"Everything's just so weird lately"
Today is almost over. I have a break until 14.40 when I have to og to the office and attend an observation of a Chinese English teacher with other teachers. After the lesson observation we have a meeting. I have no more lessons today.
This is the building I live in
I got up at 06.00 to finish my presentation. I’ve been feeling ill for the past days, (caught a cold from sitting in my drafty room and a sore throat) so I have barely any energy to spare. This is unfortunate, because the holiday’s coming up and I want to go somewhere. (Some people here are going to Hong Kong) Our visas say 2 entries, but someone mentioned that the way it’s written means that it’s only 1 entry. This is confusing. I want to go to Hong Kong now, but I want to go there later too! I don’t know what to do about that. We’ll see what happens.
I had two 4th Grade classes and a 2nd Grade class today. In the first class we ended up watching the new “Karate Kid” film after finishing my planned lesson. This time the film was in audible English, so they weren’t totally dependent on the Chinese subtitles.
The second class of the day went well too, but towards the end we played a game. I made a Hidden Picture Game, where they have to guess what item is behind the squares (I remove them one-by-one) When something caught my attention; I went over to the girl crying her eyes out. Someone pointed to her back, where someone had scribbled in pen Chinese characters on the back of her white uniform jacket. I looked around for the guilty face, and someone pointed to the boy sitting behind her. The arguments and quarreling in Chinese left me utterly confused. A boy tried to translate for me, apparently someone (a boy) poked the boy behind the crying girl in the eye with a pen. And he wrote on her jacket? The translator- boy left to bring back a Chinese teacher. So I was left very confused for a few minutes. She came, but she just stood outside in the hallway. She poked her head in the “window” to the hallway and shouted a phrase in Chinese while giving them the look of doom. She just stood there, watching, I was waiting for her to enter to deal with this unexpected, uncomfortable situation. But it never happened. Instead I resumed the game, but the atmosphere in the classroom had changed drastically and it was just an awkward few minutes in the end.
The 2nd Grade class is energetic to the max. Loud and crazy. Nothing out of control, though. I just have to speak a a lot louder to drown out their tiny voices, even though I fully know I shouldn’t do that. But it’s either speak louder or wait for them to quiet down completely, the latter will never happen in this lifetime. Their short attention span is the most challenging thing I face with them. But we did our fair share of work. I tried to vary my approaches and “milk it” (as we were told to in the TTC course) Meaning that we use the material every possible way imagined. I played the Hidden Picture Game with them too, which was a little bit difficult when a lot of students shouted the answers instead of raising their hand- making it hard to give points to the teams. But I can easily get them to raise their hands. I can see the disappointment and frustration in their eyes, when they feel like I’m being unfair (with points). Which frightens me a bit, I don’t want to be labeled as an unfair teacher, I think it’s one of the worst things a teacher can be. But it’s hard to keep up, only chance is to develop some sort of strategy as you go. Which is not easy to explain.
Yesterday night we went out to eat at one of the (2-3) proper restaurants here (Now when I say proper, I don’t mean a fancy chandelier- place) But a regular Chinese restaurant. The alternative is eating stuff that’s basically been cooked on the ground. We weren’t too hungry, so we ordered two dishes and rice to share between the five of us. I started feeling bad on Monday. It has gotten worse gradually since then. I much suspect the diet to have something to do with it. I eat at the canteen daily, at least once a day. But usually I have both lunch and dinner there. It’s a universal fact that canteen food, in most cases, is bad. But I don’t want to spend much money on food during the week. On the weekends I spend a little, but that’s when I have better meals. Anyways, I just hope I don’t stay sick when the holidays starts. We’re working odd days in order for the holiday to happen- I think this Saturday has Friday’s lessons and the upcoming Tuesday has Monday’s lessons. Not entirely sure about that, though.
I got a phone call from a teacher. She asked me "where are you?" "In my room" I answered. I had left because my last lesson was done at 10.55. I stayed in the office until 11.20, then I headed to my dorm to plan a bit before lunch. After lunch I went back to my room. She told me that whenever I leave the school building or even the office I have to report to the other teachers. The teachers must keep some secret record on me or something, because not once have I been told to register my office hours anywhere. They just see me come in and go. Sometimes I'm the first one arriving, so I don't understand the point of that spying system of theirs. I told her that I can't plan lessons in the office, because the computer is old and the PowerPoint is from a different decade. Anyone can access it and read my stuff, which I have proof of that they've done, someone made a "shortcut" to a folder, and it wasn't me. Internet doesn't work either. So I go back to plan in my room whenever I have a free period. They never told me specifically what the working hours were, so I assumed it wasn't a big deal. Now she was talking about my salary and I guess she tried to say that they will withdraw my money if I "show up late" Which I have never done. She said something like "The other teachers get less money if they show up late" Whether they've already done this, I don't know. I guess the money issues with this school wasn't all lies...
I've stayed in my 7th floor room for a week since the maintenance lady told me to pack up my things. The teacher who called me told me about my room. She told me that tomorrow they're putting a wardrobe in my "new" room, the one I so vividly described in a previous post... I HAVE to move the day after tomorrow. I told her the room lacked everything but a bed. She called back and said she was going to have them install a shower. I wish they could clean it... and connect the internet too. I asked about the holiday and working hours. She was very confused when I asked when I had to work. "Our schedule is from Monday to Friday- that's when you work" she repeated this 10 ten times in her heavy accented English. "I know my normal working days" I said. I mean, I've been here for over a month already! I said that Amanda had to work Saturday and asked if I had to do that too. "Saturday? Who is Amanda? Where is she working?" she asked. "We in primary school never work Saturdays, no" she said. Eventually she understood that I meant THIS WEEK. She told me that this Saturday I have the one lesson I usually have on Fridays. This Friday I have the lessons I normally teach on Mondays. Tuesday is the actual holiday, so we go back to teaching Wednesday.
I want to go somewhere, because there's no chance of me staying in the scary room over the weekend. People are going to Hong Kong. But I'm still not sure about how many entries we have, I'm sure it's two, because that was what we were told in Beijing. So the thing is if I want to use one entry now and the last one for my birthday or go again after my birthday. Not knowing when we have time off makes this hard. I know my birthday is on the weekend, though. And maybe I won't go to Hong Kong for my birthday at all, but somewhere else. If nobody want to join me in May, there's no point in going alone.