wouldn't just buy it also.

      The search for a Halloween costume has been a nightmare. Unlike the states, there are no temporary Halloween consume stores like Spirit that have a wide assortment of costumes to choose from. Rather it is just a select few costumes in certain areas. I have spent hours trying to find the perfect get up for Halloween. I've realized that a lot of people end up making their own outfits piecing together an assortment of items, but I had found that it is too much work. I originally though about having one custom made but since I cant speak Chinese that idea went out the window. Without further ado, I present you the masterpiece that I found online and then physically went to the booth in this huge shopping center size market to find.  For a whopping 138 RMB (roughly $20) I found this beauty of a Tiger/Lion = Liger  one piece Suit. I was so excited that it fit that I didn't even try to barter.
        Once again I realize how much I hate teaching. For one of the schools I teach at, they were having an observation class in which all the parents would come and sit in while I taught. Supposedly this was a huge deal and I had to make a lesson plan, with the help of my boss ahead of time and send it to the  school's administration to review it. Upon arrival, and wearing my costume, the parents and kids, who were all dressed up in costumes were excited for my class. I had a set schedule that I would be passing out awards for the best costumes and then teach them a few phrases and then teach them a song and lastly pass out candy, which sounds so easy on paper, but in reality it was far from it. The teachers decided to move the class into an auditorium and then decided to pick apart lesson at the last minute and change virtually everything. Once again, working on the fly I was suppose to teach in front of all these parents. With the kids riled up, they were a nightmare to teach, not only did they not listen to what I had to say, they were all over the place running around the room as the parents admired how much of a doll their kids were. Having no classroom management I continued on with the lesson trying to do the best as possible. With the teachers in the back trying to tell me what to do, they insisted on blasting the Halloween song before I even taught it to the kids. Life would have been so much easier without them there to continuously mess things up. After that nightmare of a class, I'm sure I have tainted the prospective of many of the parents as far as my teaching abilities ago.
        Later that night, we had a Halloween party at my house,which was filled with cohort members, coworkers and a few others. It was a great time and nice to get a way from work and all the things associated with it.  There was a good showing of people  and the place was packed. All in all it was a memorable night.
         On Sunday, I had to work  at my other school since they changed the date of the party. I was feeling horrible the whole day which made working even that much worse. I was the announcer for the school performance, in which the kids danced, sang and played games in front of the parents. Afterwards the classes split up and went into their homerooms to have dinner. With some standard dishes provided by the school, each classroom was  different based on what the parents brought. Being the wonderful teacher I am, rather than stay put in one room, I went through all 4 classes to visit and of course in each class they insisted I take a plate and eat, which I politely accepted. I was able to speak with a few of the students parents, one of which I had a long conversation with. His name was Ray and his daughter was in 1st grade class. he was very kind and welcoming and was asking all sorts of questions, I reckon we spoke for 20 or so minutes but he worked in the aerospace industry and kept insisting that I meet some of his friends with the potential of hooking onto one of their companies, which was sorta exciting.

Here are some pictures I took of the events