In some ways, it's wonderful to walk in knowing who is responsible, who needs an extra push, and who understands just about everything I'm saying. In other ways, it's more stressful because I need to show that I'm not going to be pushed around like last year.
Chicken Teacher doesn't give a cluck this time. They know I like reading, they know I'm too nice and I need to make up for last year's discipline issues. I've changed my rules and spent more time testing students on what the rules are. I've also started stamping name tags. I was only able to tell one class about the prize given to the student with the most stamps. My first class was right after announcements/morning exercises and started about 10 minutes late. I'd like to think I'm getting better at putting my foot down. They know one of my rules is "Do your best" so I've quieted some classes by asking if this is their best.
Though it's going to be a bit of work this year to keep up with the demands of earning my TEFL certification and the new assessment requirements that WorldTeach has started this year, I'm feeling pretty good. China has not always been nice, but as I took on this huge learning curve I also feel like I've been thriving. The difference between my first day last year as I anxiously reviewed my skeleton of a lesson plan and my first day today is startling. Today I was a little nervous, but I also knew my students knew last year's rules. The key thing this time would be to make sure they understood the consequences. I woke up early and then slept some more as I realized that I had a 42 slide PowerPoint that covered everything in my outline and that things would straighten themselves out as the year went on. I knew how I would reward individual students, I knew how I was going to do class points, and I knew that instead of my 4 teams I would just use the groups the students use in all their other classes. I probably should have done a full run of my slides since I had a few mistakes, but I saw the lights come on as they answered questions. More importantly, since stamping their nametags is a new procedure I've introduced, they were all curious and ready to participate before I explained how the stamps work because they just wanted to see my name seal.
Not all my students seemed too enthused to see me again. My classes definitely tried to get away with things like last year and flat out didn't listen until I put on the brakes. A few asked why they couldn't have the new teacher. They really wanted him. Another student gave me a hug and said she missed me. It was sweet. She's not my most advanced student, so I have to be careful to speak in simple words but I've always liked how she will talk to me a little or communicate in other ways. One of my students is already asking about English Corner. For as mixed as reactions have been, I’d like to think I did something right along the way and I’m hoping to do more of those this time too. Happy anniversary, Zhuzhou. Here's to a second first day and a second chance to be that better teacher!