If you don’t know by now then you haven’t been reading, but that’s okay. For the past year I was teaching ESL at a Taiwanese kindergarten and it has been quite the year. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into! But during the school year I have experienced a whole lot and now that it’s over, we can talk about it…
Anyone who has ever worked with or had children can attest to how rewarding it can be, and I am no different. I’ve always said I don’t like kids, but the more time I spend with them the more I like them. During the time I spent as home room I’ve come to love… most of the children in my class. Most of them put a smile on my face everyday and made going to work not as bad as I thought it was going to be. All of them were agreeable and well-behaved in comparison to other students and classes, which is good. I had my little friends in who if they took the day off I was crushed: I wished their parents told me a day in advance if they weren’t coming so I could stay home too.
One student my little favourite gave me so many hugs but also reminded me often that she wasn’t a baby; but she was just so darn cute thinking about her makes me sad. Another little boy always told me how good, nice, cute or beautiful I was and how he like me as his teacher. I had a few students who were the best translators I could literally tell them to translate anything. There was one little boy, he was a year older than the rest and everybody followed his example because he was that cool guy, I myself looked up to him on occasion. I adored the quiet followers, who obeyed the rules and never gave me any trouble. There were some with big personalities, who tested my patience at times but in general were great.
All the student always wanted to be the little helper and once they learned exactly what I was saying, it was golden. I could sit at my table and have them run the class: turn on the lights, take down the chairs, take out the cups, pour out the water, pass out the books, close the door, hold my water bottle, take out the garbage, show the class the flashcards, erase the board, watch the class while I go to the bathroom, go help so and so they don’t know what to do; oh how I took advantage of them. My class as a whole was a great bunch of playful kids, each and everyone a special and unique.
Learning and Growing
In addition to their personalities, I watched them grow and learn, which was also really special for me. Although I didn’t notice if they were really growing because it was such an insignificant amount when we measured: but supposedly it was happened, yet they’ll always be those little kids I knew and loved. I did see that they were learning though some made great leaps and bounds. From the jump it surprised me how smart the students were I mean they’re 4 and 5 years old and they speak 2 languages. Some even spoke 3, the Japanese kids living in Taiwan, mad respect yo.
In the first semester it was really a struggle with only half of the students understanding what I’m say, and only half of them who are able to respond to me. By the end of first semester, I could see an effort being made by a lot of them to speak more English so they could talk to me, like the others. By the end of the year, everyone was able to share a little something, something with me. They were also learning phonics and how to read, a little early in my opinion, but that’s the game. Again first semester and early second semester I thought I was a failure, because they didn’t know anything. But by mid second semester, I can genuinely say out of 18 students, that 15 of them knew a good portion of the sight words and how to pronounce some phonetic sounds on their own. I feel like a proud mom or something, “like yah I did that” I drilled those words and sounds into their head and I am the reason why your child can speak English, in some cases.
I shared some special, special moments with my students that crack me up. I made them dress as turkeys and flowers for our schools productions. We played tag often, which is really tiring when there are 18 students, you think you’re a fast distance runner but you’re not and they show you pretty quick. All the little time I spent with the girls, whenever I had to fix their hair after nap time. I am no hairdresser so it was usually just a pigtail, but I did a few “Elsa” braids which were enjoyed by the masses and heavily requested. The times I spent usually talking to the boys because they go to the bathroom faster than the girls. The days where someone brought in a cool toy for show and tell, and I got to be a kid and play with it.
Quality Time continued
When they would greet me in the morning and I would take them to the class; or they started copying the things I said, and asking what every other word I said meant. Also when they would tell me something stupid. They learned the differences in my moods and would ask me if I was happy. I usually wasn’t but I would say yes anyway, unless I was really angry about someones behaviour. Or I would go out for lunch and they’d give me hugs and say goodbye, like I didn’t have to come back but I did. The best, was the time I got to spend with them individually, where they smiled and looked happy. I may not have smiled often, but I was happy and I hope they were too.
Support from the Staff
Let me not forget the staff! The other teachers and staff working at the school, were excellent, helpful and friendly. My Chinese partner, is the greatest women in the world and I could not have done it without her. All the other teachers were always there to help if you had a question or concern. The supervisors and office staff kept me informed and handled so many things. They helped me when I first arrived and assisted in setting up the important government stuff. The supervisors always have your back when it comes to dealing with the parents or any problems. The other teachers foreign and Taiwanese, made work a tolerable experience and there were even fun moments too. The students and staff, made my experience working at a kindergarten fun and enjoyable. Everyone was warm, inviting and pleasant they always tried their best, even the students. So with regards to the people I couldn’t have asked for anything more. However, the actual work… well stay tuned.