Teaching is like nothing I have ever experienced before. This simple statement became the over-riding theme of my first week of training.
The initial couple of days were simple enough. Arrive at the Head Office by this time, we will be talking about cultural differences and looking at the broad strokes of lesson planning, etc. And to be fair, the first couple of days at my training school were also pretty simple, observing lessons and taking notes.
The building housing said Head Office
Towards the end of the week however, my nerves began to build. I would be standing in front a pack of kids, ready and eagerly awaiting their chance to drag me to my knees. Or so I thought. As it turns out I actually quite enjoyed it. Although I’m not 100% comfortable with it all just yet, running the warm-ups and later the presentation portions wasn’t half bad. In fact it might not be so inappropriate to say I took to it pretty well! Like a duck to some very murky water.
The kids responded to me, they do seem to enjoy watching the Laowai dancing around and making a fool of himself in the hope they’ll pick up a word or two. They played the games I ran, they remembered the words I taught. (A very proud moment) I managed to prevent the classes from descending into complete chaos, just about. Which suffice to say was an added bonus. Classroom management it seems, and indeed lessons/ lesson planning are one thing on paper, but are completely different in practice.
So to sum up, so far so good. The real test(s) will come in the next day(s) or so, in which I will be handed the reins for a half and then a full class. Total and unbridled control. That’s a little terrifying. There’s so much that could go wrong and it would be all my fault! PMA! PMA, keep those positive vibes. Don’t let them smell your fear.
But yes, it’s been a positive experience, which I am awfully glad about, the idea of working in a job you despise or detest for a year would be abhorrent. (Pretty strong words I know, but they just role off the tongue so exquisitely)
Roll on this week!
Reality struck home on the eve of my flight; one of those holy crap moments, I am actually doing this! Although, to be fair, the emotional farewell I received from my Aunt had certainly pushed me in that direction. That farewell belonged to a series of such goodbyes. The first was a family BBQ, a rather small affair. The next was orchestrated by my Father. A few pints, a pub lunch later and he had excitedly wished me on my way. This was followed swiftly by drinks with my oldest friend (and one much newer), then came my Aunt’s, accompanied by my Uncle and Cousin. Finally this dramatic series reached it’s crescendo with a teary goodbye at the airport; waving farewell to my Mother and Step-Father.
There was plenty of time on the 11-hour flight to contemplate everything it meant to be sat in my seat. All the excitement and fear that was bubbling up to the surface. Or the fact I’d soon be half-way across the world in a foreign land, unable to speak the language. It seems almost strange someone would put themselves in such a situation, far outside the boundaries of what is comfortable. But alas, there I was either a brave man or a fool! Although I know I’d like to believe I am more brave than foolish. What was abundantly clear to me was that I was about to experience a lot of firsts, and to do so I was going to have to throw myself into it all.
After an uneventful and uninteresting flight of deep contemplation and films I had finally arrived, a weary eyed traveler. Here I was, in Shanghai! My life has always fluctuated between a strong direction and none at all. But at no point unt my recent history had I ever imagined I’d be in a place like this. On the other side of immigration, waiting for me at arrivals, were my Aunt and Uncle, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They had kindly offered to house me for the duration of my stay in China, something I am most certainly grateful for. Something, it seems, that has put me in a rather unique position from other people my age setting off on an adventure largely/loosely based on a teaching role. I am lucky enough to have the safety net of family. Of course that is just an assumption based on what I’ve read; my circumstance could be a lot more common place than I know. But that’s neither here nor there.
What is important is that I here, I made it, and it is all about to begin!