Monday, July 21, 2008


Update time. This update will be a bit boring ...all about my teaching time so I'll just start it out by saying this weekend I ended FINALLY going to the beach here in Taiwan, ended up having a blast, just drinking beer and hanging out on this beautiful beach all the way in the North of the end we had some awesome food at this little surfer restaurant on the beach, filled with Bob Marley kitch and surfing videos on the tv...the food was amazing too. The highlight was a Taiwanese girl we were with, who offered me sun TANNING spray saying "no you don't need it're too white" haha it's sadly true...It was a great day, and looking forward to taking more little day trips like that in the future......but got me some color this weekend, despite my SPF 50 I am a little red....

Anyway teaching. As most of my family members are teachers. (my mom, uncle, 3 aunts, 3 cousins? ) I feel it's in my genes to teach. Surely I've spent enough Christmas dinners listening to teachers to know how to do it right; and also learning not to mess with the UFT
So my teaching breaks down like this:
M-F 450 to 620 I teach 11 year olds
Tuesday 830 - 10 I teach adult language conversation classes
Thursdays 7-10 I will be teaching TOEFL classes to prospective grad students
and Mondays from 730 -930 I'll be teaching a one-on-one conversation class...just me and the adult student ( I just found out about this today)

However so far I've only taught the kids. There are only 4 kids in my class, all 11 year of them is really smart, actually they all are really smart....but I guess this kid just tries a lot more and has really good pronunciation and reading abilities. Then there is another kid, quiest but does well on tests and activities, the third boy is not as strong a reader or writing as the other two and he is the one always nodding off, drawing on the desk, looking out the window....I think it's just because he doesn't understand what is going on. And then there is the only girl in the class who is really smart, but so painfully shy. I try to encourage her as much as I can and whenever we do an activity I always let her run it, like be the timer or score keeper....she loses her shyness then and I think likes bossing the boys around....I think they listen to her more than me haha

They are tough though, they're all eleven years old and it's the summer, at 5 o'clock and you know their parents are forcing them to go to school. Every class is a struggle to get them to read, to write to talk anything....I say ok time for writing "NOOOOOOOOOO Teacha, we don't want to" or "Ok today we're gonna learn about ...." "Noooooo teacha I don't wanna"
"can you make five sentences using the spelling word ?"
-"Yes (from the smart one)
-" OK go ahead let's hear them"
-"Ok Teacha: I don't know, I don't know I don't know I don't know I don't know"

Damn it, I fell for it again!

And forget anything related even remotely to grammar. They refuse to even pretend to be interested. The bad thing is though I have to stick to this curriculum the school gives me so I have to spend 2 hours a week on the dreaded grammar. poor kids. It's up to me to make it fun. I mean their job is to resist as much as possible.......and I don't or can't blame them for that.

But there are one or two (sad that it's only been that few ) moments of fun where you can tell that they are really enjoying and learning at the same time...I think if I can make it more than 50 % of the fun and learning.....less than 50% of NOOOOOOOOOO teachaaaaa!!!!
I will have succeeded (quick the last sentence....what verb form ? Don't know? well 11 year old Taiwanese kids have better grammar than you do)

ALSO another frustrating thing is that thanks to the NYC public school system, I have no idea about proper grammar and its usage. They honestly are so smart about that grammar stuff, they can tell me why to say use the Past perfect as opposed to the past perfect continuous (I challenge some of you college grads to take a look at their grammar book and see if you can get the answers right!)
Anyway its really challenging, by far the most difficult thing I'm doing here....I just hope I can reach them before the inspiration for learning is completely burnt out. I'd hate to be the teacher who made them hate English. I do believe a good teacher has to inspire, and that a truly great teacher will inspire their students to learn for the sake of learning... the old teach a man to fish addage..... BUt; then I think back to my teachers and there are only a handful out of the dozens I can say did that that is inspired rather than deflated
.....I hope I'm the former for these kids. I have to adjust and figure out ways to be inspiring to 11 year olds....
...Any helpful suggestions?

I start teaching the adults on Thursday, in conversation classes, then the one-on -one monday...then the big TOEFL class next Tuesday. The convo class I'm excited about, I can be myself, laugh and joke with them. And their paying for it so I want to make sure they get their money's worth. I think it will be fun...there's less pressure I just have to make sure they have fun and learn some new words.............. The TOEFL class isn't as bad as I thought. The book has all test tips so I think I should be ok. I have to put in a lot of effort though for sure...after all these guys are paying a lot of money ( we can all relate to the exorbitant costs of SAT prep, GRE prep, LSAT prep, MCAT prep, etc. ) and I want them to succeed, so I can't half-ass it and gotta really put in the effort.

Oh also I'm going to be subbing for another teacher at my kids school. He teaches a 6 year old class 2 hours a day. I'll sub for him, but only a week. I think I've got it all covered here. 6 year olds, 11 year olds, adults, high school kids (I taught them at the day camp), one-on-one tutoring, and test I missing anyone ?
A friend of mine said I'm like those guys in the old school movies, who balance all these spinning plates on each arm, a toe, another toe, their head. I think it's true I like to take on as many varying (vocab word for my kids today) and challenging opportunities as I can. I think that's why it took me 4.5 years to graduate....and why I keep prolonging grad school.....and why I'm restless in anyone place...after I've been there for a while.....I mean why focus on one area, when you can learn so much more by exploring all other fields? It's a big world full of knowledge why waste it learning only one thing?

Let's just hope I'm strong enough to keep all my plates spinning. I like metaphors.


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