Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009...2:44 am

2 Sept 2009 – First Day

Jump to Comments

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.

Comments are closed.