14 Mar

Since my last post, I haven’t done much besides work and sleep and cough and sniffle. I gave myself the weekend off—every moment of free time I have is spent feeling like I should be doing something exciting to take advantage of my time in China. This past weekend, I made a pact with myself that I would put that feeling aside and focus on recovering from the cold. It seems to have worked; I feel much better.

Teaching is either fabulous or tolerable, depending on when you ask me. I’ve never had a job that was so up and down before…walking out of a room after a good class is a great feeling. But when a class period is a struggle, I leave feeling defeated.

Take today, for example. I had high hopes for my first class, because I had so much fun with them last week and I thought I had finally figured out the recipe to get this particular group to participate. But today they were not interested in anything I had to say and the activity never really got off the ground. Then I walked into my next class and did the same activity with a group that has, in previous weeks, been too quiet, and they loved it. They told me it was “interesting and fun” (and I didn’t even solicit their opinions).

My last Monday class is my Junior 1 Class 1 kids…one of my largest and youngest classes. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this group, even when they’re terrible—and last week they were terrible. The previous week (two weeks ago) I played eighty-eight (hangman) with these kids as a filler in the last 8 minutes of class, and they LOVED it. At the time, I thought this was a good thing, but last week all they wanted to do was play eighty-eight again. I told them no, that I had other activities planned, and that if they cooperated we would play eighty-eight sometime soon. They were having none of it. They took rowdy and uncooperative to new heights…it was the worst single class period I’ve had so far this semester.

I told them last week that if they can’t behave, they can’t play games, so this week I braced myself for more chaos and I went into my third class today with a lecture on St. Patrick’s Day. It was about 25 minutes of me talking, and then they did a pretty quiet partner activity and shared results with the class. I expected them to hate it–they don’t cooperate with fun games, why would they cooperate with a boring lecture?

It went great. They were by far the quietest they’ve ever been for me, they understood and completed the partner activity, and most of them successfully reported their results to the class. I was thrilled.

So today I started out the day feeling really frustrated and resigned, and by the time I left I felt like a good teacher.

That fluctuation has been pretty representative of all of my workdays here in China so far. One minute I’m on top of the world, the next minute I remember why I ultimately want a job doing research (and teaching college kids, but I don’t think they’ll kick me in the shins as much).


2 Responses to “hangman”

  1. kjschnur March 15, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Teaching is exactly like this..some highs, some lows..when it gets boring you need to move on, doesn’t sound like you are there yet! Maybe at the end of the semester, you can plan something way fun ( travel ) with someone (me?)…haha you will have deserved it learning teaching by “the seat of your pants”! Real “hands on student teaching!

  2. Jessica March 16, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Yeah, that’s definitely something I love and hate about teaching. I often think that it would be great on the one hand to have lots of different classes so I could try out my lessons multiple times and just to get a break from certain personalities. On the other hand, you really get a feel for the group dynamics and individual kids when you are with them all day. There’s no one best way, I think; teaching is just tough no matter what – and thoroughly rewarding when it goes well. This is why I dream of teaching college students one day as well, though: far less classroom management and more actual teaching!

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