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Grade 5 Art

January 10th, 2007 1 comment

“Have fun with it.  That’s the best thing you can do,” the assistant teacher says to me.  Ms. Erica is from New York, “New Yorican” she says; a New Yorker from Puerto Rico.  Talk about intimidating, I had to read a spanish book while she watched me stumble over Mexican names.  Try saying, “Queztzalcoatl” 5 times!  It’s a great story though, called “How We Came to the Fifth World” by Harriet Rohmer and Mary Anchondo.  It was a 45 minute class and it took 5 minutes to make a circle.  They arrived late and so after reading the story, they only had 10 minutes to start sketching their favourite parts of the story.
Looking at this schedule, this teacher has only 7 planning periods in a week out of 25 total periods.  Hats off to Grade school teachers!

It’s a small school of only 293 students but the workload is heavy because one does art and drama for grades 1 – 12.

“And, ya never get it right,” Erica says.  A good reminder to relax when self-evaluating.

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Full, Full days

January 10th, 2007 No comments

I have survived two 12.5 hr long teaching days, and 4 more to go.  In the morning and afternoon, I’m at Kaohsiung American School substituting for the highschool math teacher.  From 4.30 – 8.30pm I’m at Joy English School where I teach English to children ages 7 – 12.  With so much activity in the day it’s a challenge to get to sleep at night, but going to the school in the morning has been surprisingly enjoyable.  Perhaps that is because I know that I’m not actually accountable for teaching them the algebra and calculus concepts that I have forgotten.  They really do know more than I, when it comes to math.  Even the the pre-algebra is a tough stretch for my memory.  What is a function?

I was supposed to be subbing for the math teacher all week but last minute today they asked me to sub for the drama/art teacher who is going to be considered for working on production and performance on a film in Italy.  My day will start bright and chilly at 6am and I’ll have an hour break between schools and then come home at 8.30pm.  I can only manage it because I don’t do any planning or marking as a sub.  It’ll be a nice opportunity to see what the schedule of a drama/art teacher of a K-12 international school feels like, and it will call on my creativity which is always a joy.  I’m really looking forward to working with the elementary grades in art too.  They are more at my level of practice, I think.

I am not homesick as much as I was last month, during (what are usually) the holidays.  I’m booked to arrive in Vancouver January 19th and I think, by the way things feel right now, that I may come back if there is an opportunity to teach at an accredited international school.  We’ll see.

 

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Obedience

December 22nd, 2006 No comments

“Thank you, Teacher Janice.  May I eat now?”  is what they chant, poised at their tables, to mark the end of my time with them and the beginning of their snack or lunch break.  And they really do wait for my response, “Yes, you may.”

Wow.  That kind of order is magical bordering on freaky.  I like it, kinda.

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First thing heard & Lasting lesson

December 22nd, 2006 No comments

I got called this morning at 8.30am to sub for a kindergarten english teacher who sprained her ankle on her way to work.  The class would begin at 9:30am and I had never taught kindergarten before.  Luckily, I had a fabulous Taiwanese support teacher.  I haven’t been seeking work with kindergartens here because I thought I might get bored of babysitting, but I had fun.  Being with them gave me permission to just play.  The children were well behaved and were very accepting of me and the half dozen college students who came to observe us for their early childhood education studies.  The little ones are so quick to adapt.  They are a fantastic age of still being very curious and accepting of new people, especially an Asian face that doesn’t speak to them in Chinese, nor understands what they say.
The way things are done here, makes me realize how sensitive we are in Canada to  change.  It’s difficult to explain in concisely.  It seems that dissappointments, challenges, or discomfort are not acknowledged outwardly with as much time or energy as they would  in similar situations in Canada.  For example, if a group of 70 students all ran under a broken halloween pinata to pick up candies and it turned into a stampede with 3 and 4 year olds being pinned to the ground under 50 others, the incident might make the news in Canada and parents might file complaints and hold the school responsible.  Well here, I’ve seen that very thing happen here, and though there was concern for their safety and all the adults ran to stop the children from jumping onto each other, most if not all, had a laugh about it almost immediately and no angry complaints or blame was laid to anyone.  That was Halloween and now it’s Christmas, so I got to tell them what stockings and presents are for during Christmas.

Once I finished playing and reading with the children in the morning, I helped feed them lunch and the school fed me too and then we had a nap.  Yup.  Teachers too.  I went home, chatted online and had a ly down and came back at 2pm.  I taught a different class for two hours and took a few pictures there that’ll show up here eventually, and then I scooted off (literally on a scooter) to a different school where I would work until 8:30pm.

My evening hours are at a buxiban, pronounced ‘boo-shee-ban’ (english language school), where I must learn over a hundred names.  Although the class size doesn’t usually exceed 12, the classes each day are filled with new faces who come once a week.  There are so many of them and I must learn all their names.   I’m getting pretty good at getting them down within the first 10 minutes of class but next week, I’m sure I’ll have to re-learn them again.

My favourite part of today, was getting to teach a class with a boy who had a hearing aid device that allowed him to access my voice through a special microphone I wore around my neck.  What was so brilliant, was to see that he was the most competent, competitive, enthusiastic and least compromised student in the class.  All of my instruction was oral and most of their participation required verbal responses.  In fact, he was helping fellow classmates spell my dictations.  Sure it showed how well the hearing device works; an amazing technological advancement.  But the spirit with which he wore it and gave it to me, and showed me how to wear the counterpart, was inspiring.  No shame, no apologies, no questions.  And the class, when I walked and started my introduction without seeing or knowing that I would need to wear the microphone, entirely supported us to get suited up for audio.  I hope they stay that way into adulthood.

I often hear complaints about the challenges of caring for children from teachers and parents, but today, although it was work and required energy, it was a pure joy and an honour to part of their development.

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First thing heard & Lasting lesson

December 22nd, 2006 No comments

I got called this morning at 8.30am to sub for a kindergarten English teacher who sprained her ankle on her way to work.  The class would begin at 9:30am and I had never taught kindergarten before.  Luckily, I had a fabulous Taiwanese support teacher.  I haven’t been seeking work with kindergartens here because I thought I might get bored of babysitting, but I had fun.  Being with them gave me permission to just play.  The children were well behaved and were very accepting of me and the half dozen college students who came to observe us for their early childhood education studies.  The little ones are so quick to adapt.  They are a fantastic age of still being very curious and accepting of new people, even an Asian face that doesn’t speak to them in Chinese or understands what they say.
The way things are done here makes me realize how sensitive we are in Canada to change.  It’s difficult to explain concisely. It seems that disappointments, challenges, or discomfort are not acknowledged outwardly with as much time or energy as they would  in similar situations in Canada.  For example, if a group of 70 students all ran under a broken halloween pinata to pick up candies and it turned into a stampede with 3 and 4 year olds being pinned to the ground under 50 others, the incident might make the news in Canada and parents might file complaints and hold the school responsible.  Well, I’ve seen that very thing happen here, and although there was concern for their safety and all the adults ran to stop the children from jumping onto each other, most if not all, had a laugh about it almost immediately. No angry complaints or blame was laid to anyone.  That was Halloween. And now it’s Christmas. I got to tell them what stockings and presents are for during Christmas.

Once I finished playing and reading with the children in the morning, I helped feed them lunch. The school fed me too and then we had a nap.  Yup,  teachers too.  I went home, chatted online and had a ly down and came back at 2pm.  I taught a different class for two hours and took a few pictures there that’ll show up here eventually, and then I scooted off (literally on a scooter) to a different school where I would work until 8:30pm.

My evening hours are at a buxiban, pronounced ‘boo-shee-ban’ (english language school), where I must learn over a hundred names.  Although the class size doesn’t usually exceed 12, the classes each day are filled with new faces who come once a week.  There are so many of them and I must learn all their names.   I’m getting pretty good at getting them down within the first 10 minutes of class but next week, I’m sure I’ll have to re-learn them again.

My favourite part of today, was getting to teach a class with a boy who had a hearing aid device that allowed him to access my voice through a special microphone I wore around my neck.  What was so brilliant to see was that he was the most competent, competitive, enthusiastic and least compromised student in the class.  All of my instruction was oral and most of their participation required verbal responses.  In fact, he was helping fellow classmates spell my dictations.  Sure it showed how well the hearing device works; an amazing technological advancement.  But the spirit with which he wore it and gave it to me, and showed me how to wear the counterpart, was inspiring.  No shame, no apologies, no questions.  And the class, when I walked and started my introduction without seeing or knowing that I would need to wear the microphone, entirely supported us to get suited up for audio.  I hope they stay that way into adulthood.

I often hear complaints about the challenges of caring for children from teachers and parents, but today, although it was work and required energy, it was a pure joy and an honour to part of their development.

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Grasshoppers

December 16th, 2006 No comments

The next day, he brought live grasshoppers contained in a small rectagular box that used to package sponge cake. The children poked at the flimsy cellophane window and I quickly followed each of their pokes with tape to seal in the green musicians. It was an adventure with each class and though it would be nice to see them again, I feel relieved to give my voice a break this weekend and not have to take the 15 minute train ride plus 10 minute scooter ride into Gangshan.

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Beetle boy

December 14th, 2006 No comments

He brought the bug to class today. So all day and for 8 hours tomorrow, I get to keep the company of a Japanese beetle of the taxidermy variety. “It’s already died,” the children said encouragingly as I cringed at the site of Jack, opening the case and petting it.  I asked Jack if he wanted to take it home at the end of class so that I could get rid of it, but he said no and said, “You put it there,” pointing to the desk.  I compromised and put it by the stereo, close but not right in front of me.  It appears that “Teacher” was the only one who found the oversized dead beetle creepy.  None of the other children found it odd or disgusting.  In fact, the students in the following class, seemed jealous that I had it.
At this particular school, I had to dictate the pages of 4 – 8 hrs of lesson pages into tape recorders that the children would take home. Even though the actual recording time only takes 10 minutes for each class, I’m finding that my throat is getting quite tender from having to talk constantly. I really wish I had a tambourine. Maybe this weekend I’ll go on a mission for an instrument that will help me to capture the attention of the high energy classes.

It’s really interesting when I get a class whose students just get up from a nap. They come in like zombies and today I had to play “Teacher says” with them to get them into their bodies. It worked like a charm but of course by the end of the class, I was taking students off tables and getting bombarded with tattle-tales of all sorts. If I were to see this class again, I’d experiment with letting them remain as zombies but tomorrow is my last day with them. That’s the advantage and disadvantage of being a substitute. Including the fact that it’s difficult to deviate from the regular teacher’s routine with the students because I’m just a visitor to them.  But the perks come when students give you food during their breaks.  It’s very common here for students to make things for their teachers or bring them gifts.  It’s a lovely part of the culture in Taiwan the way teachers are respected.
I’ve got a prospect for a contract job with a school that will have me starting with them just after Chinese New Year in late February. Until then, I have subbing hours throughout December and January to keep me busy. The laugh of the week is that I’m going to teach algebra and calculus at an international school! haha. Ya, I took them in highschool and undergrad, but that was over 10 years ago! Absolute silliness.

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Yucky #2

December 13th, 2006 No comments

Cockroach pages were Yuck #1. And then, after a long day of teaching with a weak and tired voice I ride the train back to Kaohsiung which gets me to my scooter parked at the station by 10:45pm. I can’t read Chinese so of course I don’t know if I’m on the slow train or the express train. But while I sat on the train waiting for it to leave, out the window I watch another train pull-up, one person in my coach jump out and hop on to the one that just arrived across the platform, and then it shoots off in the direction I need to be going. So, I figured out that I was on the slow train. And not only that, but one that smelled like urine.

And then silly thing #3 is not a “Yuck!”, but a “Crap!” I get back to my scooter to find that I’ve lost my key. So I hop in a taxi to go home and I’ll have to return tomorrow with the help of a friend to retrieve my scooter.

At least I can lay my head down tonight knowing that I’ve got people in this world who will help me out when in a jam, and some who cares enough to give me cockroaches.

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Whatever happened to apples?

December 13th, 2006 No comments

I took a week of substitute work teaching English to children at an English language school in Gangshan. It’s a small town just north of Kaohsiung, where I’m staying. There is one student, who is both annoying and adorable. Jack (as I’ll call him here) is known to bring something to school that he’ll play with during the 20 minute break. Today, it was a book of insects. He was frustrating me today because he was constantly disturbing the student next to him, or day dreaming and slowing down the pace at which I needed to instruct the class. I was also getting tired of saying, “Jack, get off the table. Jack, sit in your chair. Jack, please stop talking and listen.” I am convinced that he has an attention deficit, and I, had a deficit of patience, today.

When break time came around, I felt so relieved. I could rest my voice and play christmas carols and clear my head for the 2nd round. While I sat at my desk, Jack invited himself over to keep me company and pulled a chair next to me, while the other children ate their snacks.

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