Archive for the ‘Teaching in Dalian’ Category

Shi Yan Middle School Exercise

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Filming what the middle school students do during their morning break (see if you can find the student that falls during the routine…and count how many times!).

ShiYan exercise


Friday, March 5th, 2010

There’s nothing like having the schools know its your birthday and canceling classes so you can relax.

Okay, so that wasn’t the case.  The school just got a new paint job and apparently the fumes are still very potent, so they had to take the rest of the week off.  Everybody wins.

The main reason for this post is to use this as a substitute for Facebook and thank all the people who took the time to post on my wall.  So in lieu of wall posting back to you, I want to thank Ali, Terry, Robbie, Glendalys, Mike G, Lizzie, Rachel C, Rachel (from Borders), Melanie, Jay, Leah, Cait, Staino, Jennings, Laura, Gretchen, Christy, TK, Zach J, Lauren, Kaitlin, Danny, J-Tizz, Marrisa, Aaron, Herbie, Kari, Petra, Grace, Elle, Heidi, Sean, Meghan, Monic, Carolyn, Nicole, Sabah, Alexis, Micah, Myra (say hi to your mom for me), Casey, Ben, my BSB, Ceril, Matt, Gracie, Hannah, T-Go, D-Steck, Kristin, Cheetah and Danielle.

Thanks again and I miss you all.

bday dinner (From L-R around the table: Rachel, Joy, Ben, Pat, Matt, Craig, Me, Maria...and Winston is the photographer)

eating noodles (or one really long one) = long life

Rachel surprised me with an authentic DQ ice cream cake

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

On Christmas Eve, I’ll be on an overnight train headed to Beijing, arriving Christmas morning and staying for two days.  Pretty cool, huh?  I’m very excited to see what China is like on Christmas Day, and I’ll make sure to let you know what it’s like too.

Before I go, I just want to say to all my friends and family, Merry Christmas!  Enjoy the holiday, play in the snow (I heard the East Coast has been getting inches and inches of it!), and keep my presents under the tree!  I’ll be back before you know it…

Happy Holidays

Xmas cards from my students

Xmas cards from my students

16 Sept 2009-David stays home, sick

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

So I missed school for the first time today.  I think the pressures of teaching 25 classes a week is finally taking a toll on my body.  I woke up this morning with a throbbing headache, a sore body, a slight cough, a little fever, and no energy.  I even struggled to grab my phone next to me to call my company and tell them that there was no chance I was getting out of bed.  Jessica, one of the main contacts and the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, offered to take me to the hospital.  Apparently this is SOP for the company, because I guess if you are ill to the point of missing class, then it must be severe enough that emergency-care is needed.  I told her that it wasn’t necessary, and she took care of calling the school and notifying them that I wouldn’t be teaching the 5 classes of 7th graders I am usually scheduled.  I did get better later in the day and managed to get myself out of the apartment and to the supermarket to grab some orange juice and fruits, and then to KFC for an old-fashioned chicken sandwich.

I did feel a little bad for staying home today.  I’ve done a lot more in worse conditions before, but I had to consider my health in the long-term.  I did a lot of thinking while laying in my bed till noon (and again from 2-4pm), and I came to the conclusion that this job is kind of grueling.  First off, the teachers in this company have more classes than the actual teachers of the schools.  Secondly, most of us are unfortunate enough to teach at a different school everyday (On Mondays and Fridays, I teach at two different schools).  This requires riding a different bus to each school, trying to remember all of your school’s exact locations (I got lost going to school twice, but I’m getting the hang of it now), trying to remember what floor the teacher’s office and your classes are at each school (thankfully I have the TA’s showing me to each of my classes), and…I won’t even get into trying to remember students’ names.  And thirdly, what I think contributed to my uncomfortable state is that everyday, I’m speaking out of my normal vocal range and trying my best to be energetic and charismatic.  These are qualities I only exhibit after a couple vodka-tonics.

It doesn’t help either that the culture of China allows people to spit on the ground centimeters from your feet (that’s right, I just used the metric system), dogs to poop in the middle of the street, and to have no real garbage disposal system outside of your apartment.  I feel icky every time I come home

Each day we bounce around the city between home, school, the office, and some sight-seeing in between.  I’m only 3 weeks into this journey, and I’ve already missed my first day.  So, it looks like my immune system has some toughening up to do.  I’m pretty sure, though, that when I come home after 10 months here, if someone sneezes on my face I”ll just think its raining.

10 Sept 2009-Teacher’s Day

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Teachers were celebrated today by students giving us flowers, cards, and little gifts as we entered school and when they dropped by the teacher’s office.  As I arrived to Jeifang Primary, there was the marching band lined up on the sides of the brick pathway leading to the front entrance.  I was too shy to figure out that this was for teachers, but when I saw my colleagues walk in, the band started playing.  On my way to the English office, a student who was not even one of mine gave me flowers.  At the end of my second class, my students presented me with another bouquet of flowers as they said in unison, “Happy Teacher’s Day!”  A student in my third class also gave me a tiny stuffed bunny-keychain.  All this was capped off with an early dismissal so teachers could go home and relax by lunch-time.  What a pleasant day.

Another thing I wanted to mention before was what the students did during their breaks.  There is one period where students have “morning exercise,” in which all the children line up outside on the playground.  An adminstrator, with megaphone in hand, commands the students from upstairs inside the building through a window, and the kids go through a series of stretches, calisthenics, and marching drills in a military-like fashion.  I’m not sure exactly the purpose of this.  The students also have P.E. and recess, so I think this is just an organized routine in Chinese schools since the days are very long and it is a way for them to stay in shape throughout the day and throughout the year.

Another way to help students get through the day is during the 10 minute break between classes, they perform “eye exercises.”  Since students are constantly staring at teachers and the blackboard, this supposedly helps them endure the long day.

One thing I do appreciate is that at some of my schools (mainly the upper-class ones), when I walk through the hallways and pass by a group of students, they all bow their heads and say “laoshi” (which is “teacher” in Mandarin).  I don’t think we have to say or do anything in response, but I’ve seen some simply bow their heads in return, which is what I’ve been doing every time.  Teachers get love here in China…

3 Sept 2009 – Day 2

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

My second day of teaching went just as well, if not better, than my first day.  I had all fifth graders today and one sixth grade class, and their English was phenomenal.  I basically did the same lesson plan as yesterday’s, and they loved it.  They were eager to stand in front of the class and recite the questions I had on the board, and they especially enjoyed Hangman (I have a feeling they call it something else, because when I write the name, they get confused, but when I start drawing it, they go “ahhhhhhh”).

A funny thing happened during my first class.  Like I mentioned before, there is no A/C in most schools here.  So, within the first 10 minutes of class, I started to sweat…profusely.  All I was wearing was a polo and jeans, but for me that was enough to make me look like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck.  The TA in the class thought I was nervous, so in the middle of class she handed me some tissues and a piece of paper that read “Don’t worry, you’re doing a good job!”  That was very nice of her and it definitely gave me some confidence, but I told her that it was simply the fact that it was hot in the room.  The TA then went above and beyond and went out in the hallway to open more windows.  They really take care of you here.

I was also intrigued by the number of male teachers at the schools.  I saw a good amount yesterday, and two (three if you count me) were in the English department alone.  It’s good to see some diversity here in the classroom.

Also, my day was cut short because all the teachers went to another school to sing – a celebratory activity for the country’s National Holiday coming up.  So it was nice to be done by lunch time.

I hope tomorrow goes just as well…

2 Sept 2009 – First Day

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Class is in session.  I am your teacher, Mr. David.

I just finished my first day of classes and, to my surprise, they went very well.  The school I taught at was creatively called No.40.  That’s it, and I don’t know why, either.  All of my students today were Junior 1 (or Grade 7), and they ranged anywhere between 12 to 14 years old.  Each class was 40 minutes long, and I had five classes, so the day actually went by fairly fast.

My first class was at 8:20am, so I arrived at the school at 8 (only three short bus stops from my apartment).  The Chinese teacher who also teaches English showed me to each of my classes.  I was a little nervous before the first one (and hot – there is no AC in any of the schools), but I swallowed my nerves and just began.  I started with a clapping exercise.  I would clap a certain rhythm (goes like:  clap, clap-clap-clap, clap) and the students would finish with (clap-clap).  I hope you understand that.  I told them that I would begin each class by doing that, just to get their attention.

I then introduced myself as Mr. David, and told them a little bit about myself (like where I was born, in which I proceeded to draw a map of the U.S. and make a mark on Washington D.C.).  Next, I wrote four questions on the chalkboard (yes, Chinese schools still use chalkboards, and it’s annoying):  Hello, what is your name?; How old are you?; What is your favorite color?; What is your favorite food?.  I also wrote the answers to these questions (My name is…, etc.) and had the class read the phrases aloud.  They did a very good job of repeating them.  The next thing I did was have them copy down the questions and answers (with the blanks filled in), look at the person next to them, and practice conversing.  After a couple minutes, I randomly chose a couple pairs to speak in front of the class.  The main purpose of this was for me to gauge the level of English for each student because I expected the level to be varied with each one.  However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they articulated the phrases.  I did have to correct them a bit, especially because they tend to speak too fast and not loud enough.  I only did this for a couple pairs, and then moved on.

I then had them ask me questions.  This wasn’t originally in my plan, but because I thought they could handle it, I added it impromptu.  They were shy at first, but the questions started flowing.  Picking on students to speak is a great sight.  They raise their hands, they stand up, speak, and then sit down.  It’s so proper, and I love it.  I got some normal questions (every class asked me if I spoke Chinese) and some interesting ones (“Where was your layover before coming to China?”, “Is America useful?”).

I then proceeded to my class rules.  I wrote down three:  1)When I speak, you listen, 2)ALWAYS speak English, and 3)Have fun.  I tried to keep it simple and not have too many rules.  I didn’t want to spend 15 minutes writing on the chalkboard, especially since I have pretty bad hand-writing.

I then spent the last part of class playing Hangman.  Most have heard of the game, others caught on quickly.  I still explained the concept, did a practice round, and then divided the class into two teams.  I think the students love the idea of competition, and everyone was enthusiastic about playing.  I used easy words like China, Harry Potter, and basketball.  I always made “United States of America” the last one and it was the hardest for most classes.

I ended each class by writing on the board “Goodbye, Mr. David” and told them that’s how I wanted them to respond when I said “Goodbye, class!”

All my classes went virtually the same way.  The class before lunch was the most hyper, and the last class was the most mellow.  Lunch was interesting, too.  I was shown to the cafeteria and helped with getting food, and then they took me to a private room where I could eat and “rest” before my last class.  To me, it seemed like special treatment.  Also, it seems that the questioning of the quality of cafeteria food is mainstream across the world.

Overall, a good day.  I only have this school once week because I teach at a different school every day.  The school today had about 25-30 students in each class, but I expect that to vary with each school (so I’m still dreading that 60-student class everyone tells me I’m going to get).  I also mainly have 6th graders and one 5th grade class.  I’ll try to update as much as I can, especially if I notice something very different and/or interesting about my classes.

P.S.  I just bought a microphone for my laptop, and I have Skype.  If you’re bored and feel like talking to someone halfway across the world, just e-mail me and I’ll give you my Skype name.

27 Aug 2009 – first chinese meal and a long hike up a mountain

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

What a day today.  When we had a break in our orientation, a couple of the teachers went on a stroll to Tiger Beach.  We walked maybe a little more than two miles up this mountain and overlooked the beach.  Very beautiful.  On the way up, we also saw marijuana plants growing.  Kevin, a fellow teacher and one who has been in China a couple months, says that it grows openly here without the Chinese knowing exactly what it is.  So, something to think about if you want to visit this country.  Also, when walking around China, you’re allowed to have open bottles of alcohol.  This could be dangerous information I’m giving out…

We also ate lunch at the private school we had orientation at.  The food wasn’t that great, just some tofu concoction over rice, a bowl of soup, and some unappealing entrees.  But, when we had our welcome dinner at this restaurant, I finally got my first real Chinese meal.  It was delicious.  Kung Pao Chicken is an original Chinese meal, too!  And Gracie, if you are reading this, they refer to American food the same way we refer to their Chinese food.

Another cool thing about eating in China are the way they do toasts.  You have to say “Gan Bei” before drinking, and most people down their drinks in one swig (the glasses are pretty small).  And whenever my glass was empty, someone was always re-filling it.

Below are pictures of Tiger Beach and Mary Jane (no, that’s not the girl’s name).

Dalian Part 1 023Dalian Part 1 018

We also learned today how they want us to develop our lesson plans.  All the students have Chinese teachers who teach them English.  Our purpose here is to supplement what those teachers teach them. We have textbooks, but we don’t have to strictly follow them.  We basically need to find creative and interesting ways for the students to apply what they learn, and give them a perspective on American teaching methods since most will eventually continue their education in the States.

During orientation, we got to meet some of the students.  These were private school kids, about 16 years of age, and most spoke English well.  A lot of the girls like Harry Potter, Twilight, and World of Warcraft (haha!).  Basketball is also very popular among the kids.  I couldn’t get excited about teaching them, though because I won’t be teaching at any private schools.  I really liked this particular school we had orientation in.  Pretty upscale, had a lot of resources.  Oh well, maybe next semester.