Sunday, November 2, 2014

On Teaching

Between all nine classes (well, eight classes and one "life club"), I teach over one-hundred students every single week. This is not a number even remotely near the image I had in my mind of what, "teach in China" would require--trying to memorize names gives me an even greater amount of respect for my college profs (how do you remember so many faces?).  However, teaching so many students does allow for some very interesting life-moments:

1. Trying to pick up a Small Star student (4-5 years old), from behind and swing him around. When he kicks, screams, flails, and runs for the nearest exit, I realize, by gazing at the side of his frightened face, that he was not my student at all. Why do  small children all look so similar from behind? I think his mother hates me.

2. Saying, "hello Peter" and patting a Small Star on the head (from behind), only to have him turn around and say in perfect English, "I am not Peter. My name is Leo." Also, not my student. His mother might also hate me.

3. Walking into a classroom and asking students to pull out their books. When the appropriate teacher for this class walks in and gives me the, "what the fuck" look, I must admit that I do not recognize students in my own classes enough to distinguish them from another class. I leave with my head hung in shame, and go to the next room to try again.

I could go on forever, but surely you get the picture. Secretly, I weep at the end of the day. But in time, I'm sure it will get better! A little about my Small Stars:

I start my week off with my only Small Stars class, which has ten students that I teach twice a week in the evenings. These students are absolutely precious. They are not only adorable, but the level of interaction required is the one I perform best with (I think). Students must be highly engaged at all times in order to retain information. This means I have to use wild body language, make bizarre faces, and occasionally make fart noises throughout the class period (i.e. I get to be myself). If you were to walk in to my class during the middle of a lesson on animals, you would find me on the table and children climbing up my legs while I make monkey noises and fill my cheeks with air. This image is not far off from my everyday behavior, and the children spend 88% of their time in class laughing.

One of the greatest aspects of teaching this age group, is that they all want approval and attention (which translates to, "love me, please!"). Their desire for attention manifest in the following ways: Tiger loves to pinch. If you don't respond immediately to his every beckoning, he pinches you over and over and over. No, it doesn't feel gentle. When correcting his behavior, (telling him to share something like glue or scissors), he hangs his head due to the public shame he has just received in front of his classmates, and then continues pinching. However, after showing him how to share, and then asking him to do the same, I reward him by smothering him in manic hugs and kisses. His reaction to the lovin' is the very picture of delight. He just wants love, damn it! True fact, all ten of my Small Star students just want love. And me too. I'm so overwhelmingly happy when one of them walks up to my and kisses my arm, or takes my hand, or hugs me. How sweet, how pure is the affection of a child!

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