Today was my first day of school. I am officially Teacher Tina.
I had to be there at 12:30pm for a teacher’s meeting, but of course I showed up late because my bus was running late. Anyways, we talked about school policies and got our schedules and class rolls. I have two classes: 2nd graders Monday through Friday, and 5th graders MWF.
My 2nd grade class is adorable. There are four girls and two boys. Ivy, Stacy, Ting-Ting, Ann, Riley, and James. Ivy is very very quiet. Stacy has big eyes and has a face of a teenager. Ting-ting reminds me of me at her age. Ann is very prim and proper. Riley is very energetic, sits in the back of the class, but talks the most and loudest. And his English is really good. James is a quiet boy so far, but I heard that he likes to make noises in class.
My 5th grade class is a bit more intimidating, and there are a lot more of them. These kids are pre-teen age but some of their bodies have developed faster than they expect, so it’s strange to see some of them are already taller than me. This class is a bit more rowdy and harder to control, but I think after the first day, I made a good enough impression to gain some respect to give me some ground for awhile.
You know in Harry Potter where they have the different houses at Hogwarts, and the professors reward or take away points depending on their actions? That’s a disciplining trick that I learned from another teacher, and it works for most ages. I assign the students into two-person teams and reward points if they do as I say or take away points if they break a class rule. The reward is if they gain 1500 points by the end of the month, then they can participate in English Activity Day, also known as Food and Games Day, on the last Friday of the month. If they don’t, then they have to do an extra writing assignment in order to participate. And I will buy the winning team little gifts too. So here’s a question for you: What do 5th graders like? I think 2nd graders are easier to please.
When I step into the school, I immediately have to assume the “English Teacher” role, which means that even though I do know Chinese, I have to pretend I don’t. I am a foreign teacher, and there are Chinese teachers. The Chinese teachers talk to the parents, and if a kid is particularly naughty, then they also are sent to the Chinese teacher. For example, before my first class today, a parent wandered into my classroom with their kid, asking, in Chinese, if I knew where she needs to go. I had to reply in English, “I’m sorry. I don’t know.” And then a strange thing happened because the parent immediately goes, in English, “Oh sorry. You must be the new teacher, Tina.” Hey, I’m famous! The kids already knew my name too. Anyways, my point is that because I look Taiwanese, some of the kids will assume that they can speak Chinese to me. In order to keep their respect as a foreign teacher and the English Only class rule, they must not see me use Chinese at all or else I might lose my credibility in front of parents and the children.
Now that I think of it, I probably use more English than Chinese here.