Work went by quickly today. I was on fire getting stuff done. I talked to Candy about Jason, but as expected the conversation went no where. Candy told me about my new Pre-K-1 class that I would soon be getting so I spend a chunk of my time familiarizing myself with the new material. I practically bounced into Mr Bean class at 4:00pm, greeting each child by name and making them giggle. The children are finally starting to understand that questions and answered can be phrased in different ways but still mean the same thing.
The children grew a little wild by break time, but with four year olds in the mix, and two hour classes, this is not surprising. When we lined up for break there was so much pushing and shoving out the door that I was afraid someone would get hurt. I told Shirley that we would need to talk to the culprits when we returned to the class. Her solution was to punish the children by not letting them watch a movie during break. Other then that the only problem was with one girl Areal who started crying during break and ran to her grandma. She had been fine all through class and hadn’t gotten shoved during the chaotic line up. I asked Shirley what was wrong, but she said she didn’t know. Either way she recovered quickly once back in class (and away from grandma) and we finished up on a positive note. I returned to the office bubbly and full of energy, finally I was starting to hit my groove!
“Candy wants you to wait here for a while.” I was told when I got to the staff room.
“What? Why?” I was supposed to meet Sonya that night and it was already 6:15 pm.
“Well I think maybe she will come down soon.”
Nate waited with me, fortunately his tutoring was cancelled today. At first I assumed Candy wanted to talk to me about a demo or a new class, but the longer we waited my apprehension grew. Regardless I was still on a high from my awesome class, and I told Nate about it while we waited. “She’s probably going to tell me I had too much energy!” I joked.
Finally Candy arrived at the office followed by Sandra (our boss) and Shirley. “You know how I told you the parents had complained, Mr Bean parents have complained now. They say you don’t have enough energy and talk too fast, and look at your CT too much.”
I searched her face for a hint of a joke, but like all Jinan locals her mouth was straight and taunt without a hint of humour. “What?” I wanted to scream did you even watch my class? “I was bursting with energy in today’s class. I was practically bouncing off the walls, and the kids were loving it. And I made sure I spoke slowly. And I didn’t look at Shirley unless I needed to say something to her.” Candy didn’t even seem to listen or understand but instead launched into an explanation about me not being loud enough and the kids not having fun, and me needing more energy. Finally I got out of her that the reason why Mr Bean parents were now complaining was because the parents from Papaya and Beyonce told them Happy English had switched the teacher because I was not very good.
“Candy,” I said my voice strong, “This is not a reasonable expectation for you to have of me. You are getting upset at me for things that are out of my control,” I was livid that I was being used as a pawn to take the blame for their mistakes so that they could “save their precious faces” as the Chinese like to do. They even suggested that I could not teach young kids and should be teaching only the G-1 G-2 level. “If you have any complaints or suggestions for my class please give me concrete and detailed suggestions and I will do my best to implement them. But parent gossip I can not control. What I can do is I can sit down one on one with any parent that has concerns with a translator, and explain my program and philosophy to them.”
“I think maybe we should get you a microphone,” Candy suggested.
“A microphone!?” the spaces we teach in are small rooms that echo and there is already too much noise in them as there is. “I don’t need a microphone. The children can hear me fine, and I am not going to just talk over them. I have strategies that I use when things get too noisy. I wait for them to be quiet before I continue with my lesson.”
The conversation was going in circles. Nate moved over from his desk where he was waiting and started putting in some good words for me. At first I was annoyed, I had more experience in the field then him, and I was completely capable of speaking for myself. But then I realized that in the Chinese culture having a man supporting me could be a huge asset. Things wrapped up pretty quickly with the all woman crowd once Nate cut in. He told me later what really made his blood boil was when Candy started listing “good teachers” and used Jason as an example.
We didn’t leave until 7:30 pm. The meeting had lasted a full hour. Nate had texted Sonya that we’d be late, and fortunately we were able to meet up with her anyways. We grabbed sandwiches for dinner off of a street stand on our way home. Yue is now going by her English name Rose. We mostly just walked around today as they practiced their English and we practiced our Chinese. We’d been invited over to Katrina’s and brought the girls with us. We warned them first about Damian on his ever present hunt for Chinese girls. They thought the term “girl crazy” was very funny. They were very amused by Katrina who talked a lot about beer, and then did a spontaneous singing performance for them. Despite problems at school my friends keep things looking up.