The Daily Grind

Zhengzhou Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 8 › view all entries

I have been teaching for roughly two weeks now. I love it, it’s always fun and interesting and my students are great. I am now settling into my normal schedule and things are running smoothly.

Last weekend I went to visit one of our branch schools in a neighboring town about three hours away. That was an interesting trip. There was not much to the town and it was very dusty and extremely cold. I was cold all weekend and couldn’t get rid of the chill I had. The apartment I stayed in didn’t even have heat the first night. As such I am now sick AGAIN! Mike told me he has been there twice already and everytime he gets sick. So I guess it’s just par for the course.

Teaching while I was there was interesting. It was a pretty large school with typical North American size classes (20 to 30). I did not do as well as I hoped I would, but being my third and fourth day of teaching ever, i guess I was pretty good. I was never nervous which really surprised me, I figured I would be. But with some of the classes I was just completely lost. I have never taught kids before and I don’t know the curriculum, so do they learn animals first? Colours? Numbers? are they even following a popular curriculum? These are the questions that were racing through my mind. Plus I never had prep time for any of the classes so I was just flying blind. Luckily Maxine was there to help me.

The schedule was hectic. I spent 20 minutes in every class and went to a new class after that for another 20 minutes. This was all day Saturday and Sunday in the morning. Every class was at a different level as well. Some it was their very first day of English class others had been learning for two years and the rest were somewhere in between. It was probably one of the most mentally taxing things I have ever done. Saturday I felt like crap, I was very disappointed in myself. It seemed Maxine was very disappointed in me as well. I was exhausted and cold. It was not a good day at all. Maxine said I could head back to the appartment if I needed to, but that would be the same as admitting defeat and I was not about to let that happen. I think she may have been testing me with that as well, but maybe not.

Sunday was much better. I had a better idea of what was going on and I think I did a really good job. My second last class made all the difference in the world to me though. The students were great, we played a game that Maxine taught me and had a blast just learning. They didn’t want me to leave when my time was done either. Their teacher Apple told me after my last class I had to go back to their classroom because the students wanted to see me again. That was an amazing experience. I walked back into the classroom and all the students rushed me with their books in hand. They wanted me to sign their books for them, the students wanted my autograph. It was incredible, they were all cheering and carrying on. Many of them were shouting “I love you, I love you”. One boy even managed to kiss my cheek which was pretty disconcerting. But this goes back to the Chinese sense of personal space hinted at in my previous post. Very different from North America. The other teachers even yelped “Oh my god” when he did it because they were so surprised too. It was funny. I had my picture taken with a bunch of them and then it was time to head back home to Zheng Zhou, my apartment and my nice warm bed.

That class single handedly restored my confidence, reinforced in me why I was here and what a blessing the ability to teach truly is. I will never forget that class for as long as I live.

That’s it for this entry. Stay tuned for more.

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photo by: alexchan