Spiders & Lord Voldemort-- 1st Day of Class

Trip Start Aug 13, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Monday, September 6, 2010

Here's the blog you've all been waiting for-- the one I've been waiting to write as well!

Today was my first day teaching! I taught two "special" or "advanced" classes-- both "junior two" classes with about 35 students in each class that meets twice a week. The "normal" classes have 70 students and I meet them only once a week. So for today, I had planned on introducing myself and having students fill out a name card with some information about themselves on the card. I had planned to have about 10-15 students introduce themselves to the class by saying what they had written. Then, I was going to move on and talk about rules/expectations and then divide them into different groups that would compete with each other for a grand prize at the end of the semester. (Like the House competitions in Harry Potter). Basically, for both classes, I only got through about half of what I had planned.
    I had to repeat myself a lot more than I expected. Several times during the lessons, I said "Raise your right hand if you understand me," and no one would raise their hand. A couple people would-- and then, I'd repeat myself and sometimes do the action, and then others would follow. The students were also a lot more talkative than I had anticipated! There was a group of boys in my first class that would not stop talking. Next time, I will split them up. For my first class, I had to raise my voice a lot more than I expected to, with phrases like, "Hey!" and "Hey guys!" and "Are you listening?" I tried a few times to look at them sternly but I think I need to work on my "stern" face. I think that there were a few students who really understood and then some who had the other students explain stuff to them. For the most part, I think today was a day for assessment-- just see what the kids know. In my first class, after I introduced myself and said I was from the U.S., one kid said, "But you're yellow," which kind of made me laugh. I explained about my family and the kids seemed pretty interested in that.
    Overall, I think the kids in the second class were a lot more interested and a lot more calm. I found that they understood things a lot better when I wrote it on the board. They asked me a lot of questions. One boy asked me if I had a husband, which caused some knowing chuckles and nudges across the classroom. I said I had a boyfriend and then the boy asked me where my boyfriend was, which made everyone laugh, including me. I told them that my boyfriend was in America and that he was from Boston. As with a lot of stuff I said, this classed "oohhed" when I told them that. Eventually, we moved on to introductions for the students. I think I was a lot more clear the second time explaining-- I actually made a name card for myself and repeated several times what to do.
    Some unexpected, somewhat unpleasant surprises: SPIDERS. While I was introducing myself, I noticed the girls by the window inching away and saw a HUGE spider crawling around the window. My first thought was to go get Derek,who was next door, so that he could come in and kill it. Then, I thought that maybe one of the kids would-- but no one made any moves. Inside, I was freaking out a little bit, thinking that the kids are not going to respect an authority figure who is afraid of spiders. As I was thinking about what to do with that spider, the kids spotted another one at the front of the class. I had no idea what to do. I couldn't really calm down the kids because I was so panicky myself. I wanted someone to kill the spiders so I could have peace of mind but I didn't want to make one of my students do it-- and I certainly wasn't going to! I decided to just leave the spiders alone-- I told my students to ignore them and we continued.
    By the way, all the students have English names-- some of which are not your typical names-- like Cherry and Sky. The best name that I came across today though was "Lord Voldemort," which made me laugh quite a bit. I asked him if that was really his name and he said yes.. so I guess I've got Lord Voldemort in my class.
    So in sum: I had fun. It certainly wasn't perfect-- not even close-- but it wasn't a disaster. I think that despite all of their talking, the kids were interested, though I guess that's hard to determine. There were a lot of nice kids. I definitely need to work on my discipline voice but I might just have to accept that the class is not going to pay attention to me 100% of the time and that there will always be someone talking. I think it's actually quite effective to say "If you understand me, put your right hand up," because it gets the kids to quiet down for about 34 seconds so they can understand what I'm saying-- but then of course, they start talking again.
    I was worried that I wouldn't have enough material-- but surprisingly, I ran out of time. I hope my students enjoyed my class. I think that I will get a lot better with each class-- I will have 9 different classes altogether-- although I will see 6 of the classes twice a week. I feel more prepared for my classes tomorrow-- two more advanced classes. I will basically do the same thing with them. Hopefully they will be good kids..
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Ian on

I told you so! :)

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