Saturday, November 10, 2012

More than I Can Chew

Determined to not let finances deter me from my annual Stateside pilgrimages, I had to take a good look at my earnings. I’ve said this before: not too shabby for life over here, but definitely not in the Rockefeller category once I leave China. If I hope to continue seeing my loved ones during that annual opportunity afforded me by the University, I’d better get on with some more earning.

I’d always had this idea about teaching a total immersion type curriculum, where nothing but English is spoken. Of course, the students would have to either have a good grasp of English to begin with, or be young enough to adapt to communicating with gestures and pointing. It was a challenge I was eager to take on.

Gary to the rescue!

He was instrumental in getting my New School off the ground. With the help of Dragon and his wife Lia, who are providing me with the classroom and the students I now teach a class of 6 Little Ones two days a week. In addition to that I have Dragon and Lia’s 11year old daughter to tutor twice a week. We have tried adding an adult curriculum but adults are too fickle. They have busy schedules or, as in most cases they don’t really want to learn English, they just want to know what I call Tourist English: how to travel, how to shop, what to eat in a restaurant, ect. 

This is an exciting time for me. Brand new students, open to new learning experiences. It is like a blank canvas, just waiting for me to splash paint on. Three weeks into it, this gig is looking pretty sweet.

The downside to that is that all of my mental energy and most of my time are consumed by thoughts of teaching. The creative bursts feel great and I love transforming my visions into actual documents that my students will learn from. But on the other hand… I’ve not written anything for you in… about 3 weeks. Round about the time I started this gig.

And the frustration goes farther. I have no time to grocery shop or to hang out with friends. No time for emails. If I make the time, my thoughts are plagued by what I’m going to do in any or all of my classes. This is a vicious cycle that has got to end.

Last Tuesday I hit upon a solution. On Tuesday, you’ll recall I get up early to teach both of my sophomore classes at the University. I have dedicated that afternoon and evening to curriculum creation and class preparation. The rest of the week I don’t think about school or teaching at all. If I do have a random idea for teaching pop up during the rest of the week I make a note of it and move on.

Organization is a big factor, too. Till now, with only freshmen and sophomores to teach it was easy to maintain 2 notebooks with vaguely composed lesson plans. Besides, being on my third year of teaching here I can pretty much recycle any given lesson of previous years.

Now that I’m teaching a wider grade range, with more diverse materials and going off-campus for half of my teaching endeavors I constantly find myself scrambling around to find whatever it is that I need for any given session.

I bought a magazine rack. It has 4 slots: one for freshmen, one for sophomores, one for Little Ones and a last slot for the adults, should we ever get that class off the ground. Whatever class I’m teaching that day, simply grab all the prepared materials from the slot and head out the door.

So now I’ve got my tizzy under control. Create the material on schedule, store everything in its proper slot.

So now, back to you.        

No comments:

Post a Comment