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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Teaching Begins

Well, I guess I'm a teacher now!

As I write this, I've just finished teaching my classes for this week at Lanzhou Jiaotong University. It's been interesting, encouraging, discouraging, awesome, extraordinarily dull, and amazingly crazy all at the same time.

There are a lot of emotions for me because I'm a first-time teacher. Dull from teaching the same lesson 8 times a week, awesome because of the students, discouraging from the limitations of the book/curriculum, interesting because of the questions I've been asked, and a lot more.

I've got big classes - all around 60-70 students each, so it's going to be hard to get all of them interested and engaged. I can already tell which classes are going to be the most outgoing, which students will be the most interested, and which students don't understand anything I say. I hope to work more with them soon.

I'm teaching non-English major freshmen students. A pretty shy group, all in all. I've taught the first week - I teach 4 hours a day, 4 days a week. One hour of required "office hours" a week, and that's about all. Since I don't teach English majors, I don't have to deal with English Corner! (at least at the moment)

It's been really fun to be at the front of the class and talking about where I am from. It's so easy in one respect - this is my language and I'm talking about my home and my culture, but on the other hand, these are freshmen, non-English major students. I have to talk slower and make sure most of them understand what I'm talking about.

It's also really fun to share funny stories about being a foreigner in China - it feels good to have the whole class laugh and whisper and stuff at my comments. That way, I know they're paying attention. If I say something funny, and there's crickets.....then there's a problem and I need to explain myself haha

I have had no discipline problems whatsoever - it's always quiet, maybe too quiet. The students are smart, but they're shy. That's going to be the biggest challenge: getting them to come out of their shells. That's the big thing about Gansu students...they're just too shy.

Chinese students in general are too shy. They have low self-esteem, and they think they are not smart enough to contribute to the class. But if I ask them questions, they can answer them almost every time. If I can just convince them that they're worth something and that they're smart, maybe we can really open up and have some fun. I've really tried to emphasize this, and I've seen a couple of encouraging smiles and a twinkle in some students' eyes, and that's great. Maybe it won't always be there, but I'm happy right now.

We've talked about movies, music, sports, the Diaoyu Islands, Apple, traveling, and a lot more. It looks like this will be a good year.

I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much in the past week or two - I've been adjusting, preparing for my classes, losing my USB Drive (which gets videos from my laptop to the desktop computer with faster internet. Long story for not using the laptop), and my new addictions to "Inside the Actor's Studio" and "Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza."


  1. Austin! Way to go teacher man! Glad to hear things are going well for you!
    Trevor Middleton

    1. thanks, man! I'm really happy here, it's great! Today, I climbed a mountain, made some new friends, saw some new things, and had a couple of beers. It's such an amazing place


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