Teaching

Hello Everyone, I must once again apologize for taking so long to write a new post. My only excuse is that I am working full time so I get busy. Plus I have had a bad cold that has left me with no energy after I finish work. I have had a few questions from people about the specifics of my job: what grades I am teaching, where I am teaching, how it works, if I make my own lesson plans etc. So I thought I would use this post to talk a bit about the reason I am here, my job.

Before coming to China I got my TESOL certificate, which is a 5 day course after which you can teach English internationally. I found out about TESOL at a job fair in Toronto last spring, and it seemed perfect for me. It offered me a chance to travel and get paid, not to mention that they would help me find a job and place me with my friends if I wanted. So Katharina, Adrianna and I took the course together a few weeks later. Shortly after that Katharina and I decided we would like to go to Shanghai and we had both signed contracts with Pacican by the summer.

My contract is with a company called Pacican Academy. They hire foreign English teachers and place them in local schools in Shanghai, they also offer private english classes and tutoring. It is kind of good to work for them because they have many other foreign teachers employed with them, (which is how I have met people) and they have the process worked out perfectly in terms of helping finalize visas and forms etc.

I am working at 2 public schools in the Pudong District. I go to the one school on Monday morning, and all day Wednesday and Friday. Then I am at my second school Monday afternoons and all day Tuesday and Thursday. I am teaching grades 1 to 4, averaging 26 periods taught per week. My class is an English emersion class, it is basically fun English class because I do not teach grammar or give tests. The vocabulary and sentence structures I am teaching are usually familiar to them with maybe a few new words and the main goal of my lessons is to have the kids participating and speaking. I am lucky in that I only see each class once a week and therefore I only need to create 4 lesson plans per week. Pacican Academy has given me a textbook that is the basis for what I am teaching in class. The book has vocab for each unit and target sentences so it makes it very easy for me to follow and create lessons around, while still allowing flexibility to be creative with my lessons.

Let me just say that I love teaching! I have always loved working with kids and this experience so far has only enhanced that passion. My students are so good! They treat me like a rock star, following me around in the halls yelling hello and waving. As well they are for the most part well behaved and seem to enjoy my class, one of my biggest problems can be their over-enthusiasm. The main reasons (in my opinion) for this are that: 1) We play games and have fun in class which is very different from their regular lessons, 2) I am different and a novelty, and 3) they are not scared of me because I do not punish them in the same manner their Chinese teachers do nor do I have the same authority level. The English levels of my students vary dramatically, even amongst students of the same grade. At each school I teach anywhere from 3 to 5 classes of the same grade, and the way the system here works is that they have sorted the children into their classes based on their level. So for example at my one school it goes in order: class 1 is always the best class (the most advanced and easiest to teach), class 2 is in the middle and class 3 is the slowest, usually needed extra practice with the vocab etc. At my other school it is not as obvious as the best class could be class 4 instead of class 1 but the system remains the same, some classes are just better then others. This means that I can tailor my activities to the classes level, trying to challenge the better classes a bit more while still teaching the same material.

I have been very lucky in my schools with how the local teachers treat me. They have been so great looking out for me and helping me to feel comfortable getting into a routine with my classes etc. I mainly interact with the other English teachers for the simple reason that they can speak English so we can communicate, but there are other teachers at both schools who can speak and understand some English which is nice. I am fortunate to always have a Chinese teacher in the classroom with me, which helps me a lot with classroom management and sometimes explaining things I have said that are unclear to the kids, and it is a luxury that not all foreign English teachers have. All of the teachers have been very welcoming towards me, making me feel appreciated. For example on my birthday the English teachers at the school I was at that day had a birthday present for me (a Chinese fan) and some Chinese cakes which was so sweet of them!! The other teachers have also been very kind in complimenting my teaching, which is amazing to me since I have only been a teacher for a few months and they have had years of experience. The principal at my one school even told a Pacican coordinator who was evaluating my class that I am one of the best teachers they have had and that they want to keep me forever, not just for the year that is my contract.

Overall teaching has been such a positive and rewarding experience, one that I am eager to continue. One day I was talking with my friend Jacob about our jobs and we both agreed that it is the best job because it just doesn’t feel like work. We get paid to be goofy and play games, which is basically the best job ever!

Otherwise I don’t have any news, not much has changed. I am settled into my routine of work, eat, sleep, and going out with friends. On Wednesday nights I go to Mandarin classes, which are going okay but I still can’t say much in Chinese, and things are still going well with my roommate Becky.

Thanks for reading! If you have more questions or things you would like me to talk about in upcoming posts let me know in the comments, on facebook or send me an email.

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