Friday, May 02, 2008

Memoirs of a Teacher (in Taiwan)...

This particular post may be one that I will continue to add random happenings and memories from my year here in Taiwan.

Here are a few things that have happened in my year here so far (beginning with the first semester) that I am writing more for my reference so that I can remember them:

1) Parent-Teacher conferences in September.
These came literally only a month after school had begun. The first conference I had that week was with 2 other teachers here and the mother of a 5th gradeer I was teaching at the time of the year. First of all, I was a few minutes late (not a good impression to make). Secondly, after I sat down and was about to begin taking notes, I dropped my pen on the floor. Naturally, I reached down to pick up my pen. As I was leaning over/reaching down, I fell right out of my chair in the most not-so-graceful-way ever!! My feet were literally in the air, arms practically flailing, the chair fell down with a crash, and great embarrassment was coming over me! And as if that wasn't bad enough, right as I was flailing, my principal walked in. So yeah...that was my first parent-teacher conference. I wish I could say that was my last. I can say that was my last majorly embarrassing one!

2) Dating and relationships.
Now before you come to any conclusions...I AM NOT DATING ANYONE RIGHT NOW (and haven't for several years). I hope to one day soon of course, but not just anyone. Whatever man I date next I am praying it is the man I will marry! So with that clarified, here is what happened back in October (2007). My roommate, Christy, and I were walking home after church one Sunday and we were approached by a young Asian man. I was pretty oblivious at first as to why we stopped walking until the man that had stopped us looked directly at me and said, "I want to know you!" I was dumbfounded. I said, "Who? Me or both of us?" (referring to Christy and I). He exclaimed, "YOU! I want to know YOU!" I was a little flattered and asked, "What do you want to know?" He wanted to know some basic things like my name, what I do and why I am in Taiwan, etc. Then he introduced himself. This is the conversation that took place at that point:
"My name is George. I'm a fireman. Do you want to see my muscles?"
Me: "Um...[nervous laugh], that's ok, really."
George: "Really, I am a fireman. Do you want to see my muscles?"
Me: "NO, really, that's ok, you can keep them to yourself. I don't want to see them."

What's funny is that he was not a big man at all. He was a little bit shorter than I am and he had a small physique, but he was wearing one of those big, puffy winter coats.

Then he proceeded to ask for my cell phone number. Conversation:
George: "May I have your cell phone number?"
Me: "No, I don't know you."
George: "That's ok...may I have your number?"
Me: "No, really, I don't feel comfortable giving my number out to people I don't know. I'll give you my email address."
George: "But....OK."

So I gave him my email address. I really shouldn't have even done that, but oh well. To try to shorten this story...he emailed me that day. It was quite a humorous approach that he took in his email. Here is an excerpt:
"hi, I am George
we met this noon, remember? The moment was great! I guess we have a couple of options here. We could start an email relationship, fall madly in love, sort of bla bla...Then again, maybe we could get together for a cup of tea and have some stimulating conversation and make friends. Give me a call tonight. My number is.... I'm a pretty busy person, and I can't guarantee that I'll be home, but give it a try. And please call before 11 PM because that's when my mom makes me go to sleep. By the way, where can I reach you if I want to call you ten times a day?"

Did I mention he told me he was 30 years old?? I hope that fact made this excerpt more humorous to you as it did to me. He emailed me a few other times within that week. I only replied to him a couple of times answering none of his questions, but instead telling him about Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him. I haven't heard from him since. But I'm ok with that.

3) The Italian hour with the Italian stallion.
In my previous post right before this one, I mentioned a funny story involving my 2nd grade Italian student. His name by the way is Gianandrea (pronounced Jee-ahn-ahn-draya). There have been numerous and hilarious happenings and comments that have come out of this little boy's mouth all year. Like I stated before, he is one of my favorites! I also must add that he is an AMAZING little boy. He currently knows 3 languages fluently (Italian, Spanish, and English) and is learning 2 more (Chinese and Arabic). He's so cool! Here are a few happenings:

A) My first few weeks with Gianandrea were very interesting as I was learning to understand his accent and deal with his speaking out of turn in class about things that had NOTHING to do with what I was teaching. On several occasions he would just blurt out, "Teacher, I have hungry." The way he worded this is completely understandable when you consider the fact that this kid has 5 languages swirling around in his head. I would laugh of course and ask him if he had eaten breakfast, but usually he would reply with a "no" and then give me some random story about why he hadn't eaten breakfast. Obviously, as an ESL teacher I had to correct his incorrect grammar and teach him to say, "I am hungry." I am proud to say that he now tells me of his hunger in a grammatically correct way. Yesss!!

B) I had he and my first Korean student, Jina, write some spelling words on the board one day to practice as well as for a little competition. They were writing words like "coat," "goat," "game," "ride," "made," etc. As they were writing the word "made," Gianandrea proceeds to write "made in China" on the board. I asked him why he wrote that and he replies in his fun Italian accent, "because everything is made in China" and then he draws a picture of a stick figure with squinted eyes (a "Chinese person"). I took a picture of that! Too funny!

He also told me that day that he and his dad went up in an "aircrap" instead of an aircraft. Love it!!
C) Today (5/2/08), Gianandrea and Esther (my Korean student) were late for class. When I asked Gianandrea why they were late as he was walking down the hallway, he said in a matter-of-fact way, "because we were making the human body." (Apparently, they were doing a puzzle in one of their classes I guess involving the human body). Very funny!

D) Some everyday memories with Gianandrea involve his love for music. I often play praise and worship music in the background with he and Esther if they are doing coloring or drawing assignments for me. Recently, he has begun requesting certain songs because he says, "I love too much music" (referring to himself). The top song choice for a while was the song "I Like to Move it" (from the Madagascar movie soundtrack). He still likes to request this one, but within the past week his top choice has been the theme song from the movie "Titanic" sung by Celine Dion. He says this is his favorite movie even though it was so sad. When I asked him if he cried during it, he said, "No, I was very concentrate on it." I wish you could also see how animated he is when music is playing. He lip syncs and dances with all of his energy! It is very entertaining!

Those are just a few memories about the Italian stallion. I'm sure there will be more!

4) The "Morning Routine"...
I mentioned my 3rd and 4th grade boys in the previous post and their love for drawing violent pictures on the Bible verse papers I give to them everyday. My 4th grade boy, Joshua, is one of the boys that draws these pictures. He's a quirky one. Everyday when he comes to class, he is usually the first one and he quietly comes in not making eye contact with me at all. This is what I call our morning routine:

[Joshua enters classroom]
Me: "Good morning!"
Joshua: no reply.
Me: "How are you?"
Joshua: [pauses...thinks...] "uh..uh..fine." or sometimes "uh...uh...I don't know."

One morning he came in and we went through the "morning routine" that I just told you about. But then as he quietly sat waiting for the other students, he turned around and actually spoke to me. This was what was said:

Joshua: "Are you sick?"
Me: "No, do I look sick?"
Joshua: [pauses...thinks...] "Sometimes."
[Then he turned back around and that was it].

I thought this verbal exchange was hilarious! I almost want to use it on my friends...haha!

5) Weekly assignments and tests...

Every week in all of my classes I usually give certain assignments and tests. These usually have to do with spelling. For my 3rd & 4th graders, one of their regular assignments is to write a sentence for each of their spelling words that week, They have 28 spelling words in each list. Because these students are not native English speakers, this assignment makes for some interesting and funny sentences! One of my favorites for some reason was a sentence that Joshua wrote for the word "intrude." This was his sentence:



Every now and then when students are working quietly on something that doesn't require my full attention, I will do a little bit of grading during a class. One week during my 2nd grade class, while Gianandrea and my other Korean girl, Jina, were coloring I was grading the spelling tests for the 3rd & 4th graders that they had just taken in the previous hour. Boy was I in for a surprise that day! As I was going down one student's test checking for misspellings, my eyes were shocked to come across the word "sh*t" (that's right....the "S-word"!) instead of the word "shirt" or something like that. I know it was totally unintentional so I wasn't upset just shocked and a little amused. Then I went onto the next student's test...and as I am perusing down his spelling test words (and might I add this student RARELY spells anything correctly)....I came across the word "p*nis." I almost fell out of my chair! I was like, "OH MY WORD!! What is going on here???!!" I couldn't believe two tests in a row I had come across two very random and shocking words (that I obviously DO NOT like to verbalize, much less write them out!!) to find on my 3rd graders' spelling tests!! Like I said before, I know it was completely unintentional, so it is quite a funny memory for that reason!!

I have been teaching about subjects and verbs to my 3rd graders these past few weeks in May. One of the exercises in their book was to complete a sentence by writing in a subject for it. One of the sentences they had to give a subject for said this:

___________ washed the dog.

Easy enough to think of a subject, right?! Especially after I told them to just write someone's name.

This is what one of the 3rd grader's wrote:

Denial washed the dog.

ahahahahahahaha! Great answer...great answer!

Well, that is all I can remember for now. I know there is more, but I should probably do some actual work since that is what I am here to do! More to come...


Anonymous said...

Love it! Love you!

Anonymous said...

oh...that last comment was from Harry.

Kristi said...

man...I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Musty...hahaha! :)

Kristi said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Musty....thoroughly. wow, haha.

Kristi said...

ahmazing posting, I thoroughly enjoyed it!! :)