Jeremiah Heals The World: Part 153

25 06 2010

OK, my last post on teaching in China. I just wanted to highlight my final few weeks. So for finals, I had the kids meet with me for one minute, where they would discuss something that interested them, in this case, either the World Cup or their favorite movie or song. I liked doing this for the final for a couple reasons: First off, it left me not having to worry about constantly shushing the kids while others gave presentations in front of the class, something that was a big problem in the last round of finals. Secondly, it gave me a chance to evaluate the English level of the kids, which is always fun for me. Anyway, finals went fine. I think only had one girl in all my classes who didn’t take the final. I did have something funny happen, though, where a girl came out and said “I have a secret, but please don’t tell anyone. The song I told you about, I like it because it has the same name of someone in class who I am in love with.” (I’ll refrain from exposing her here on my blog, but the name rhymes with Heephen. Anyway, I thought that was cute, and no, I didn’t tell him when he came out to take the final.

After the finals, I had a class where we played games and the kids signed a little yearbook I bought. I also took a couple photos, the best of which I will attach here. The comments in the yearbooks were funny, so I thought I’d highlight the best of them:

Lucy in Junior 1 said: “Jeremiah is HANDSOME! I love you! I’m your fans!” Alex (Junior 1): “Cross my heart, you are a true favorite teacher. Don’t forget me.”
Annie (Junior 1): “I miss you Superman!” (They do the Superman stuff a lot in Junior 1)
Ethan (Junior 1): “I miss you and your beer.” (I think he meant beard…) O’neil (Junior 1): “If you have some phone number, please call me at my new service. ****3865511. Please don’t forget me. Happy
everyday!!!” (The ‘Happy Every Day’ thing I got over and over from kids)
Amanda (Junior 1): “I don’t want to say anymore, or I will cry. Well I hope you can be happy every day. I will miss you.”
Nucleon (Junior 1): “I hope you can come back and teach next year! And I hope you have a happy marriage!”
Bill (Junior 1): “Mr. Jeremiah: You are a good teacher, my best friend. See you next year!”
Hillary (Junior 1): Next time I meet you, I hope you can be more handsome! P.S. Bring your wife to us!” (Not sure what she meant by the ‘more handsome’ thing, but it’s nothing a bit more hair loss won’t take care of.

The next few are from the Junior 2s, and they tend to occasionally stray a bit more into “I don’t care/I am going to ramble about something incomprehensible” territory.

Amy in 9A: “You look a bit like my uncle, I dare say. Do you know Phaeton?” Annie in 9A: “Happy. I like what I like. Twilight!”
Henry in 7A: “You are your fate. Now it’s showtime!”
Peter Chen in 7A: “I love Chelsea, Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Juventus, Real Madrid, Marseille, Parma, Porto and so on … And of course, Aston Villa. Good luck, Jeremiah!”
Sky in 7A: “Lord. Saint. God.”
Rick in 4A: “We’ll go to another place for Junior Three. We’ll go back someday, I miss you.”
Crossing in 4A: “Government. YK. SC. Forever deep.”
Jessica in 3A: “Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night. Good … every day. Happy every day! We all love you. Our teacher.” (This was followed by a picture of a potted sunflower with a beard wearing sunglasses)
Selena in 9B: “To be open to international understanding in a modern world while maintaining your/their Chinese soul. You have nothing to say. Bingo!” (Is she dissing me? She’s totally dissing me, right? Oh, the first part is the school slogan. But after that? Totally dissing me.)
Teddy in 11A: “You can call me by my new English name, Stephanie. Jeremiah, I’ll miss you. I still want you to come back. Will you remember me?? Hope you have a wonderful holiday. And we’ll always keep the faith.”
Miranda in 1A: “You are a very wonderful man. This is my email address. I hope you can send email for me.”
Elle in 1A: “I like India, Spain, Brazil … and AFRICA! They are wonderful!” Bill Pan in 1A: “I see you everywhere. You inspire me a lot. I’m glad to communicate with you.”
Cyndi in 1A: “I like you very much! And I like Super Junior!” Henry in 5A: “Hi Jeremiah. I’m Henry, the one who always plays mobile in class. I hope you can enjoy yourself.”
Wendy in 5A: “I think you need to be thinner. And you have more hair than me.” (Oops Wendy, I accidentally changed your final grade to an F. Sorry!)

There were many more responses, some of them very sweet, but I don’t want to bore you with 300 more.

Lastly, here are some pictures:
1. Class 4A, Junior 1
2. Class 5B, Junior 1
3. Me with some students from class 9A, Junior 1
4. Class 5A, Junior 2

Good luck, kids!


Jeremiah Heals The World, Part 5

20 12 2009

I decided that my occasional posts on teaching needed their own catchy title. This is what I came up with. Your thoughts?

So as I think I’ve mentioned in other posts, we’re now approaching the end of the fall semester at school here, which of course means that I have to start preparing for finals. Now as some of you have probably heard, in China, scheduling is a bit more chaotic than it is in the United States. Or maybe lackadaisical? Anyway, I’m not totally clear on what our schedule is for the remainder of the semester, but I made an ambitious assumption that I would have six more classes with each class before we’re supposed to turn in grades. So I decided to spend last week giving them an outline of what I want them to do in the final – a report on a newsmaker, similar to Missy’s assignment. Initially, the assignment didn’t go so well. I explained what I was having them do, then let them pick from a list of people. But everyone crowded around, and in my first two classes, I didn’t manage to give everyone a topic before class ended. So I modified my plan a little bit and ended up having them pick from a hat what topic to do, which was a little more successful. Anyway, all was well and good, and I had them ready to start presentations two weeks from the day of the class, when I found out a couple interesting things from some of my teachers:

1. No Friday class the next three weeks, which completely throws off my plan to have them each do presentations individually, at least for the classes that day. Friday is the day where I also have the most classes.
2. No class on Dec. 31, when the Thursday students were supposed to start their presentations.
3. I also heard a rumor that for the foreign teachers, the last class if Jan. 15, one which has yet to be confirmed or denied.

So for this week, my plan is to go in and talk to the teachers and hopefully find out one way or another what the schedule is for the rest of the semester. I guess for the Friday students, I’ll have them just pair up and give presentations the last two weeks, and for the other students, we’ll proceed as planned. I told the kids I would do a presentation this week on a Chinese pop star to give them an idea of what I wanted them to do. We’ll see how that goes.

Wo jiu shi lao shi. That’s right, I said it.

7 12 2009

Today I was making up a class that I had missed on Thanksgiving – not because I was gone, but rather because the teacher had to do some sort of work with the students, so she asked me to make it up some other time. Because I didn’t want to bother rehashing a Thanksgiving lesson that bored me to death and would probably only do marginally more for the students, I decided to have them give me a report card for class, not unlike what Missy did with her classes a few weeks ago. This class was one of my better Junior 1 classes, by the way, and they all cheered when I showed up.

I had the kids answer the following questions:
1. What is your favorite thing we’ve done in class so far?
2. What is your least favorite thing we’ve done in class so far? 3. Jeremiah’s Grade: (A=I love class!; B=Class is good; C=Class is just so-so; D=Class is bad; F=Go back to America!)
4. What else would you like to do/learn about in class?

Most of the grades were A’s or A+’s, though the students were aware that I would be reading their replies. They seemed to genuinely enjoy giving me a grade, and I know it’s something that they never ever get to do with their Chinese English teachers. Anyway, all of the feedback was positive except for the two girls who gave me B’s and will live to regret it. I did have some interesting comments though to #4. I had one students who said she would like more homework (“Or not, it’s OK.”) and I had a couple students who said they would like to talk more. So this got me to thinking. Not about whether I should allow them to talk more, because that’s, frankly, unacceptable (kidding, of course), but rather about my lesson-planning. Here’s the deal: I haven’t been lesson-planning for the good classes. I’ve been lesson-planning to avoid excessive problems with the couple of classes I tend to have trouble with. (Yeah, I’m talking about you, 3B) It hasn’t really been a conscience thing … I know all the kids have been enjoying my classes, at least in most of them. But the thing is, I know I’ve had the tendency to at least debate switching courses on classes when I have a bad class. This usually happens on Monday (the make-up class is typically on Thursday), which is the day of my worst class, by far. This is really something I need to change, so here’s what I’m planning: From now on, I’m going to lesson plan with the good kids in mind, and if I have to throw some crap together for the class I have that could care less, I can do that. That way, whether or not I ever “make the breakthrough” with my one bad group of kids, at least I’ll be teaching the kids who want to learn something.
That’s my thought process.
Anyone have an opinion on that?

In other news, I finally quit my Monday night class I was teaching. I don’t think I’ve updated on it much, but I have it just Mondays, there are three kids in the class, and one typically doesn’t show. The other two don’t really speak English. I’ll hang on to my Tuesday and Thursday classes, but that’s it for Monday, and I couldn’t be happier.


… And a teaching update

5 11 2009

So I thought I’d finally recover from my blogging about the Golden Week vacation stupor and post something new, specifically about teaching, since I imagine there is someone out there I haven’t talk to recently. Anyway, right now I’m still working at the foreign language school, and I also teach a night class three times a week at Nanjing University to a small group of students who are transferring to the University of San Francisco.
As for teaching, what can I say? The kids are great, and I enjoy it immensely most of the time. But I occasionally have issues dealing with the school and the quintessentially Chinese lack of organization that goes on there. At this point, I’m more or less used to it, but I certainly haven’t started to feel any better about our lack of any kind of real stated goal for what we’re doing here as teachers, besides prompting parents to pay the 20,000 kuai or whatever it costs for their students to go to the school, because it has such a large bank of foreign teachers. As for the rest of stuff, such as how we’ll occasionally get texts from other teachers announcing randomly that we have mail somewhere on campus, or that class is canceled (the day of, of course), or that we have to go somewhere for some event (generally the day of, as well) – well, that stuff can be amusing, so I don’t get too upset about that.
I have enjoyed teaching, though. I have 15 classes at the foreign language school, each one having 30 students, roughly. I particularly enjoy the Junior 1 kids (essentially 7th graders), who are
enthusiastic and talkative. The older kids tend to be a little more jaded, and they’ve started to realize that, “Hey, we don’t get a grade for this class, and a lot of the teachers show up in t-shirts and don’t have a lesson plan!” so they tend to be a little more difficult. But I really only have one class that is out and out bad. I have a couple where it’s occasionally a struggle to get them to pay attention and/or participate, but all the rest range from pretty decent to really good. I particularly enjoy the Junior 1 class that claps when I enter class. For my current lesson, I’m having them do that exercise where they take a paragraph for a story, then write what happens next. Then, after a few minutes, I have them switch stories and start writing on a different story. By and large, the exercise has been pretty successful, though it hasn’t had quite the reaction that playing the Thriller video did last week. I think Missy is getting upset about the burgeoning Jeremiah Fan Club which has popped up among the female students, though.
As far as the night class goes, I’ve enjoyed it, though I’ve had something like 13 classes now, and I feel like we’re sort of treading water at this point, asking and answering the same questions over and over. The past week or so, I’ve been concentrating a lot more on their pronunciation, which definitely needs work. The students (four girls in one class, two guys and a girl in the other) are all really nice, and their English ranges from barely functional to fairly decent. Most of the questions have been about what to expect from Americans, some of them funny (“Is college in America like the movie American Pie?”), but it gives sort of a nice change from trying to get 500 14-year-olds to stop screwing around for half an hour. More later.