(Gave all my students red packets full of chocolate)
The semester is drawing to an end before we welcome and the whole country goes on holiday for Chinese New Year. There is something so special about “firsts” and my first semester of teaching in China is something I foresee as always being incredibly meaningful in my life. My students, ages 4-11, have put in so much hard work this semester between the rolling of the eyes and “teacher no homework” complaints. My littles have learned to write the alphabet, blend sounds and read while my older students have learned to crank out five page essays like it’s nothing. I have been told dolphins look like me, pictures have been drawn of me dying by shark attack or explosion and I have gotten all the little squishy hugs. I have learned the art of bribing by stickers, taught them various high-five games to keep them focused and can shut their “bad behavior” with my famous glare. I have assured all the parents that their kids are wonderful and making progress (except that one kid who never does his homework….just kidding. He’s a doll). And most of all I have absolutely LOVED this first semester. I decided to write reflect and write a note to all my students.
(Doing a Chinese New Year crossword puzzle)
To all my fabulous students,
Many of you are used to going to English classes with foreign teachers who have funny accents. However for some of you, it is your very first class beyond playgroups and you are learning a whole new language that often doesn’t make sense. You came into your first classes uncertain, with some tears and wanted me to pick your pencil up when it dropped. Months have flown by and you now love to come to class, learn new sounds, read books and earn your stickers and high-fives. You know the routine and are slaying your homework and classwork assignments. You also don’t tell me your pencil dropped and pick it up yourself. You come in the most fabulous outfits and hair designs. You are brilliant beyond belief.
To my older students, I see the pressure that sits on your shoulders, all your endless activities and the drive to succeed in everything. You write the most brilliant essays about Elon Musk, what you would do with a million dollars and the differences between America and China. You talk back to me with smirks on your face and tell me about your lives. You share things that break my heart and others that make me so happy like your travels to Japan or activities with your family. You are smarter than most kids I know (in America).
And most importantly, you all are kind. Besides the time you wanted to throw a water bottle at me, you are so kind. You bring me snacks, draw me beautiful pictures and give me the cutest hugs. You tell me that you like me because I have long hair and finally declare that I’m a real chinese person after doubting it for the whole semester.
Your parents love you deeply! They care so much about your education and future success that it exhausts you. It’s one of their ways of showing that they care.
Some of you I will have in class next semester, or see around campus with other teachers. Others of you I may never see again but I won’t forget you! I’m so thankful I got to be your teacher.
I look forward to the day that I’ll likely be working for you as you start your own companies and rule the world. You all are a rare bread of super human Shanghainese kids and I will always wish you the best!