stormy1x2: Ruthie babushka dog (Default)
You know, I had to actually stop myself from writing this earlier. 'Cause anything I wrote was gonna be tinged with an angry red haze, and well, my language kinda hits the gutter and keeps going down when I'm less than happy with the general world.

Yesterday's demo? Went off without a hitch. Which, in my mind, is some kind of goddamned miracle considering it took an hour and a half to coax my terrified kids into coming along. Were they scared of performing in front of 200 people? Well, if I go by their enthusiastic response from the day before, then no. They've done these kinds of demos a thousand times. They've done them on TV, in front of crowds OVER 200, in front of photographers, family members, government officials and foreigners from all over the world.

They were terrified of their teacher. Specifically, their Chinese home-room teacher.

We were supposed to leave at 1:00. I was outside waiting, they weren't. I got a call from  H at 1:15 and she told me there was a problem and she was coming down to discuss it. When she arrived, she told me that the demo was still on, but now the kids didn't want to go to it. Frankly, I was stunned. These kids LOVE to perform.

"Mandy," J added, looking troubled. "Kitty and Happy were crying."

Okay. I stormed past them and headed upstairs with my entourage of office people/ The kids were brought out and we went into another room to discuss what was going on. Apparently, their Chinese teacher had THREATENED and INTIMIDATED them into saying they didn't want to go.

The Chinese staff from the office went first and talked to them calmly. Kitty was sitting off to the side, tears pouring down her face. She was dead white from fear. I told her to come sit with me and she grabbed my hand like it was a freaking lifeline. what the hell happened?

Apparently the teacher had yelled at them, threatened them with negative marks or comments on their end of the year reports, all because they were going to miss her class for the day. And for what? Because MY classes are nothing, because this demo was all about making money for the company, and apparently nothing at all to do with the fact that they are our star students and their PARENTS were THRILLED to have their kids go along.

I was livid. And the office person wasn't helping - using a gentler approach but essentially still guilt-tripping them - "We really hope you can come, we planned this for you, we need you," etc, etc. I cut her of and told everyone to get out. The kids were discussing it amongst themselves, and we - the office - were going to talk to the Headmaster again(who apparently had no idea what was going on) and we offered a private tutor for them to make up the classes they would miss (using my class time tomorrow and on Monday).

I almost left too but  the kids asked me to stay and talk to them. They were scared - absolutely terrified that their teacher would take it out on them if they chose to go. Apparently she said that if they went, they would not be welcome in her class anymore. Emotional blackmail for the fucking win, y/n?

Long story short, there was more tears, many comforting hugs offered, reassurances given, and my personal assurances that nothing they chose to do would ever make me upset. If they decided not to go because of their teacher, then they would stay behind with my full support and blessing. To hell with the company and everyone else.

These kids are under intense pressure and this was just one more thing added to the pile and I could just THROTTLE their homeroom teacher. The parents had given the trip the green light. The headmaster had originally said yes when we told him about it 3 weeks ago. The kids wanted to go. The office wanted it. Everyone was in full support except her, and she punished THEM for it.

The kids had nothing to do with it. WE were the ones who arranged the whole thing. If the homeroom teacher was 'so concerned' for her students as she claimed, she should have made her complaints to ME or the company, or the headmaster. You. Do. NOT. Emotionally blackmail CHILDREN for something over which they have little to no control. Only VERY STUPID PEOPLE do this. And if you are exceptionally stupid, well then, you do it in front of ME.

The kids talked it out together  - a brainstorming session that astonished the people there (H told me later she was stunned at the way they were talking it out together and working out a solution they could all live with. She said she could definitely see bits of ME in their speech (Chinese, but still) and that usually Chinese kids just do as their told, not negotiating like they were) and mutually decided to do the demo, have the catchup sessions with the tutor, and basically stand together against her.

In LinAn they had a good time, they beat the high school students in their verbal tennis match, and their debate was a tie, which made me very happy. I didn't see them today, but I will tomorrow, and I intend to make sure that their teacher hasn't done anything to them.

I can't get over how pathetically SAD this situation is. I had a few teachers I didn't particularly like in high school (especially the one that made the snide comment about me apparently having no life because I like to read history books), but never EVER did I fear any of them - especially at the level I saw yesterday. Teachers were always at the back of my head as a safe haven - if you needed help as a last resort, or even as a first resort if you were so lacking. What I saw yesterday both enraged me and broke my heart.

But you know, as much as I want to drop kick Miss Pang off the side of the school building, a very small part of me wishes to thank her. After what I saw, I solemnly vow I will never, EVER put my students into a situation like that. I will strive not to guilt-trip or blackmail them and will encourage them to always do what they think is best for themselves first. And I will NEVER hold it against them if they are pressured by others to do something negative to what I say or do - at the very LEAST, i want to be someone they can confide in, and make sure they know there is at least one teacher who is always on their side. 

I will be seeing most of these kids in my Saturday advanced class next year, but even those I don't have, DO have my email address. What is common for us in North America - being able to go to an authority figure for help - is something very lacking here. Parents exact huge amounts of pressure for their kids to be the best. Teachers threaten them. The police don't give a damn.  I didn't think much of Kitty coming to me and grabbing my arm as hard as she could - I was upset at the sight of her trying not to bawl in front of the group - but again, apparently students just don't do that in China, and the fact that my kids felt so comfortable with me that they were able to let down their guard (even with strangers there) was just unheard of.

Which explains why teenage suicide rates are still so high here.

I think I still have a lot of work to do here.
stormy1x2: Ruthie babushka dog (Default)
So my life is hectic and crazy enough right? Nope. Let's add in some additional work.

Office: "So we want you to illustrate the new textbooks. We'll pay you XXX amount."

Stormy: "Uhhh... I'm already doing this, that and the other thing."

Office: "What about XXXX amount?"

Stormy: "When do you want them?"

Turns out they need 28 specific sketches by Tuesday. Around meetings, lesson prep, teaching (every day, yes, including Saturday AND Sunday)  AND getting ready for the demo/show this Wednesday, I've been doing sketches for them and yes, I'm posting them here for some feedback about whether or not you can recognize what each picture represents easily. If you can't, neither will the kids. ^^

Pics under the cut. )



stormy1x2: Ruthie babushka dog (Default)
This past Friday, we had another teacher-training demo in Shaoxing, a very old city about three hours south west of Shanghai. This was the second demo P and I were to do, so one would think it would be even more of a success than our first one.

Yeah. Right.

How these demo's work, is P explains the theories of why and how to teach something (don't even get me started on present-continuous what-EVERS) and then I demo games that make it easy and interesting to teach these concepts. Back and forth, that's how it went during the first one, and we had a great time, with a great response. It was fun, the teachers got involved, my kids were awesome, and we got lots of great feedback.

Cut to this past Friday. For starters, my students and I could have stayed freaking HOME for the first hour. P took over the whole thing, talking for almost the entire time, and only asking me to demo a few sentences - not games, just have my kids stand up and repeat back a few questions and answers. It was POINTLESS. Then, for the last twenty minutes, he turned it over to me saying *I* was going to explain the last few things, and then basically sat back and stared out the window (he didn't even pretend to pay attention - I had to say his name to get his attention TWICE).

Excuse me? I have no problem explaining things, but you have to tell me IN ADVANCE. There is a huge difference in explaining teaching techniques to foreigners who speak the same language, and Chinese English teachers - most of whom had never even MET a foreigner in real life before, much less listened to one lecture them. It takes precise, clear and structured formatting - none of which I had ready. I *know* i heard a few in the back going 'xi miensa' (bad pingyin, going phoentically) which means 'What's the meaning' or 'what the hell is this lady talking about?'

And my kids? Did pretty much nothing. it was BORING for EVERYONE.

But let's not stop there. We had planned this to be a day trip. The kids - Happy, Hallen, Kitty and Jerry - had been disappointed that they couldn't see more of Lin'an when we were there last month, so this month, we decided they would get to do a bit of sight-seeing before we headed back to Shanghai. This was planned weeks ago, and we were all in agreement this was a good thing. The idea was to head back to Shanghai at 7pm.

P tried joking about it as soon as we were done lunch - "If you guys (being H, who was in charge)  wanna cancel the site-seeing, I'm sure no one will complain."

Um, I would. So would the kids, and I told him that. So he sulked the entire time we were biked around the ancient city on these little pedi-cabs, grumping and basically ignoring us the whole time. Jerry had sit with him in the pedicab and apparently P wouldn't talk to him. Can we say immature? And P is in his early 60's!

But the final straw? It was about 6:35 when we got back to where the van was. The kids wanted to make one last trip to the little stores nearby. so H and I took them. Then, at about 6:45, we were heading back, when H and I both realized we'd better hit the restrooms before getting into the van for a 3 hour drive. We turned to head back to the restaurant, and that's when P braced himself against the guardrail along the river and screamed at us: "SO WILL WE BE GOING BACK TO SHANGHAI ANYTIME TODAY OR WHAT? LET'S GO!"

The kids froze, thinking it was their fault. I was PISSED and yelled back, 'We're going to the frigging bathroom P. You really think I'm gonna ask your permission for that? Just. Freaking .WAIT.'

Well, needless to say he was pissed off even more, and refused to speak to any of us for the 3 hour ride home. Big surprise.

Look, I get that he has a 3 month old he's anxious to get back to. I realize he has to work the next morning. But damnit, so did I - in fact, I had it worse than him 'cause I had to be up by 6 to be out the door for 6:45 to get to my Qingpu class. And H had to work at 9am too, so it's not like he was the only one who would have a rough day.

AND HE *KNEW* we were doing sight-seeing. HE *KNEW* we'd leave at 7pm. This was NOT sprung on him. In fact, it was supposed to be a 2-day trip and we cut it back to one because he complained. To shout at us like that was like treating all of us as children. Don't you DARE do that to me. I don't give a DAMN if you're old enough to be my father - I am your CO-WORKER, and you WILL treat me with respect.

Usually my conscience gives me a twinge when I shout back at people, but I refuse to feel guilty. He obviously had problems about being rude and obnoxious - I refuse to feel guilty about being rude in return. In fact, we have a meeting tonight about a new demo, and I ain't doing it unless we get a couple of things straight about proper behaviour, how you address issues you have with the itinerary (i.e, discuss it like an adult instead of screaming like a fucking two year old having a temper tantrum), and going over in detail HOW we are going to do this damn thing. I am so sick of his attitude.

(and while I hate to throw my weight around, if it came down to it, it ain't me who'll be let go due to problems working with each other. You've got LOTS of complaints against you P - some of which I even defended you against, which you don't know. Not anymore asshole.)

February 2013

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