A Teacher Has to Entertain Herself

Well, it’s finals week at my university. It’s hard on the students, but it’s also tough on the teachers. We’re all busy; we’re all stressed. Therefore, I have to think of ways to entertain myself and keep myself sane this week.

In my college composition course, our final exam ended up adding up to 99 points. Normally, I would just give my students the 1 point. However, this time, I made them earn it. They were instructed to draw a picture of me to earn that last point.

It was hilarious to watch them when they read that last question. The tense shoulders loosened. The giggles began. And then, as they seriously began their artistic work, they all started staring at me in order to really capture my likeness.

The results made my day.

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I suppose she thinks more of me than her poor drawing skills will allow her to express.

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This is the Asian me.

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That is some curly hair, and those are some big ol’ eyes!

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In the running for my favorite. I am a queen! *flips hair dramatically*

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I think I look like another race in this one. Like my ever-present podium?

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Good ol’ “no nose Ashley”

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Apart from the football player shoulders, this it’s pretty good! (I’m going to have a complex now…)

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I had a LOT of stick figures like this one.

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No arms and no nose, but I love this one.

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This one is probably my favorite. One question though- do I have a tail??

Oh man. I love my college freshmen. Now I think I can survive the rest of finals week.
Be sure and tell me which one is your favorite!

I’m Sorry I Wasn’t in Class but…

Today I received the most epic e-mail since the interwebs have been created. I mean good. I mean I have reached the zenith, the culmination of my teaching career with this e-mail.

I teach at a small university. I ask my students to e-mail me when they miss, so I know that they didn’t just blow off my class and also so they can see what assignments they missed. Today, I received an e-mail from a quiet student, who I’m not sure I’ve heard say ten words since the semester started in late August. He wrote this very formal, professional e-mail. As an English teacher, I appreciate a student taking the time to do that. He apologized for missing class and went on to tell me why he missed the class:

“The reason I missed class was because I had diarrhea.”

Wait! He just told me he missed class because he had diarrhea?!

Did this just happen? Did I really just laugh so loudly alone in my office? Can I look him in the face on Wednesday without crying with laughter?

He went on…

“I’m sorry I couldn’t word that to make it less awkward.”

Uh, yes you could have. You could have said:

-I’m having stomach problems.

– I’m experiencing digestion issues.

-My intestines are hurting.

– I have a tummy ache.

Can we work on synonyms in our next class? At least he spelled it right, I suppose.

Well, I’m not going to work tomorrow, because I have diarrhea. Or just because I can’t deal with freshmen.

Eastern vs. Western Learning and Education

I’ve had a few requests to share what I do to help train teachers to go to China. This is my 5th year helping with this training. It’s the program that I went to China with way back in 2006. They help teachers find jobs in China and train them to go. The training includes things like the history and culture of China, information on living in China, and teaching in China. To be a teacher in China, you need a bachelor’s degree in any subject area. It doesn’t have to be in education. However, in the last few years, many provinces in China are starting to require either a teaching background, teaching experience, or a TEFL certificate. Therefore, we now require all our teachers to go through some sort of online TEFL training that China will recognize.

So, my job at orientation is to give them detailed information on teaching ESL, and, more specifically, teaching English in China. I do four sessions that are about an hour each.

In the first session I teach, I try to help the teachers understand the different mentality between the east and west when it comes to teaching, learning, and education. The difference is quite vast!

For example, the concept of the teacher is extremely different between the East and the West. In America and Europe, the teacher is more of a facilitator. The teacher leads a discussion, as opposed to dominating it. ┬áIn opposition, in Asia, the teacher is “the sage on the stage”. The teacher is the authority on everything and shouldn’t be questioned. That was such a strange concept to me as an American teaching in China. I could literally write the word “kat” on the board and no one would dare correct me.

Americans are very individualistic as a whole. We focus more on me, me, me. In the educational world, this translates to being very competitive in the classroom. In the Eastern world, students are more group-oriented. They work together more and help each other more often. This also translates to more cheating, because they feel the need to help their classmates.

In China, students are most often respectful and polite in the classroom. Students are eager to please the teacher. As we know, Americans are like this when they are very young, but, usually, after elementary school, this sadly disappears.

In the West, students are taught to think outside the box, to do their own thinking, and to challenge existing ideas. Whereas, in the East, students usually memorize, usually take official answers without questioning them, and have trouble being creative in the classroom.

These are just a few of the differences in learning and education between the East and the West. If you plan to go to Asia to teach, knowing these differences is extremely essential. You might try a teaching method or a way of managing your classroom and it just doesn’t work and you don’t get why. Culture affects learning. Expectations affect learning. Learn these differences before you go and teach. These concepts are also helpful even if you teach in the US and have Asian students in your classroom.

More teacher training to come!