I have now officially been a teacher and resident of Beilun high school for a whole week now, and what a week it really has been!
After the first couple of days, we realised just how much we were being thrown in at the deep end. With no teaching experience, apart from the times I tried to teach my friends how easy it was to drink a whole bottle of wine in about an hour which doesn't really count, we were informed that our lessons would primarily be to make sure that the students' English is good enough to pass the exams they must take to get into western universities. We were told that there would be four lessons a day and we would each be responsible for two seperate classes. The pressure was on!
We were given a couple of days to process this scary information and then on Thursday we had to give a demonstration lesson to the other members of staff in our department. This actually went better than I expected, despite finding it weird pretending to teach a class of adults who actually understand everything you're saying. I was given mainly positive feedback, however the main criticism was "You're accent is very difficult to understand". I'm mostly puzzled by this as, coming from the Midlands, I thought I had the most un-accenty accent of all, so I'm trying to make sure I speak very slowly and clearly in order to be understood.
Friday was the first day of real teaching and I thought my head was going to explode with how much lesson planning I had to do. I'm slowly starting to realise that this is going to be a regular occurance and so I'll warn you all now that I might come back with a few nervous ticks or tendancies to start rocking due to all the stress. One of my classes is a class of just nine boys, aged 17 to 19. I was told about this class beforehand about how they were naughty, like to sleep during lessons and don't really like to learn by the other members of staff who laughed about it and said "haha good luck" in a sarcastic tone. I did not laugh. Or blink. Or sleep that night.... However, on friday they wern't too bad. No one was sleeping at least. They did make quite a few jokes amongst themselves in Chinese though and on a question sheet I gave them, every one of them wrote that they think learning English is boring. I really want to make them enjoy it, however it is going to be difficult as I have to follow a course book and so for example, their next lesson is on describing graphs. This even bores me and gives me the urge to scribble on graphs and go on my I hate maths and tables and charts rant, so it's going to be difficult to capture their attention.
My other class is lovely and, although younger than the boys class, their level of English seems better. This is probably due to the fact that they listen in silence and do everything I ask them like perfect students.
We were told on Friday that we have to teach on Sunday which was a bit short notice and caused another head exploding moment about having to plan four lessons in the space of a day and a night. However, this was slighly eased by the fact that at the end of the day we were told to go down the front gate and collect our free grapes....Oh China.
Despite all the hours sitting at my desk, Kat and I have managed to explore the area a bit more. We have walked past some mountains and a river at the back of the school, found a street with at least eight bars on which we plan to sample despite having a 10pm curfew (Nihao greetings are given to the security everyday as step one of our 'get let off the curfew' plan begins), eaten some delicious street food, travelled on various buses for long periods of time which has now involved us twice ending up back at the depot... and today we have been to the beach which is only a short bus ride away, however I did get sunstroke on the bus on the way home and ended up sitting on the floor and leaning very cosily on a man's leg which I thought was the seat. He looked a little uncomfortable when I realised what I had done...
It is now 11pm and I have been lesson planning since 3. Bed is calling...