- My reputation precedes me in classes I did not teach last year. In addition to the classic and expected questions (Do you have a boyfriend? How old are you? Where are you from? Can you speak Chinese? Do you like China? What do you think of China/Hunan/Zhuzhou? Can you sing a song? Can you sing a song now? Can you sing "Let It Go"? Why did you come to China?) I have also had to answer questions about the zombie pig man. Previously, I had one class that always answered "zombie pig man" for a lot of my questions after we learned the word "zombie" for Halloween. I don't imagine that many other teachers get questions about the zombie pig man and I'd never heard of it until I started teaching here.
- Some semblance of the order I've been dying to have in my classes. Students are taking notes, I'm circulating more with my powerpoint clicker, I give them a list of tasks we need to finish today (and that I will not give them an A without finishing), I stand straighter, I'm mastering the "I'm not taking that" face, and things are looking more and more like a real classroom should.
- I'm more actively slamming cards down on students' desks and refusing to take their stupid responses like handing cards back to me without speaking or in the middle of class and making a big show of it "OH HERE YOU GO YES YES YES". No. You take it back now and let it sit on your desk where it belongs. You earned it, my friend.
- For as much I worried about being hated or being unfair, students seem to understand full well why I need to do the things I'm doing now. They've probably had enough of the chaos and my being more explicit with the tasks we are doing ("Good morning, today we are going to...and if you finish everything on my list, you will get an extra point") probably helps too.
- There are still a lot of ways in which I'm inconsistent and failed to take action. This is a mistake during the first few weeks. It establishes that you're a pushover, that students aren't always sure where they stand with you, and will result in the same chaos I got last year if I don't put my foot down now. I can't keep questioning myself.
- A class I struggled with last year earned themselves a C and then a D because we didn't finish everything and I had to wait over and over again for students to quiet down. They got what they earned and I want more from them next time. One teacher says they are the worst class in 8th grade but I have a hard time thinking of them in that way. I know a lot of very bright and friendly students in that class. There's one student who frequently gives me trouble (and has run out of class more than once before I was done) but when I stand by him and ask him to take out his notebook and write down what's on the ppt, he immediately reaches into his bag for his notebook. I wish he'd speak a little more, but it may be that he isn't too confident in his English. I really hope to break up this pattern and to get everyone into learning and working with me.