I think Wednesday’s are officially “I’m dead” days. Yesterday I slept about 5 hours during the day. I’m just so wiped from early mornings. Maybe if the music for exercises only last 10 or 15 minutes I could roll over and go back to sleep. But no, that isn’t happening. It goes on and on and on. Sometimes there are announcements and sometimes there is just regular annoying music added on. It could be more than an hour of non-stop aural assault. So no classes on Wednesday and by 10AM I’m down for the count. Shujie went out yesterday and I didn’t even hear her leave.
I even went for a walk after dinner yesterday. I thought Shujie was going to have the big one when she asked me if I wanted to go out and I said yes. That’s the first time I’ve done that on the first asking. And what’s amazing is that even after all the sleep on Wednesday I can still fall asleep before 1AM. This will not end but will continue for the year. Oh joy, he said.
The topic of this week’s speeches for my students was “What do I like least about school”. Everyone did their work (amazing) and the top 3 answers are:
- Getting up twice a week for morning exercises.
- The overcrowding and high prices in the cafeteria.
- The overcrowding which makes getting between classes difficult.
So the little monsters do have to exercise. You can never get the same answer twice if you ask the same question twice. The first time they told me they don’t exercise. Now it seems that it’s mandatory twice a week and attendance is taken. I think they should let the kids (and me) sleep.
At first I was shocked that they had to buy their own food and then I realized that it’s normal, even in the west. You put money on your food card and it’s deducted from the card depending on what you eat. The food isn’t great (as I’m told as I wouldn’t eat it). The lines are long because there are so many people. I guess feeding 12,000 people in two sittings is a lot.
I had kids write that the biggest dislike they had was that they had too many classes. The boy who said that also said that he hardly has any homework so who knows what he’s complaining about. It’s interesting to hear their “pet peeves”. But I’m with them 100% on the exercise thing.
If you make a threat, you need to follow through on it. I don’t do idle threats. I’m very nice and easy and kind. I try to be helpful and if a student says they have to take off for 20 minutes to do something, I just say goodbye. If a student says they forgot their book with their homework, I ask them if they did it for real and if they say yes, I say “okay”. I’m easy.
Now, I told them at the beginning of the year that I don’t like talking when I’m talking or their fellow students are talking. I usually let it go as long as it isn’t too loud or doesn’t happen too often. This morning there were 2 boys talking back and forth. They were in different rows and one kept looking back at the other to speak. I kept looking at them but didn’t say anything assuming they’d get the hint. But like most students, they assume I’m stupid.
Finally I walked to the back where they were sitting and told them to leave the classroom. One of the boys just looked at me and sat there. So I sat down and told him I wasn’t moving until he left the classroom. He slammed his books and his chair and left. The other boy just left. I think the class was shocked. I asked one boy if any teachers ever kicked kids out of class and he told me, “in primary school, yes, in middle school, yes, but never in college”. I confirmed this with another class. So I guess I’m the crazy foreigner but if you tell them what the punishment is in advance, you need to follow through with it.
I called Wang Jing after class because even though I told her I would do this if necessary, I thought she should know in case it came to her through the grapevine. She wanted the names of the students as someone was going to talk to them. That’s fine with me. I hope I don’t have to do it again since they now know I’m serious.
I also found out there was a big meeting with this class after my complaint about them on Monday. So the class monitor who told me that no one had spoken to them probably didn’t understand me or just did the typical Chinese lie. Big deal. I’m not messing around. They want an English teacher, I’m here. They want a babysitter, get someone else.
My “philosophy” if you want to call it that is that my 2nd job in the classroom is to be an English teacher. My first job is to get them to use their brains, which is no easy task. I wonder if any of their teachers (and I have no idea) try to stretch their brains. I want them thinking and I want to discuss things with them. Of course, I need them to speak English so we can discuss.
I told the class that in the one month together that I thought they were smarter than they pretended to be, and that they knew more English than they claim to know if I make them speak. I told them that they’ve improved in the last month. I don’t know if this is true but I figure positive reinforcement won’t hurt.
I tried teaching a song this afternoon for a change of pace. I wanted a song that could be understood (I printed out the lyrics for them) and that we could discuss. I chose “Imagine” by John Lennon. It really isn’t their type of music and it’s so hard to get a conversation going. I gave them the lyrics and some time to review them and I’d answer any questions. There were no questions. I played the song the 1st time and asked for questions and almost keeled over when a girl put up her hand and asked a question. Good for her. I played the song again and tried to get a discussion going. No chance. So I’d ask questions and some of the bozos didn’t understand the questions which had to do with the lyrics they claimed to understand. What idiots. I told one boy that if you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know”. One boy finally admitted he didn’t know and I told him, “see, I didn’t shoot you”, and made as if I had a gun to shoot him with. You try and try to create an atmosphere where no one is afraid to talk or ask a question and it’s worse than pulling teeth.
I was surprised to learn that in this country of little religion most of the students believe there is a heaven. I then asked them if they believed there was a hell and then immediately told them that there is and it’s called “Jiangsu Polytechnic College of Forestry and Agriculture”. Most of them got it right away and laughed. I was pleased. More students believed in heaven than in hell (one girl told me heaven was nicer to believe in). I found it interesting.
I then played snippets of various songs to try to get a feeling for what type of music they liked. They didn’t really like anything and I have a very wide range of music on my Ipad. However, they’d like to do a song again so we will but it’s my choice and they’ll have to deal with the music. I’m considering doing “Like a Virgin” next since I can’t imagine any of them having sex (it’s like picturing 12 year olds having sex) and I want to see how embarrassed I can make them. I’m also considering SLUT by Todd Rundgren.
In the morning it’s off for our week in Baoding. Shujie’s friend is meeting us at the train station in Beijing to drive us to Baoding which is very kind of her and will save us a potential heap of trouble. The roads and trains and buses should be quite crowded starting tomorrow. Shujie is looking forward to it and I’ll survive it. It seems she had bought a pair of running shoes for her son’s girlfriend but now that she’s no more, Shujie says she wants to keep them. I told her she should give them to QiJi for his next girlfriend if the shoe fits.