Before I came to China, to be blunt, I was terrified of children. I have some experience learning and teaching languages, and have worked quite a bit with middle school and high school students, but I have never before been thrown into a class with 3-6 year olds to teach. I basically have had no formal training on working with or teaching this age, but thankfully Valerie has the superpower of being amazing with her kids.
Altogether the classes are going well, I like my students, my students like me, and they are learning English. Most of the time it is really fun. There have been many formative moments where I have felt only what I can describe as feeling like an amateur first time parent. Most people in China ask if we have kids, and I say “Yeah, we have like 30 kids at school each day.”
Here is one of the most challenging moments of the school year that happened back in January. Before I start the story of What Would You Do?, here is some fun bonus vocabulary.
Characters = Pinyin = My own pronunciation = literal meaning = English translation
小朋友 ＝ xiao peng you = shao pun yo = little friend = child
雪人 = xue ren = shweh rghren = snowman
幼儿园 ＝ you er yuan = yo are youen = young son garden = kindergarten
My question for you is: What Would You Do?
Here’s the scenario:
It snowed in January for one day. I, and most of the kids, were really excited about it. I took my oldest class outside to make snowmen. No other teacher could go outside with me, which, in hindsight, was my biggest mistake. I violated the Rule Of Three because it was either break the rule or not go outside. We made a snowman on the field and threw snowballs at each other. One student, Cherry, was making a head for the snowman, when my phone alarm went off indicating that it was time to head back inside. So I said we have to finish in 10 seconds, take a picture, and then head back inside. So I quickly grab her snowman head, stick it on top of the snowman, and get everyone to take a group picture.
At some point during this, Cherry started to cry, something to do with her not wanting to use her snowman head for the main snowman. I think she wanted to make her own, but we just did not have the time. So I get the other 4 students to stop throwing snowballs at me for 2 seconds and get a picture of the students. Cherry wants nothing to do with the picture, and then we start to head back inside. I did my attention getter, and we started to head inside. The other students tell me that their hands are getting really cold from their wet gloves so I take their gloves off and say we better hurry up and get back inside!
Except Cherry wouldn’t budge. She was crying more vigorously, and very much not going in. I tried persuading her to come in in English, then in Chinese. I look at my clock, we are already at the point where class should be over, and we still need to head inside and change out of our wet clothes.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
After I get some responses I will respond with what I did.
Thanks for reading.
My wife Valerie and I are currently living in Wuhan, China, teaching English at a kindergarten. You can view her blog over here.