Adventures in China

| Mid-term Exams with my ESL classes. |

My teaching experience in China is slowly coming to an end. I still can’t believe I’ve got about 7 weeks left in China, and about 4 weeks of teaching. 

And because of that, I want to share some things that still make sense for me in this non-sense. Few weeks ago, I had to give my students a mid-term. This term is coming to an end slowly, so they needed grades. And while I thought and thought and research of things my Speaking classes could do for their mid-terms, I stumbled into more important things.

And I thought to myself: what do I want to do? Follow the rules and give them a boring speaking test? Or be creative and enable them to be creative as well, and allow them to spread their wings too?

Obviously, I chose the second option. Because school is not about learning from books, memorising and competing for the highest grades. College especially, should be a place where students should be given space to discover themselves and to discover the world. And that’s what I’ve been doing with my classes for the last 7 months. I created a space where they can talk freely, and where they can be themselves more with no judgment from me or their colleagues whatsoever. IF more teachers would do this, the results would be astonishing. I can honestly say I’ve learnt as many things from my students as I’ve taught them. They keep surprising me every day.

So for this mid-term, I decided to have them perform.

Yes, not that creative, but bear with me.

I’ve given them three poems. Each and one of them sent a very important message to the world. I told them to work in groups and put  together a performance that would enable the message of the poem to be heard and understood by the class. The only requirement I had was Passion. Do it with Passion. Pour something in the performance. Let me see you.

And they did. My girls amazed me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t inspired enough to record them, but I did took few pictures.

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They kicked ass. It was a big difference even from last term. They’re growing more accustomed to my liberal way of teaching, but also they’re more comfortable with speaking their mind.

Which is wonderful to witness. I started with 20 girls in each class who were barely able to speak few sentences in English out loud (not because they cannot speak the language, because they’re acing the theory part) to girls who even make jokes with me in English.

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It’s one of the reasons why teaching intrigues and captivates me. Seeing that before your eyes, standing in front of them and being real, talking to them as adults – it makes a difference. It makes all the difference in the world.

And I’m just thankful that they allowed me to be part of that with them. So, so thankful that it will make my leaving very hard. It makes me very sad that I won’t be teaching them next year.

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But before I get too emotional and start balling my eyes out (there’s plenty of time for that), here are the three poems I gave them. I won’t discuss them too much here, because the poems speak for themselves, but also because I’m dedicating them a whole post. This poems and my students’ reactions to them in class today, brought me back to myself a bit more. And I’m so incredibly thankful.

It made me realise how blessed I am to be here, but also that Inspiration is Holy. And it comes to you when you least expect it.

1. Michael Lee – Pass on. Watch this. Believe me, this boy makes everything better. His thoughts make me believe that are still good people out there.

2. Jon Jorgenson – Who you are. An ode to Women. What a performance.

3. Rudyard Kipling – IF. A classic and deep poem. Performed here by Jayme Louis Liardi

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