Vote for your favourite teaching story


What was your favorite class of all time?
What happened?
Who were the students?
Why was it such a great class?

[color=blue]Describe it and win Karma![/color]

50 karma points for the best answer.
30 honorable mention
10 points for all entrants

This poll ends on January 23, 2003.
Karma will be awarded before Chinese New Year 2003.
Think of it as a virtual hong bao.

And you could maybe post about your worst class, what went wrong, and why. Karma could be earned for constructive analysis of how to prevent such a disaster in future, and it could save some fellow teachers from making the same mistakes, if indeed you feel you made any. If the problem was nightmare student(s), perhaps you might have some advice for others on how to deal with a similar situation.

OK, this is not a class perhaps in the sense that you wanted, but it was a class of sorts for prospective teachers. It is all true and I wrote it in a story format. (And it has never been proofread so spare me the detailed list of mistakes…:slight_smile:)


There's a certain group of people who consider teaching English to non-native speakers as a very serious business. To them it's a real job, an actual profession. I should point out before I go any further that I disagree with this view wholeheartedly. Teaching English is about as serious as deep-sea fishing, only not nearly as enjoyable.

There's a large English language school here by the name of Gram English Institute. They are one of the most visible schools around. They spend what must be a considerable sum on advertising and have a reputation for, if nothing else, their advertising. Their popular slogan is "Conquer English," as if the language were some sort of enemy to be vanquished. Being a "serious" school, Gram doesn't just hire anyone who walks through the door looking for a job. They choose only "qualified" English teachers.

One day I noticed an ad in the English language newspaper. It seemed that Gram was looking for some of these high-caliber English teachers.  So I went over to their office and was directed to come back in two days at 2:00 PM for a meeting of prospective teachers. This was told to me by a Dr. Christopher Bentley who, as he passed his calling card to me, pointedly announced that he could spell his name. I thought this was a bit of a strange thing to say right off until I notice that the printer of his cards had inserted an "r" in his first name in such a way as to add another, rather odd-sounding syllable.

I came to the meeting and found that some of the other hopefuls had also arrived. We were led to a room and asked to take a seat. In the room was a magnificently large oval table with the center cut out. Around the table and in front of each chair sat a very serious looking packet. Beside each packet was a nice, shiny can of Coke with a straw balanced across the top. The more I thought about it the more it looked like the prelude to a high school physical science demonstration or the boardroom of a company run by 12-year-olds.

I immediately chose the seat, packet and Coke closest to the door as I have often found myself in possession of an uncontrollable desire to bolt from a situation like this. Leaving a clear shot at the exit would avoid my knocking over chairs and spilling Coke should an escape be necessary. At any rate, I sat down, leaned back and opened my Coke (discarding the straw I might add). 

As the others began to file in I found myself looking at a man of about thirty wearing, believe it or not, a three-piece suit. (And he was wearing all three pieces, too!) Now this was really serious. I had never seen an English teacher wearing a suit anywhere. The overkill was impressive.

Soon we were all present and presumably accounted for. Bentley came in as did a woman in her fifties (another "doctor" it turned out). 

I should take time out to describe Dr. Bentley. First, I don't believe he was the "doctor" of anything. I have nothing to back this up with other than to say it's the same sort of thing when one feels certain that the woman seated across the bus is wearing false teeth.

Bentley is pear-shaped although he tends to hide this fact rather well. His hair is in that pseudo-stereotypical Italian variety - combed straight back with just enough Brillcream to leave nice, neat furrows where the teeth of his comb have run. His beard is one of those stupid beards - a stupid beard being one that is grown by a person whose face has no business sporting a beard in the first place. Most people whose stubble is uneven and a bit patchy never attempt to grow a beard because they realize that if they did they would have, yes, a stupid beard.

I'm leaving the most noticeable aspect for last. Bentley's left hand is graced with a mere two fingers. Now while trying to stay on the good side of those people who would like to require that ramps be built to everything, I must say that those two fingers (or perhaps the absent three) are a bit hard to ignore. Lighting and holding a cigarette, turning a page or just waving his hand around arouses a great deal of interest for me (as well as a certain amount of distraction).

OK. So Bentley goes through the perfunctories and then we are all, one by each, to go to the front and give a brief biography of ourselves. ("Please don't start at age three," advises Bentley.)

The first at bat is Mr. Three-piece-suit himself. The guy has one of those irremovable born-again smiles that radiates a pleasant vacantness. He speaks with an evangelical tone and I keep waiting for him to announce that his last statement was from first Corinthians, Chapters 14 through 16.

The suit! The suit! He probably wears that damn suit to bed! 

It turns out that he's an insider. In fact, he's already been hired by Gram English in some capacity although what that is never seems to be made clear. He ends his unmemorable bit with, "And I look forward to working with you all." Actually I would be surprised to find that there was anything that he was not looking forward to.

The next fellow was a newly matriculated international business student from Thunderbird College in Arizona. He had a mustache that jutted out like a bottlebrush. If you were to put him in a line-up and asked someone to pick out the college student, he would be the one singled out every time. He had a certain eagerness about him as if he were poised to go to his next class. 

His story (an all too familiar one in these parts) was the one about studying the Chinese language ("to the best of my ability" - a strangely obvious statement) getting a feel for...something (God knows what) and then being hired by some multinational firm of high repute or getting into the import/export business and making millions of dollars, maybe more. Later, during a break in the meeting, he told me what a fascinating challenge it was going to be to try and understand the cultural differences of the Chinese and how a professor of his had said, blah, blah, blah...yes, indeed.

The next future Gram English teacher was one of those men who have perfectly sculptured beards. Count Dante would have been proud. (Count Dante, for those of you unfamiliar with him, was pictured in zillions of comic books advertising either mystical powers (and how to gain the ability to acquire them) or how to use some special martial arts which involved, as I recall, throwing something sharp.

What Count Dante was selling, however, was unimportant. It was Count Dante himself that caught one's eye and, more specifically, it was Count Dante's beard. His was the most highly sculpted beard in existence at the time. Not only was it sculptured but exotic, with points and unusually curvy lines. 

Anyway, Count Dante (or rather his beard) became the benchmark to which all other beards were measured and in some sense aspired.)

So this guy goes to the head of the table. He says he's in Taiwan to study some offshoot cult of Buddhism being, as he was, an anthropology major.

"You mean the ones who live in the mountains?" asks Bentley.

"No. The ones who were just legalized last week," he answers.

What? thinks I. Legalized non-mountain dwelling breakaway cult Buddhists? Personally I thought the meeting should have ended right there.

No one was reading my mind, however, and the next biographer was an Australian who said he felt that perhaps he was in the wrong place after having noticed a book in the packet that proclaimed in large black letters, "American English Workbook." He wanted to study the Chinese language also and revealed that he wanted to make some money teaching English as well. Bentley thought this revelation was the Virgin Mary of honesty and went on for a good minute about what a truly honest man this Australian was.

I was next and for some reason I was a bit nervous. I told them I was a mercenary and wasn't studying Chinese, that I was only teaching to make money and I was just trying to enjoy myself. Then I think I cracked a joke but fortunately I don't remember it.

The guy sitting across from me came next. I couldn't help thinking that I'd seen him coaching football somewhere but of course that wasn't very likely. He was another insider and like Mr. Three-piece-suit I couldn't quite figure out how he was connected with Gram or why he was at this meeting. He said he'd been in Taiwan for something like 12 years, was married and had a kid. I assume by that he meant he married a Chinese woman and had a child somewhere between the two but I didn't raise my hand to question him. He did sort of lose out on making my list of friends when he said in a snooty voice, "Actually I spend more time talking to Chinese people (in Chinese I gathered) than I do to foreigners." I thought that it was rather big of him to take time out to talk to us foreigners right now.

He also mentioned that he taught "only students of the highest level" which meant to me that either he was lazy (if the students' English is nearly perfect there's little actual instruction necessary) or he doesn't have what it takes to teach the low and middle levels students which does take some work. Of course to the rest of the people in the room it meant that if he's teaching at such a high level then he himself must be at a high level as a teacher - a conclusion that doesn't necessarily follow.

The last future educator was a lanky fellow from Liverpool, England. "Dr." Christopher Bentley, in an act of supreme buffoonery asked, "So, how are the Beatles?" I am sure that everyone present would like to have seen Mr. Bentley sentenced to a lifetime of moving heavy rocks in deep snow for this remark. This English guy managed to keep a straight face though and said, "Well, John's not doing so well." 

I have no idea what this Englishman's story was; I had started to stare at Bentley's coiffure and the missing fingers.

At this point we took a break and I used the opportunity to partake of another Coke. Up to this time no one other than myself had so much as laid a finger on their free drink. Surely they must have noticed that I had drunk mine and had not dropped over dead. Perhaps there is some rule of etiquette that I am unaware of that demands the refusal of proffered drinks at this sort of function.

After the break we all filed back in and were lucky enough to have Bentley yield the helm to the other "doctor", Sally J. Bratt. For the next hour we went over the testing procedure at Gram. Why this took an hour is one of those things you understand but would rather not talk about. The whole boring line-by-line explanation could easily have been capsulated as, "This is the test. You give it to the students." What more need one say without stating the obvious into redundancy? This segment of the program was tolerable if only for the absence of Bentley who had gone outside to smoke.

We then had our next and last break. Now this whole time I was marveling at the intensely serious attitudes of the others at the meeting. "Ah, so this is the book we use! Oh, phonemes!" As if anyone in the room had a clue as to just what a phoneme was. "Look! A test! This one is a multiple choice, isn't it? Yes, I thought so." All I could think was how much do they pay and how many hours are they offering. It was as if working at Gram was so prestigious that whatever they paid us was incidental to the very eminent fact that we were going to be Gram teachers. Golly! But the show wasn't over yet. We had one hour to go.

When we returned the cans of cokes (a few had been emptied by now) were miraculously gone and in their place stood, yes, Pepsis. I've thought long and hard about this change from Coke to Pepsi and have come up with neither a profound statement nor a single funny line. There must be something but it escapes me.

As I pondered this, the secretaries came in with little red boxes filled with edible goodies (or so we were told). I had no desire to fill my mouth with crumbly food during this awfully important meeting so I put mine aside. (Later, after I had returned home I found the box to contain a few cookie-like things and a small multi-layered sandwich consisting of, in order: a slice of bread (crustless), some cucumbers, another slice of bread, a piece of hard beef and a tomato slice (as well as a black hair which I discovered while ejecting the tomato slice), another slice of bread, a paper-thin slice of ham and a final slice of bread. There was also a large cake-like affair made from compressed crumbs of what appeared to be broken cookies. It was all so bad I couldn't eat any of it.)

Consulting my program of events (yes, there was a schedule of topics for the day - something like a circus souvenir book) I found that we were now to engage in role-play. "In this section", went the blurb, "you will be asked to participate in several mock classroom situations with participants acting as teachers and students."

The first mock teacher was Mr. Three-piece-suit. The two mock students were the anthropologist and the Liverpoolian. Bentley set the stage: "You are in a MacDonald's in Los Angeles. You (Anthro-man) are taking the order and you (Liver-man) are the Chinese customer. Go from there."

Well, the object here was to have a little spontaneous dialogue and then have the teacher go over it, as with a class. Ah, but Mr. Three-piece-suit needed more information.

Suit: "Dr. Bentley, may I ask what the objective of this exercise is?"

Bentley: "You decide. You're the teacher in this scenario so you conduct the dialogue to whatever end you wish."

Suit: "Yes, but do you want me to stress a vocabulary building exercise or is this more of a fluidity training sort of thing?"

Bentley: "Well, it's up to you."

Suit: "Yes, Dr. Bentley. What I mean, is the Chinese student to practice the technique of ordering in an American setting or is this to be a reflection of the student's structural capabilities, and if so, should I break into the dialogue, as the teacher, and reinforce basal word-blocks in their correct format?"

People in the room had begun to look around at each other with that look that questions sanity.

Bentley: "Actually Mr. ____, I don't care what you do. You are the teacher in this exercise."

Suit: "Right. OK. OK. So is this MacDonald's in an affluent part of town or is it in an integrated area? I mean is the counter person used to seeing Chinese people?"

Bentley: "He's used to seeing Chinese people."

Suit: "OK. Now he's not ordering from the drive-thru is he? I mean he's not in his car or something, is he?"

By now people were shifting in their seats, rolling their eyes and casting disparaging glances at the ceiling. I couldn't help throwing in my two cents' worth at this point.

"Say, what day of the week is it in Los Angeles? Is it raining outside or overcast or what?" I asked straight-faced.

This seemed to break the air of lunacy a bit and Mr. Suit finally got on with it. (I must interrupt myself here to say that the word "cretin" just flashed into my mind.)

Well, Liver-man got his hamburger and fries and then, to the bewilderment of all, Mr. Three-piece Suit went into this incredibly dry and detailed lecture about something to do with the construction of sentences. He was quoting books on the subject, using strange academic buzz words ("conjunctive phrasal verb links") and by God if he didn't wind up drawing a graph! We were all getting a bit ugly and he was very lucky we didn't have any tomatoes and rotting vegetables. How did this man get a job with Gram? I doubt if the Hari Krishna would hire him to pin flowers on people at airports.

Well, lo and behold, who should be chosen to be the next "mock" teacher but yours very truly. I knew that with my experience I could nail this right on the head and by all accounts that's just what I did. 

About finished with my dazzling performance, Mr. Suit raises his hand. "Excuse me, but do you realize that pointing at a Chinese person is considered very rude?" It seems that I had been pointing at the people I was calling on, a habit that during the past year-and-a-half had never been called into question by any of my innumerable Chinese students. I tried to tell Mr. Suit that in the classroom setting it was my experience that pointing was wholly innocuous but, naturally, he was insistent. This seemed like a good time to publicly condemn this man as a jackass, but as I still had some small desire to be offered a job, I decided against it.

Ignoring Mr. Suit and having had enough "mockery" teaching I took my seat again. Bentley resumed his drone about how one teaches English and finally wound things up by saying that we would be contacted in the next few days as soon as a schedule was drawn up. That was it. Meeting adjourned. No mention of money or anything. 

Well, I figured the hell with it. I had my box of inedibles and had downed a dollar-fifty worth of Coke and Pepsi. Not a total waste of time I suppose.

True to their word, two days later I got a call from some woman named Margaret inquiring if I could teach on Wednesday.

"Just Wednesday?" I said. 

"Well... Monday, Wednesday and Friday actually", she replied. 

OK. Now came the obvious. "How much do you pay?" I asked.

This question was apparently not so obvious to Margaret. "Ah...well, umm...didn't Christopher Bentley go over that with you?"

"No. He just talked about the aspects of Gram English."

"Ah,'ve never worked at Gram before, right?"

"That's right."

"Well, we start our teachers at 320 dollars per hour, less tax, of course, and then there's some bonus considerations which...."

"Tax, huh? Well, having been in Taiwan for over a year I know that my tax rate is 6 percent."

"Actually because you're new at Gram, you would be taxed at the 20 percent rate. This would be true for the first few months until we feel we can trust you."

"What? Trust me with what exactly?"

"Umm...until we just trust you."

"What is it I'm being trusted with?"

" see...uh...."

"Listen. I know how the tax structure works here. I've been here more than six months and that entitles me to the 6 percent rate. And anyway the tax rate has nothing to do with where you work. It's the government's tax, you know, not Gram's."

"It's Gram's policy is to tax new teachers at 20 percent."

"But you can't set the tax rate! It has nothing to do with you. It's totally dependent on how long a person has been here."

"It's based on the calendar year...."

"Fine. Use whatever sort of year you want. The fact remains that the government doesn't ask Gram English Institute what rate it should tax people, does it?"

"It's just our policy."

Policy, policy, policy! Jesus! Heads you win, tails I lose. What can you do when they pull out the bureaucratic brick wall? And poor Miss Margaret was obviously only the megaphone for some pinheaded policy wank. What could I say to her? I wanted to tell her to blow it out her ass but settled for politely (always the gentleman that I am) declining their "generous" offer.

I seriously doubt that I'll be getting another call from Gram and quite honestly I hope that I never do. I don't mind working with sods and idiots; however, when they begin to take themselves and the nature of their work seriously, well, I'm afraid that's when I head home, make a cup of hot chocolate and teach my dog to fetch a stick.


Thanks, Wolf, for an entertaining read. If other posts are in any way as good as yours, Alien may have hit the jackpot and deserve the karma instead.

BTW, it’s Liverpudlian.

Very entertaining ! What possible purpose that “demo” could have served beats me.

Love how Wolf slipped in a nice bash against teachers in Taiwan on the way to responding. My only comment is that a good friend of the family has earned his living in the deep sea fishing trade for the past thirty years. :slight_smile:

I have been teaching TOEFL writing for a few months now, about to begin the second cycle. I grade eighty or so essays every week, for eight weeks, making it possible to keep tabs on student progress. Students are college seniors or young professionals. I observed other TOEFL teachers several times, and taught a few years of basic writing before attempting to design my own course. Glad to say that some of my theories on teaching writing have worked out. For example, if you use logic rather than grammarspeak to explain things like use of articles, style, and verb tense, students will usually be able to make the necessary adjustments in their essays. The best part of teaching this class has been the fact that students who begin with scores in the 20th percentile or lower can usually elevate their skill level to a 50th percentile range. Those who have average skills at the outset can elevate their scores to the higher scoring ranges. We all like to see tangible results from our teaching. The fact that several of my students have since taken the TOEFL and scored higher than on previous tests, or higher than on their first essay written in my class, is somewhat objective evidence that what I’m doing is making a difference. I’m not saying I’m a great teacher. In fact, I’ve already made a number of adjustments to that first course, correcting teaching mistakes of the past. I’m saying that I like teaching this class because I can see tangible results, and because I’m lucky enough to teach people who are motivated to learn (i.e. There were eight students in my first class, and most all of them wrote essays each week. When students aren’t motivated to learn, they leave when I am done speaking, choosing not to write a practice essay).

Thanks Wolf I loved every minute of it.

My favorite class was in 1984 my first year as an English teacher. A colleague and I asked our students if they’d like to watch Rocky. Of course they did. Once that movie was finished, we aked them if they’d like to watch Rocky II. Of course they did. When that movie was finished, we all went for pizza. When the pizza was finished, we introduced a few of the students to a herb we just called dope, and headed off to Bronte Beach to catch a few curves and waves.

It was my first day as an English teacher. It was so inspiring I’m still doing it 18 years later.

Just wanted to say how much I thought of your story Wolf. Wonderfully written and highly amusing. It made me forget I was at work for a while.


-Dave :smiley:

Looks like I missed the deadline, being busy with pointless admin crap. I have to agree with Wolf about people taking themselves too seriously. F*** I’m just here to earn a fair living by helping people to at least feel comfortable with English so that they can deal with it if they encounter it in real life at a later date.

Which translates as ‘I teach mostly High School and many of my students are already convinced that they can’t speak English and going to my class is a waste of time.’ Dealing with that is hard enough, without working for an arsehole aswell.

Anyway, I wanted to share this… My first class in Taiwan was at a school that believed in Discipline. I had a co-teacher in the room who carried a big stick which she was very happy to use. The kids were resentful, disinterested, totally non-cooperative - and who can blame them?

After two weeks we had an English recital contest, with students being pulled out at random to repeat a memorised passage in front of a hundred or so of their peers. These are kids who won’t read a sentence aloud in class, and the punishment for failure was severe.

It became a personal crusade for me to get ‘my kids’ through this trauma, to make them believe in themselves. I lay awake at nights, got drunk and agonised with my colleagues about how I was going to get through to them. I sweated, performed, cajoled, threatened (a little bit), joked, made a fool of myself, and pointedly threw the stick which appeared on my desk the second day out of the window.

And every one of my little darlings succeeded! Prizes were awarded, and kids who had been staring out of the window a week before were now grinning at me. Great, but that wasn’t my favourite class. That came later.

My co-teacher didn’t like my methods, and happened to be married to the Principal. Also I was working for an agent who wanted me to be somewhere else. So after the contest I was informed that I had been fired, and my afternoon classes would be the last I taught at that school.

So my fave class was the one where I told my disinterested, rude, teen rebels that they were not going to see me again. I didn’t really feel like teaching anything, and I felt like they deserved some slack anyway so I told them to do what ever they wanted. Every single one of them sat down and wrote me a goodbye letter and (even apart from the sentiment involved) there’s nothing better a kid can do for an English teacher than to voluntarily struggle with a difficult language in order to express him/herself.

I wandered around the classroom helping them find the right words and arrange them in the right order. Getting through some stupid contest is one thing, winning the motivation battle so that your kids WANT to write good English is something else entirely.

I still have the letters, thanking me for making Kelly believe in herself, telling me that Jeff enjoyed English for the first time ever, and describing my co-teacher as ‘a fat rabid old woman, a nervousness, a cow’ Collecting those made that class my best ever.

There, I’m all dewy-eyed now.

tmwc, that was a pretty inspiring story. Reminds me of something Robin Williams said, I thought the purpose of education was to learn to think for yourself.

I know it’s past the deadline, but what the hey …

About a year ago, I taught a 2-month class for the military police (xian-4 bing-1) in Banqiao. The fun part was being driven to and from the class in an MP car with two armed escorts … the looks on the faces of the people on the street when the car pulled up to the corner on the street and the armed MP got out and opened the car door for me and drove off, were priceless … it was quite fun. The class itself wasn’t anything special, and the students’ English was crap. They didn’t even really care about learning … their commander forced them to go … so we did some lessons out of the crap text book that they had, watched some English movies (“Meet the Parents” was one of them, as I remember), and chatted about life in the military in Taiwan (in Chinese). They were all amazingly polite, stood up whenever I walked into the room, and even saluted to me at the end of the class (I didn’t think soldiers saluted civilians, but whatever …).

The students were an interesting mix … some career soldiers, and most were the forced variety. For supposedly being the elite of Taiwan’s army, they didn’t seem too bright … and this was the first class I taught where betel nut was openly chewed during class. They were all quite handsome though …

The most humorous moment was when one of the MP’s (a doctor, by the way) asked me what color my pubic hair was … (btw, I’m a guy … and so was he … strange …)

Anyway, that was my most memorable class …

Alien will have to do some fancy footwork to pay up before Chinese New Year…

Nah, she’s been in Taiwan too long, so she’s done the Taiwanese boss thing and buggered off out of the country to avoid her obligations.

:shock: :shock: :shock: Did I really say that?

I do have more…

(…and thanks for the positive feedback.)

more! more!

They are not exactly about teaching. Probably don’t belong in this section. And they are not all funny. I will rummage around, however, and see what turns up.

I know I am way past the deadline, but I wanted to share my favorite classroom story.
I taught English as an undergrad in college two years before I came to Taiwan. The classes were part of my ESL specialization for my lingustics degree. We were recommended to teach it one time, but I chose to teach it twice. My second class was a favorite class of mine. It consisted of some Brazilian women and their 9-year-old niece/granddaughter, two Saudi brothers who were in high school, a Russian woman, and a middle-aged man from Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistani was my shyest student because he was the only grown man in the class and his wife and 9-year-old son were both in the advanced English class while he was in my beginning/intermediate English class with basically, women and children. Well, the end of the term was coming up and I was just getting Ravshad, the Uzbekistani, comfortable with speaking up in class and volunteering by that point. I thought for my last lesson I would cover storytelling in different formats.
I retold the story of the Three Little Pigs complete with voices to demonstrate fairy tales and asked if they had equivalents in their own cultures and we listened to them tell their stories in English. Then I did an African folktale that I learned from a beautiful storybook given to me by my great-great-grand-aunt when I was 8 years old of why the dog chases the cat. Some other students shared folk tales from their cultures. I recited the fable about the ant and the grasshopper. I asked the students if they had any stories from their cultures. Ravshad timidly raised his hand and got up in front of the class and retold a wonderful story that was similar to the ant and the grasshopper. He struggled a little with the English, but he tried and I was so proud of him. Then I did a ghost story legend about my college town so they could relate to it. I passed out buckets and cans to act as drums for them to play everytime they heard the words “Indian or curse”, turned out the lights, and used a flashlight to highlight my silhouette and acted out the story. The first time, they tapped out varied rhythms, but the second time, Mohammed, the older Saudi brother set this rhythm out (which I can still tap out today) and everyone followed it. Even Ravshad played on his bucket. When I finished the legend, they all clapped and came up to give me a hug and we took some pictures. It was by far my favorite class moment. Now I am a little more weathered at teaching English having more experience, but no class has ever compared to that one.
Of course, I have had great moments, like one of my little guys when we were working on numbers in English, proceeded to give me a lesson on how to pronounce 7-11:

“No, no no. No ‘seven’. You say ‘se’”
I repeat “se”
“Good, teacher. Now you say ‘seven eleven’. No ‘seven eight’. Is ‘seven eleven’. Right?”

I was laughing too hard at this four-year-old’s diligence in teaching me how to say 7 the “right” way to try to inform him the difference between counting and the name of a convenience store. He had the whole repeat-after-me thing down pat despite his low level of English. Funnily, he recognizes the number 7 and the word “eleven”, but not the word “seven” and the number 11.

My vote goes to Wolf for making me laugh the whole way through, but ImaniOU, I loved your favorite class moment–if you could have such a fun class with adults, I’ll bet you’re an awesome teacher with kids!


Any more ? What about classes that went badly ?

I think I might have that as well. I came to Taiwan on a Friday afternoon, hot and muggy as only an August in Taipei could be. I had already all but signed a contract with a school from overseas and went in to see the school on Saturday where I confirmed that I would begin teaching. I should have foreseen how things would go because when I went to draw a sunny picture on the whiteboard to welcome the families, I used a permanent marker because I couldn’t read the characters on it and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to erase it…fun way to spend your first 24 hours in Taiwan. Anyways, Monday came along and I waited to greet my young students (almost all of them 3 years old). The first ones came in and completely ignored me. A little girl came in crying and screaming and then vomited from crying so hard. She had a decent-sized breakfast. While trying to clean her up and keep the now hyperactive kids from running through it and screaming and crying, I tried to think of what to do next. I had no idea how to write a lesson plan for preschoolers and was planning on doing “If you’re happy and you know it” at circle time which was 30 minutes past by the time I realized what time it was. Finally I released the children into the recess room since we were 15 minutes late for recess. One of the little girls, this absolutely adorable tiny thing, was still crying and my teaching assistant was trying to remind her that her mother would be coming for her at 11 when it was go-home time. I, thinking that I was teacher extraordinaire after my final ESL class in the US (the one mentioned above) as well as my charm over children, waved and smiled at her. She screamed and burst into tears again. Then at the end of recess one girl had a fit and refused to come to the carpet for go-home time. A boy knocked over the collage materials and then played come-and-get-me around a circular table before sprinting out of the classroom. Another girl started singing “Someday, my prince will come” over and over from the end of recess until she walked out the door. The kids barely had time to eat their snack and then laughed at me because I was “heiren” and kept trying to touch my breasts calling them nei nei. No activities got accomplished, a few of them were leaving still in tears, and not one of them wanted to say goodbye to me. This was all in a span of 2-1/2 hours from 9 am to 11:30 am. All I could think at that point was “And I have to do this how many more times?”
Then my afternoon buxiban class with 1st graders came along. I tried to play get to know you games, but the kids were not interested and decided they would rather play with the preschool toys in the classroom than listen to me. I told them no and tried to make them do some book work, then finally gave up and let them play with the toys. Just before I set them loose to go home, one of the boys grabbed my breast and ran off. My principal called me into her office the next morning and told me that one of the parents called in because her son’s chair had been pulled out from under him and made him fall. Among all of the chaos I had no idea that it happened let alone who did it. That night I went home and cried, and then after I ran out of tears, I plotted how much money I still had left in my checking account to pay the penalty for bumping up my “return” flight to the next day and take advantage of the fact that I was living in a hotel and my suitcases were still packed. I never did bump up my flight and now I am completing my second year at the school, have signed up for a third year next school year, and adore the children that I taught for my first preschool class in Taiwan who still to this day come to me and tell me how much they love me.