November 6, 2013

Monthly Musings: One

Happy, laughing Sandy in my Singapore class.

It is official: I've been in Taiwan for one month. I spend a lot of time reflecting and planning for the future, and I really always have. I celebrated every monthly anniversary in Korea, every semester in university, every milestone. Here is my reflection on my first month in Taiwan.

The biggest victory in this month has been at school. I was initially frustrated, because my students' classroom habits and behaviors did not meet my expectations. Starting my contract mid-semester means that I get whatever the previous teachers have excepted, plus a little sass, and some efforts to test me. My teaching style and even subjects were a big change for the students, and some of them adamantly pushed back. Luckily, my manager, James, and I have been brainstorming methods to direct their behavior, and it has made a huge change. I am, as always, a workaholic, so it is really inspiring to have someone at school who is as creative and inspired to come up with solutions to cope with classroom challenges as I am. I was hired to help facilitate some changes in our school, and I love having a supportive network ready to help achieve those goals. James has also been excellent at facilitating conferences with the parents. Every parent was encouraged to sign up for a meeting with James and me to discuss the new direction we were taking the class in and their student's progress. Quite a few already have, and more will be coming every week. I love that the parents want to be involved, and it gives me a lot of insight into the individual students and Taiwan's culture as a whole. I have never been in parent conferences before, mostly due to the language barrier, but I am so pleased to able to here.

Shocked Keynes during our scent lab in Science. 

If you know anything about my teaching experiences, you know I love teaching Science. It is my absolute favorite, but generally not taught at after-school programs in English in Taiwan. My school is willing to try it out though, which is huge. It is a way to excite kids and inspire them. It is hands-on with immediate results. It incorporates multiple learning styles and types of intelligence easily. It is everything I love about teaching in one class. Luckily, I've been given the books and materials I need to create the science classes and labs I want. My younger, lower level classes have been doing the five senses this month, while my older, more advanced classes are using a Foresman book from the States. It has been a great month, and the excitement over this new vocabulary has carried over to our phonics, conversation, and writing classes. It is awesome to see the kids adapting to the new structures and expectations.

Here's to eleven more awesome months in Taiwan!

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