First Day


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Asia » China » Jiangsu » Kunshan
September 1st 2009
Published: November 25th 2009
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Today is my first day of class! It's been really exciting and a little stressful. There really isn't as much structure as there is in the US. There was a opening ceremony for the beginning of school for grades 1-12. Kindergarten wasn't a part of it. So as my foreign peers headed off for the gymnasium, I went to observe some of my classes. First I went to Forest class. It was then I realized that the classes were stationary and that I was the one visiting classrooms to engage the class in English.

I really enjoy Forest class. I had the most time to observe and interact on a one-to-one basis with them, so maybe I'll rotate class observation in the mornings. So from 8-8:45, I got comfortable with the 3 year olds and their early morning routine. We played with wooden blocks, plastic toys, etc. It was easy to see that some kids, like Sam are really energetic and able to make friends easily, and Richard, who takes a little bit to open up, but then lets loose and has fun. There's Sara who tries really hard to look busy, when she actually is feeling lonely. There are Henry and Liam who like to get me to play with them and we end up getting in a falling-tickle war.

I was scheduled for Ocean class first thing, so I went up to the second floor and observed Ocean class for a bit while they had their snack and used the bathroom before we put the chairs in a large oval and I began my lesson. I began with basic introductions and that took up most of the time. "Good morning" "Hello Chelsea" "My name is Chelsea" "What is your name?" and then I would go around asking "What is your name?" They would repeat after me, "My name is xxxx." After going around the circle, we played duck-duck-goose. After that I went to the side while they had a drink break when Jessica came in. She was only a little upset that I wasn't in her class this morning. I explained that I was told, Ocean-morning, Pond-afternoon. Apparantly not. Anyways, so I went to meet a third group of students (each group being between 25-35 students) in the Pond class. Jessica speaks a fair amount of English and helped me out a lot.

I replayed the earlier lesson: introductions. Where Ocean class only had one student without an English name, Forest class had about half a class of Engligh-name-less students. One student wanted me to call him nameless/no name, but then when I suggested "Liam" he seemed to like it. In that class I named Jenna, Michele, Stephen, Liam, Jacob, Scott, and a few others. Some parents already "tried" to give their kids english names and ended up with "Chary-lee" which Paul and I call Cherry-lee, or Cherry and "Atam." The only English mistake I made was that I called Lois, Louis. Ohh well, I'll correct that later.

Later today I have "Baby" class and Ocean class, I guess. I'm not sure. It could be pond. Who knows? If there's one thing I've learned, it's to go with the flow and be patient.
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Well, Baby class was interesting. I think I taught the teachers more than anything. It took 2/3 of my time with them to get them somewhat orderly. One boy, whom I got to name Josh, was the only child repeating what I said, and did so as he ran about the room. Another boy just kept taking the items I was naming. Then there was Lily, so cute, so sweet, so shy. Little Julie gave me a kiss on the cheek before she left with her "mama."

Since I did both Ocean and Pond this morning, the Lao Shi in Ocean, Joanna I think?, told me to "rest." So I took her literally and took a nap and then took the bike out to try and locate this great place to buy plants. Well, I got closer to Suzhou than I did to that plant market downtown. I practically drained my bike battery trying to find the place. It's all good though. I can actually access facebook! Hooray!

Tomorrow: Ocean and Forest in the morning, Lunch, then Baby and Pond in the afternoon. I like this whole free-lunch-hour. This evening I prepared the chicken I purchased. It was plucked and gutted, but that was it. So I prepared it and it turned out very well. There was also some kind of sweet-breaded-pork thing, fish pieces with seaweed, and some kind of oily cabbage thing (I didn't eat any of these... yuck!!). So I found it ironic that the day I make my own meal is the day I can actually eat something more than just rice. Eitherway, it's comforting to have something good to eat in the fridge.

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