More Noisy Classes and New Friends

Trip Start Aug 13, 2010
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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today was probably one of the longest days of my life. I taught 6 classes today-- a mix of "normal" classes and "special" classes-- and of the special classes, some were the first class of the week, some were the second class of the week. So I basically had 3 different lessons plans that I used today, which got kind of confusing actually. Though the lessons plans weren't that different, I was afraid I would give the wrong lesson to the wrong class. And I'm a bit tired of the lessons that I've been giving-- there's only so many times that I can repeat the same instructions before I just get bored. Although, each class IS different-- so the number of times that I shout "listen!" does vary..
    So, some new things that happened today-- I did the ABC order name game again with three classes-- one class did fairly well. Another class got about half-- there was a lot of confusion where some kids thought the game was too hard and some thought it was fine. Then, there was one class that just didn't listen as I was explaining so I stopped the activity before they even got a chance to do it. I think my patience is sort of disappearing on these kids... I basically told these kids where to sit. I switched about half of the class, which I felt kind of bad about doing-- I mean, I switched the bad kids but I had to switch them with good kids. I didn't want to move the good kids to the back but I didn't want the bad ones to be in the back either. Tough choices. I told the kids that if they listened well, they could choose their own seats-- if they were bad, I would choose. I think this was a good tactic because they really want to sit by their friends.
    Unfortunately, this does not work with the big classes. I haven't even tried to rearrange seating with the big classes because they do have definite assigned seats where they sit for all of their classes. Maybe it would be good for them to move, but there are just so many of them! I had a really awful class today of many students. Class 118-- there were so many kids in the back that just did not listen, even after my "you have to listen" lecture. A lot of kids didn't even complete the name cards and I'm positive that most did not understand me. There were quite a few that seemed to be paying attention, but had a hard time understanding me. I'm not sure how to make this better for them, especially with such noisy kids in the back.
    So one new thing I did today-I did a listening activity similar to "Simon says"-- except without saying "Simon says" all the time. I basically instructed the kids to do things like, "raise your left hand," "touch your nose," "turn left" "close your eyes," "cover your mouth," etc. I don't know if they liked it or if they thought it was dumb. I pretty much just wanted them to stop talking and to see how well they could understand my instructions. I usually said "close your eyes" as one of the first ones and then hopefully they were forced to really listen to me instead of seeing what their neighbor was doing. I saw a bunch of kids peeking though. I want to try to do more activities where the kids close their eyes-- I think that that could really help them listen. Or force them to listen, without just copying what the other kids do. In theory, this seems like a good idea. I'm not sure how well it really works
    Another thing I did with some of the classes today was to ask them what they wanted to learn and do in the class this year. I wrote what they said on the board and then I gave chalk to some kids to write stuff on the board. This was kind of good and kind of a bad idea. It was good for the quiet kids who were too shy to say stuff out loud but bad for the loud kids who just took advantage of the time to talk and be loud and crazy. There was one kid who wrote "Watch adult films" on the board, which I erased immediately. Many people put down things that I would expect-- watch movies, play games, learn about music, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, etc. There was one kid who was really interested in a lot of things-- including politics, debate, anti-terrorism (!), war, etc.. I think he was the same kid whose favorite English word was "Bolshevik".. So, I'm not sure how much we'll be able to get into those things...
    It's hard to figure out how to keep everyone in the class interested-- I guess I'll never be able to reach everyone. I know that many of the quiet people are interested-- but I feel like I'm expending a lot of my energy on the loud kids. It's quite tiring.
    So Rodger just told us that sometime next week, English teachers would be observing our classes to see how we were doing. This does not please me. It makes me nervous to think that a teacher will be watching me teach. I really don't have any experience, don't know what I'm doing... not sure if what I'm doing is right. I feel okay in front of all the kids because they only half understand me- and many don't really take the class seriously. But, I don't want the Chinese English teachers to be judging me-- because I know they will be able to and will. Today, during my last class, I could see a teacher lurking outside of the classroom, probably wondering why the students were standing with their arms raised in the air. Before one of my other classes, an English teacher asked if she could observe my class. i told her I would be uncomfortable this week but that she could come next week. Yuck. That makes me so nervous.

    So I met another English teacher today-- Sarah. She taught Chinese in Florida for two years and has taught English at Yali for several years-- maybe 10-13? She was quite nice and we exchanged numbers. She said that if I needed any help, I could call her. She was kind of motherly-- protective, kind. I liked her.
    Later, for dinner, when I went to Apartment 501 for dinner with Hu Hu and his grandma, we were joined by his mother, a Chinese teacher, and her friend, Monica, a history teacher. I actually spent a great deal of time talking with Monica. She spoke fairly good English-- better than my Chinese, so she translated a lot of what I said. I partly wish she hadn't been there so that I could have been forced to use Mandarin but it was nice to meet her. She came to see my apartment and we talked a bit and exchanged phone numbers. We talked a bit about why the Chinese don't like the Japanese (In one of my classes, they asked if I had a boyfriend and when I said yes, they "oooohed" and asked if he was american. I said yes, that he was Japanese American and I think I may have seen some unpleasant faces when I said that ! Sorry Tai!) I actually had quite good conversation with Monica. She taught me some Chinese words and was really interested in becoming friends. She invited me to cook at her place this weekend. I feel so popular here. I wonder if everyone is really genuine about their invitations. Or if there is misunderstanding on my part... Anyway we spent a lot of time talking and finally we parted, saying we'd see each other this weekend. It's silly but I really can't keep track of all the Chinese teachers that I've met and exchanged numbers with. I want to befriend all of them but I guess I'm a bit shy about calling them up and inviting them to do something.

    one last piece of interesting info: Last night, at about 12:40, I received a call from Lin, the guy from the bar who sent me funny English texts and called me on his birthday asking me to come out. when I answered the phone though, it was a female voice that spoke English. She said she was Lin's friend and I said something like, "Im sleeping now," and she said she would call again or that Lin would call again. Weird eh? Maybe she wanted to practice English. Or maybe Lin is just so interested in me that he's hired a translator! 
    well I'm super tired.
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