A Travellerspoint blog

Beers For Classroom Assistance & My New School

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

I have finally experienced 'one of those months’.

Over the past five years I have met so many foreign teachers who spend much of their time in despair wondering what they are doing wrong which leads them to believe that they are not a good teacher and have no idea what they are doing. For many this is a reality for most of their school term and as each new day dawns they wake with a heavy heart as the thought of going to each class where they will spend most of their time trying to keep their students quiet is simply too much to ask. They know full well that once they succeed and begin teaching the noise level will rise and they then have to complete the cycle again and again until finally they are saved by the bell.

But the sense of salvation lasts for only a short time as a new class will soon begin.

After several weeks and settling into my new school my assistants began dropping like flies and soon I was left with enough to cover under half of my lessons and that’s when it all began to go downhill. The further downhill it went the higher the noise level rose and it wasn’t long before I was barely teaching anything at all to most of my classes. It’s not that my students were doing anything ‘wrong’ or being ‘bad’ like the students of many foreign teachers I’ve met in the past, they were simply being kids and when you put sixty of them together at grade four level and have no Chinese assistant to lurk in the back ground you pretty much have a recipe for disaster.

I got by though by smiling with the knowledge that I would still get paid and move on to a new school come the new term. But that doesn’t stop those horrible feelings of despair creeping in leaving you drained at the end of each day from simply doing nothing!

One good thing that has come from the past month is the reality of how lucky I have been for the past five years as I have never had a problem with any of my students as all my past classes have eagerly awaited my arrival and have lapped up everything I have dished out in the way of teaching. There has always been a sense of serenity and gratitude from between both teacher class and never have I had to experience some of the horrid realities that some teachers have had to live such as fighting in class and a complete lack of respect towards the foreign teacher.

Instead I have obviously been much luckier than I have led myself to believe.

With me things came to a halt several days ago when upon awakening I had had enough of feeling useless and the thought of getting paid for doing nothing had been eating away at my consciousness for too long and I decided to put a stop to it by dragging the worst of my students to the office by the scruff of his disrespectful neck and I knew exactly which student it was going to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t choose him. He simply chose me every class we were together!

As usual the class begin and within minutes he began making a total ass of himself by disrupting as many students as possible around him. Once this begins it spreads like a virus throughout the classroom and then other not so good students join in and soon the rest of the class (who want to learn) begin arguing with them and what begins as simply asking the bad students to be quiet soon ends in a screaming match between students.

This week we have had tens of students from the Hangzhou Teachers University join our school to sit and observe lessons and being a foreign teacher there is no guessing who’s class they choose to sit in. At the beginning of each class I explained to them that they would be learning nothing from me as each class they were observing came complete with no Chinese assistant and that I had not been able to teach the students anything for well over a month.

Finally THE class came and I gave my worst student more than my usual three chances before opening the door and nicely asking him to leave. Of course he wouldn’t and soon most of the other students were yelling at him to get the hell out. finally he did but on this occasion very reluctantly and as I shut the door he proceeded to kick it back in my face and thankfully I had taken a step back before he chose to do so.

He then found himself being dragged to the office kicking, screaming and crying. Once there he then found himself being tossed from my class never to return. This was questioned and if he did I simply wouldn’t return.

Thankfully a meeting with the schools Foreign Affairs Officer was organised and after finding out that over half of my classes had no assistants and that I had not taught them a single thing for over a month along with the fact that I didn’t’ need an English speaking assistants and just a Chinese face there was a promise of filling each class with any available teacher. When I walked out of that office I felt a huge weight lift and all of the future teaching ideas I had been blocking began bursting through and filling my creative conscious.

To most who are reading this it will sound like such a petty thing but for those who have been foreign teachers and have experienced such classes then I’m sure they will be opening a beer in my name as for most this is a no win situation and they have to spend most of their term standing before a class of up to eighty students they have a total inability to teach.

Instead they spend their time standing at the front of the class shaking their head as the lesson plan they spent hours working on the previous evening silently slips away into the recesses of their mind and their once thriving forest of ideas quickly becomes overgrown with weeds that quickly begin to strangle any future thoughts of creativeness and caring. They are then left with the empty feeling of simply surviving each class and somehow completing the term.

I have only had a glimpse of the above but it was enough for me as a seasoned foreign teacher to simply say ‘fark this, I actually don’t have to put up with this’ and to then set in motion a process to put a stop to it. Imagine being a new foreign teacher who has said good bye to their family and friends, travelled half way around the world to a country and culture where they know no one and can understand nothing and having to deal with the above for up to five months.

Over the past five years I have been dealing with people wanting to come to China to teach along with many new teachers who have ended up in schools where the above has become their reality. They either raise their heads from their pillows in dread each morning until the end of term or sadly pack their bags and sneak away on a silent weekend to head home leaving their dreams behind in a classroom and school who doesn’t care enough to provide classroom assistants.

Most of those I know who have left spent years dreaming of immersing themselves in the foreign culture they made their reality but they felt they had no help or power to change things for the better. Thankfully though some have found me through my blog and I have helped them find a new school thus allowing their dreams end fulfilled.

On a more happier note, it hasn’t been all bad here, my Grade 6’s are totally awesome and discipline themselves without the need of an assistant which came as a huge surprise to me as they are usually the ones who are too cool for school even with an assistant and my Grade 3’s are always more than eager to lap up as much knowledge as possible. One of my Grade 5’s is a complete dream but the other has been as horrible as all of my Grade 4’s and sadly Grade 4 makes up most of my timetable yet until now there has been no assistants provided.

As of a ‘scruff of the neck’ day this week, supposedly all this has changed and I for one more than hope that it has as Children’s Day is fast approaching and for the first time in five years after being approached to help with the festival performances I found myself angrily saying ‘I have no time to waste on students who waste my time and this year I will not be celebrating Children’s Day by watching performances that I played no part in creating.’

Happily the second half of this week (with the help of a lurking Chinese assistant) found us completing a topic that should have taken two lessons to complete yet had been dragged through the mud for the past nine lessons.

So I guess this blog goes out to all of those cocky self important foreign teachers that I meet each time I travel who think they are the be all and end of their school. I have now taught in five schools in four provinces and the fact is you selfless little shits are nothing without the assistant who is made to turn up to your class to help you and who most likely gets paid three to ten Yuan for what you think is their privilege to be in the same classroom as you.

Without their help you would be forced to face your true reality. That of being an alien in a world that most of you couldn’t survive without help!

This beer is for all classroom assistants who provide us foreign teachers with help (willing or non-willing) in all non-English speaking countries. Without them we are not only fighting a losing battle but we are also living a reality that is full of frustration, confusion and loneliness!

To put it in simple terms, we are pretty much up shit creek without a paddle!

The photos for this entry are of the school sports days that finally happened after many weeks of rain. Each week the students came to school ready and full of excitement but were sent back to the classroom due to rain and freezing conditions. Winter is upon us once again and snow has been falling in the surrounding mountains and even Xian city has been covered by several blankets of snow. Others are of my apartment and the mile long balcony upon which I have found several classes of my favourite students painting a mile long painting which I believe is for Children’s Day.

This would never happen back home!

Think of freezing cold days (almost snowing), many art students sent to paint on a meter wide surface, having to squat for endless hours on a tiled surface with no stools or tables and having to paint in freezing conditions. Oh little Chuck wouldn’t stand for it neither would his parents and I’m sure a group law suit would be filed the very next day yet sadly little Chuck and his parents will never know how lucky little Chuck really is.

The rest of the photos are from the Xian Adventure Aussie Brad and I took last weekend along with the awesome bike ride we took upon return.

The Xian adventure was a complete debacle as my hard drive died in my new computer (yes I killed another one) and I took my computer into to get fixed. We rid Vista and installed Y7 and it fixed the problem…for a few hours yet enough for me to grab a bus home. So now that I’m back in Hanzhong it will cost me much less to simply buy a new hard drive that to go back to Xian to have it replaced under warranty.

Add to that the fact that Lou Wei was told on the Friday that she had to work all weekend so I headed back home Saturday evening and Sunday morning found her rushing to Xian so we could spend the day together to find that and I had left the building.

That sucked more than the last months classes without assistants as when you have a couple who spent over two years together who were made to separate due to Traditional Chinese Parenting who then miss out on an opportunity to spend time together for no real reason other than a normal Chinese boss who gives instructions at the very last moment then you have a real bugger of a result. So anyhow, this beer is for the future. There are only eleven weeks until the end of term. With the help of my ‘promised’ assistants they will be totally freakin awesome!

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by the beautiful DIDO The album was the awesome three disk set ‘No Angel’. ____________________________________________________________

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

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Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


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Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


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Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings


Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Hanzhong Beauties My School & Happenings

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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