when I see your face there’s not a thing that I would change

9 Jun

I thought I’d post some more photos of my students, a.) because I love their little faces, and b.) because I’m feeling too lazy to actually compose a post right now.

One of the games that I pull out when I have 10 extra minutes at the end of class is a version of blind man’s bluff. In all of my classes, we’ve done role plays focusing on giving directions (turn right, turn left, go straight, etc), so for this game I put a piece of candy or a sticker in a plastic Easter egg. Then one student wears my travel sleep mask and the rest of the class first chooses a spot to put the egg and then directs the blindfolded student to the egg, using English only.

Hilarity occurs when Vivian accidentally gropes her classmate’s head while searching for the egg.

Trying (in English) to keep a friend from wandering blindly out the open classroom door generates the kind of urgency that gets you on your feet.

You can see the purple egg in the background, balanced on the neck of a Coke bottle. They don’t make it easy on each other!

Now let’s move away from the blindfold game.

This is Peter. He’s the class monitor in one of my Junior 2 classes. I’ve never taken the time to explain this, but high school here in China is divided into Junior High and Senior High. There are three years of each. The Junior students are basically 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, and the Senior students are 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. So Junior 2 means 8th grade, and that is my favorite age in the high school.

I feel mean saying that, so I want to qualify that of course it has nothing to do with liking the kids personally more or less than any other students. The Junior 1’s are very enthusiastic, but they can’t always control themselves. Teaching them feels like playing a really long and tiring game of whack-a-mole (I hope it goes without saying–not because I’m hitting them, but because no matter what direction I’m looking, there’s something crazy going on out of the corner of my eye, and I’m never one step ahead). I don’t teach the Junior 3’s, because they’re a graduating class and so they have extra exams this semester. When it comes to the Senior students, even my best classes are somewhat disengaged, and my worst classes are disengaged and uncooperative.

I find the Junior 2 students to be the perfect balance. They’re young enough to still be enthusiastic. They’re engaged and cooperative and they haven’t hit the full-on teenage apathy stage yet, but they’re a little calmer than the Junior 1’s and they have more self-control.

Anyway, Peter’s class has never given a moment of trouble until 2 Wednesdays ago when one of the students lit a cigarette and tried to smoke it in the middle of class. He turned green and started coughing violently–it was pretty funny–and when I was done being stern at him, Peter grabbed him, pinned both wrists in one hand, and literally dragged him out of the classroom and to their class teacher’s office.

He’s a super helpful kid. It’s the class monitor’s job to do this kind of stuff–you know, I’m not allowed to give out punishments myself. And when this kind of thing happens and it really needs to be reported to someone who is authorized to handle the situation, I’m often helpless. I teach 14 classes a week, and for most of those, I don’t know who their class teacher is. There are 15 minutes between classes, and I move from room to room during the day. Often, by the time I get to a classroom the class teacher is already 10 minutes gone. Even if I knew who the class teacher was, I don’t know where anyone’s office is, most of the teachers outside of the English department speak very little English, and I don’t know the students’ Chinese names (and for some of them, I don’t know their English names, either).

Anyway, if you look over Peter’s shoulder on your left, off in the distance you can see the neighborhood of apartments where I live. My building is a few streets behind the ones you can see, but it’s in that general area. And if you look behind Peter to your right, you can see two men with sledgehammers tearing down a building. They have been working on this all semester. It’s interesting to me because tearing down a whole building by sledgehammer is really slow going, and in America I feel like you never see people whose entire job is to swing a sledgehammer 8 hours a day. It takes weeks! It wouldn’t make financial sense to pay a person to do that; it’s cheaper to rent equipment. But here in China, they’ve been working on this building forever.

Now here are the boys in my Monday night tutoring group:

That’s Tommy in pink, Bob in neon yellow, Jack and Morgan in orange.

And we’ll end with one bored face and one smiling one.

Peace. 🙂

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One Response to “when I see your face there’s not a thing that I would change”

  1. Kathy June 9, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    I love this blog..tell us more and take us up closer the men takin down the rubble!

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