Monday, April 2, 2012

Hit and Miss

My friends, I am super excited! I can’t wait to tell you all about this!! I can barely restrain myself!!!

So why don’t I just skip the hyperbole and tell you already?

Here goes.

Last year I was not a great teacher and I knew it. Even worse: my kids knew it. I have reported on several occasions throughout this blog that I am not the be-all and end-all of teaching. I was not being deprecative, only realistic. I give my students full credit for putting up with my mumblings and fumblings in the classroom. Furthermore, thanks to their good words in reporting me as a good teacher, I have been offered an unprecedented third year contract to teach at this school. Not even my venerated predecessor Byron had such tenure. Honestly, my students were eternally kind while I tried to hit my stride.

THAT’S the name of that entry I wrote back in November 2010, when everything was new and scary and I didn’t have the first clue of how to be a teacher. We should go back and review what I said then.

I alluded to the fact that I had no classroom resources, and I still don’t. Instead of that scaring me nowadays, it causes me to be more creative. The kids are thriving on role play and the other little learning activities I create. Every one of my classes are engaged and every student is participating, even the shy ones. I’m enjoying coming up with activities. It is totally a win-win situation. Here is some of the feedback I’m getting:

“This class is so much fun!”

“Wow! We really get a lot of chances to speak English in your class!”

Most endearing, and most heartening is when I greet my class: “Good Morning, My Students!”, they now chant back in unison “Good Morning, Teacher!” I’ve never had that, and most teachers on this campus don’t get that.

Moving on now…

In ‘Hit my Stride’ I asked that $64,000 question: do I belong in China? At that time, I really wasn’t sure. Now, in my second year and after a trip stateside last summer I am more convinced than ever that here is where I belong.

Shopping is now a breeze. I know the bus routes by heart and can find several different ways to Metro and the various Walmarts around town. Not only do I shop there but I also shop with confidence at the local retailers and farmer’s markets. The over-the-wall community and I have bonded in such a way that many residents defend me. Here is an exchange I heard while walking past an outdoor pool table a few days ago:

“Look! A foreigner!” (I smiled without breaking stride).

“You know she can understand you” says the second player.

I turned and flashed a broad grin, enjoying the first man’s embarrassment. But only a little. It is not nice to enjoy others’ discomfiture. What I really enjoyed was being defended. And I enjoy being greeted warmly every 5 meters by the residents of that community. I have gone from being called ‘waiguoren’ to being hailed as ‘Lao Shi’ – Teacher, a title of respect. No one is afraid to engage me in conversation and I respond heartily, in spite of my still limited language skills. The children still call me ‘waiguo ayi’, or ‘foreigner auntie’. They are all so cute I just want to bite every one of them. Not really, but you get the idea.

Sam and I enjoyed dinner at the restaurant over the wall. Talk about delicious food! Talk about an audience! All of the grannies and most of the little kids lined the windows to watch their foreigner eat with chopsticks. Being the focus of such attention is still a little weird, I have to admit. But I’m their foreigner. I can deal with it.

Last year’s entry should have been titled Hit or Miss. That’s how things stood back then. This entry should bear the title Hit My Stride.

I have totally got it going on!

Now I should get going…

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