a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
…of a kindergarten teacher in China
7.00: Wake up. Pray that there is hot water.
8.00: Breakfast at school, always a surprise. If it’s a good day, it’ll be cake and sweet milk, drunk straight from a bowl, Heidi-style. On a bad day, soggy vegetables in some kind of a soup or a weird porridge-like substance.(If you call it porridge enough times, you’ll convince yourself it is porridge).
8.30: Stand at the gate to welcome the children and their parents. Rain, shine, snow or gale. Funtimes.
9.00: Assemble your angels outside in the courtyard for early morning aerobics. Watching a school of tiny little kidlets standing to attention to the national anthem every morning is a weird reminder of the power of this country.
9.15: Time for an education. Art, Gym, English, IQ. Those are my lessons, while the Chinese teacher runs around doing the endless paperwork/gossiping Chinese teachers seem to do.
10.23: Try to stop little Johnny from stabbing Felix with the scissors.
11.30: Lunchtime. Also my duty and the time of the day I dread the most. Trying to persuade 25 5 year-olds to put on aprons while dishing up 25 bowls of food is usually a disaster, while getting them to line up to get their food and then eat their lunch without throwing it over their friends, is mostly futile.
11.42: Try to stop little Johnny from eating Angel’s pencils.
12.30: Lunch is finally over. The Chinese teacher magically reappears and takes the kids off to the nap room while I clean the rice off the floor and the juice off the table. Every day I wonder how I manage to get all the dirty jobs while my Chinese teacher gets to do the paperwork/gossiping. Every day the Chinese teacher checks to make sure that I have wiped all the tables and chairs, put away the lunch and swept the floor.
12.45: Once I have passed the cleanliness test, I have the pleasure of supervising the children napping. Except the minute I arrive they smell me coming and instantly wake up. Putting children to sleep is not one of my strengths, so usually I ignore them until they fall asleep, and that seems to work. Then I promptly fall asleep.
1.15: My lunchtime. Chicken feet soup, anyone?
1.30. Children are so sweet, so angelic when they are sleeping, but when they wake up after a nap they should be classified as tornadoes. Try to channel these bundles of energy towards the bathrooms and help with pulling down/pulling up pants as necessary.
1.35: Try stop little Johnny from urinating on his feet.
2.00: Assist the Chinese teacher to teach Chinese and whatever else these little things are supposed to absorb. I’m never given any plans or warned of any activities and of course I can’t understand a word they are saying, but I play along and sing along and clap along as best as I can.
3.30: Help the children pack their bags and try not to seem too enthusiastic in my goodbyes. Babysit while waiting for the parents to pick up their
spawn children. Chat to little Johnny’s mom about his progress. Try not to laugh/swear/cry.
4.30: Clean the classroom. Await inspection from the Chinese teacher. Wish I had brought a hipflask to school.
5.30: School dinner. Too tired to even notice what I am eating, but it is probably some sort of vegetables, boiled beyond recognition. And rice, always rice.
6.00: Walk home. Hopefully it’s not raining or snowing, though it usually has a tendency to do that when you walk home.
6.30: Drink copious amounts of tea and watch movies with really bad subtitles. Laugh uncontrollably at everything because I am so tired. Swear never to have children. Fall asleep.
The next day: Rinse. Repeat.