Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reflection #2

I had a disagreement with Ike the other night about our goal here in China. I'm still not clear on what he aims to teach these kids or why, but for me, the objective is clear: Every single one of these kids, despite their indoctrination, is dying to get out of China and come to the US, at least for a while, and I am here to help them do that. They don't have access to a ton of information about us or how we live, so I want to teach them the cultural stuff no one teaches you about: what it's like to go out to dinner; how to end a conversation gracefully and politely (if anyone knows the answer to that, let me in, will ya?); how to interpret nonverbal social cues; what to do at a party; what to do in more formal settings; what we actually say in the US, and what we don't.

I only have 10 weeks, and I'm too much of a realist to think I'll get through every single one of these topics to my satisfaction. That's OK, though, because I'm going in with a dopey-eyed sense of optimism; I can't stand when people say that if they touch just one person's life, it'll be worth it. I want to help every single one of these kids realize their dreams of going to the US, and make that transition easy. Where's the success fulcrum? I don't know. As a teacher, do you ever really know how successful you are?

As pre-service teachers, we keep hearing that half of us will have quit the profession in five years, due to "burnout." I think burnout can probably be attributed to never really getting any solid feedback. In nearly every other job, you know exactly where you stand in terms of performance, but in teaching, you never get straightforward feedback, and that can be frustrating. I'll let you know in May whether or not I feel like I was successful in my endeavor here.

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