Spring Concert

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Aug 31, 2012

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Flag of China  , Shanghai Shi,
Friday, April 27, 2012

After two long weeks of wrangling fabric all over my apartment and to school, I finally completed the costumes for the kids. The best part is that I don't really know how to sew or have any idea how to create costumes. Last concert, Ms. Xu, my Chinese teacher, had made the star costumes for "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" so I had no idea how long it would take to even make even the simplest idea. Weeks before we had even thought about the costumes but we were drilling the songs into our student's heads, we were being asked what fabric we want for costumes. If it weren't for my Chinese teacher, Ms. Duan, I would have been completely lost. Well like always, I waited until the last minute to get things done. I finished the last 4 pairs of pants for my costume the night before the concert.
The English songs that we sang were "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" in which they would dress up like Mickey and Minny Mouse with big hands to do the dance associated with that song. The idea of my students doing it was entertaining but when I actually saw them singing in full costume, I was so proud at how they looked. Even if the costumes were hot glued, stapled and badly sewn. The other English song that we sang was "Ten Little Indians" and Andrea had found an awesome recording of it that was super fun to dance to. I learned to have fun with it and always have "bribery" materials readily available. You know like chocolate, fruit, stickers, or anything that I could use to have them sing the songs. I absolutely hated doing that to get them to sing but it's a big deal to do well in this concert because it is believed that if they can sing well in English, then they know it.

Ok let's be real...a student doesn't truly know how to speak English if they can sing. Even the parents at our school just want their kids to be able to contribute to conversations  and do well socially than they want their kids to be the next American Idol superstar.

I am so glad to have done it but the weeks preparing were very forced. I felt bad  for the kids that there was such a huge pressure for them to sing perfectly while dancing. I was just happy if my kids didn't cry  or run away. My expectations were a little bit low from last concert where most of the kids just cried and refused to wear the costume. For several weeks before the concert we had rehearsals  on Wednesday. Those were days that I dreaded to go to school because I knew the kids would have a rough day from having to wait so long to rehearse.  Lessons were practically thrown out the window too so I felt bad because I wanted to tell parents about what their child did at school and it was just rehearsing. I hope that if I ever have to prepare my students for a concert like this in the future that the pressure of perfection is not associated with the performance. I guess that's one thing I now know and can determine that I want different in my class someday. The important part is the kids having fun and creating a wonderful memory for them and not to please parents or force them to perform when they don't want to do it.

Ok...sorry so my rant is over but that's how I felt about it. Tomorrow Andrea and I are going to Sanya, Hainan for four days to get away after the concert. It is the Hawaii of China! We are glad that our students did well but after this we have parent teacher conferences and then scrapbooks for all of our students due on my birthday, June 29 (Which is graduation). So we are planning a trip to Beijing next and in the meantime we will reward our small victories with weekend trips to make sure with all of the deadlines that we stay sane on top of it all.

Well the dress rehearsal was fun but very rushed. At the beginning of the day the students had breakfast and then we had to get all of them into their jeans and Morgan Rothschild shirts with bows on their hands in 20 minutes before we started. The best part is that there were 3 of us trying to change 13 kids. I felt like I was wrestling with kids and I was trying my best to stay positive and fun so that the kids wouldn't stress out before it even began.  My class waited in the downstairs extra classroom next to Andrea. This was so much nicer than rehearsals before. We would all cram into Jacob's classroom. The whole school! It was crazy. So this was much more relaxed. The kids could play and all be in one area while we frantically changed them into their costumes. I took them outside to sing their song and gingerly walked them up the steps while singing "Hurry hurry drive your _____" and they choose what we drive like a car, dolphin, airplane, Lucas, or even trees. It's so funny I don't correct them because at least their talking! I assist Ms. Duan with trying to get them to stand in a line, Getting 2 and 3 year olds to sing on stage while trying to slip off the stage to have them stand there is pretty similar to herding cats.  Some students stood there with a blank look on their face, some jumped up and down, a few sang and danced but at this point...no one cried.  When we were done, I had chocolate inside ready to give them so they would get through the rest. The next song was Ten Little Indians and it was only 2 songs away so really had to hurry. I made Indian vests for the kids with a headband that had a laminated paper feather on it (this costume was such a favorite that Zhang Ting-actress and mother to Jialin posted it on her Weibo account-like Twitter for Chinese!).  This was hilarious because rather than dancing like they were supposed to most of them just jumped up and down while singing. They loved the song and that's all that mattered. At the end, kids were denied marshmallows because they didn't sing. Well I gave every one of them some chocolate no matter what. I watched the video Andrea took later of them jumping up and down and it still cracks me up. Their little Indian feathers are just bobbing up and down!

The last song was "Head, shoulders, knees, and toes" and I had put a lot of time into this costume. I made large hands out of paper and laminated them. Andrea and Wynneth found Mickey Mouse hats upstairs from the Hong Kong Disneyland that someone paid $55 for each one and never used so I was excited that I didn't have to make ears. For the girls I had Minny Mouse skirts with polka dots and the boys had Mickey Mouse shorts. Each child had bowties that I found. So there were quite a few things to put on to have them ready. I was more or less excited to have my students do the motions with the huge hands. I thought it would be hilarious.

At the end of the concert we had finale songs to dance to. For the English song it was "The Twist" so I was having a blast twisting and dancing. I think the kids thought it was supposed to be choregraphed because some of them looked unsure until I would say  "come on Valentina" or whomever and then they started to dance. Little Julian was in the back stepping with his right foot and it looked like he was trying to kickstart a bike...so funny. At least this portion could be fun. The Chinese song though was choreographed by Ms. Li and it was fun but  they had never learned the motions until this rehearsal..the day before the concert so it was cute but looked kind of stupid since the only one really dancing was Ms. Li and a few of the students who were really trying hard to dance with her.

The day of the concert finally arrived and I was so excited to go to school to get it over with but more or less excited to be dressed up and see my kids in their costumes again. I wore the dress that I got from Hongmei. After losing 30 lbs. I was able to finally buy some Chinese clothes and fit into them. The clothes that are made for Chinese girls are very straight and slim. I got so many compliments as well as the other English teachers that we were beautiful or peyow liang(spelled wrong but it's the word for beautiful in Mandarin).

The first song was our Chinese one and we were the second ones to go on so I waited with the kids outside. Little did I know that we would be waiting there for 20 minutes trying to get them to sit. Another one of those moments in which I wasn't really told what was going on and I was frustrated that no one was telling me what to do. If we went inside then we would have to line up again but the kids were getting restless. On stage they did wonderful but I scooted to the middle of the stage to sing in Chinese and do the motions while crouched down so that the kids who were dazing off would maybe do the motions. NO one cried..that is huge! Valentina and Myles were singing in Chinese (my Swiss Germans) while the rest of the kids sang a little bit.

As soon as we got inside...the waterworks began. They saw their parents and now we were back inside away from them. We were two songs away to the "Ten Little Indians" song so we had to hurry to get them ready while trying to calm down the screaming kids. One crying led the other ones who were fine to cry. It was a cacaphony of crying. So my song went okay but a majority of them were sad. Nathan loved it because he was jumping up and down and Yangyang sang very well and did the motions. Ugh..it was over and I kept telling the kids one more song and you can see your mama and baba and go home.

Intermission finally came and a majority of the parents came it to eat with their kids and relax. It was nice because there was a long time from intermission to our next song but we decided to get the kids changed anyways. Now I had parents there to help. My students did well on stage and this time if they were sad, they weren't crying on stage. Lucas and Jialin were upset so they stayed off but the one who cries all the time, Rowan, was happy! So ironic.  After the song, parents came in to get their children's clothes changed and to go home. I didn't even care if they stayed to do the finale. The only ones that did out of my class was Nathan, Jialin, and Julian who danced with me.

Concert number 2 is over and now I don't have to make any more costumes. Thank goodness. I'm ready for our 3 hour flight to Sanya and spend some relaxing time reading on the beach and exploring the island with Andrea.

Tonight I have to get some Child Observation Reports done and my newsletter. After that..it's cleaning my room and packing for our trip!

I am ready to forget about all of my obligations and to deal with them when I get back..as well as get super serious with the job hunt for next year.

More to come..check back in about a week for pictures of paradise from Sanya.
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