Smog has collected over the city. We went to hero mountain for Tai Chi regardless. Our regular teacher wasn’t there, but the other guy, the one with the more hardcore faster Tai Chi, was. After watching us go through our pitiful, half remembered routine, he tried to help us improve our form. The key: strong core, strong legs, and air flowing through your nose and out your mouth. The man showed us how to punch using our core and momentum of our body, and then standing he showed us how to do “cloud hand” starting from the hips. At first, moving his hips, he looked like he was grinding, and I joke that Nate was finally learning how to dance.
Our fill in teacher had us holding a partial squat with strong legs for quite a while, and by the time we left we struggled to make it back down the stairs. We ordered cold noodles from the food street, and then headed for the warmth of the milk bar before we had to go to work.
I had been counting on my boss, who had gotten us plane tickets before at a much cheeper rate, to book our tickets to Jiangjiaji for our travels with Karen and John. This morning we found out that no planes go from Jinan to Jiangjiaji, and apparently our boss can only book tickets to and from Shandong with her discount. My internet wouldn’t load on my school computer, which is often finicky, so I couldn’t search for flights myself. “Tell me what to do!” I complained to Nate, dragging him away from his computer game.
“I don’t know. You tell me when to go and I go, that’s all I know,” Nate replied.
The schools been having us do voice recordings of our vocabulary and sentences. I’m not a huge fan of this because I find that my kids go home and memorize the sentences word for word without understanding their meaning, but it’s not something I feel like complaining about. Choose your battles I guess. Anyways Shirley and I were doing our weekly voice recordings, but we had to give up on the project when I said “sauce pan” in a weird voice that had Shirley laughing so hard that she couldn’t recover. It wasn’t long before I caught her contagious laughter and we were both giggling like children, desperate to breath, in child sized chairs. We decided to reconvene the next day.
We have been learning the house book in my Harry Potter class. “House” is the worst topic in the entire pre-k-2 curriculum. It has way too much vocabulary, which include some pretty difficult words such as “refrigerator” and “washing machine” (which the kids end up pronouncing “washingma-chine”, which makes “washing my face” into “washingma-face” and “washing my hands” into “washingma-hands”). “My house” lasts for ever, and goes through four rooms, each room claiming a unit to itself. I was loosing the focus of my group, and Allen, who had become a pretty good student during the last few units, decided it was his job to eliminate the monotony by making my life hell.
Anyways instead of sitting through another long and boring class repeating too many words for any of the students to remember I decided to take the group on a tour of the school. We had a kitchen we sometimes did baking in, and a “dora’s house” set up that was used for children after demos. I pictured myself leading the kids into these rooms, them all in a nice straight line, then sitting them all nicely down in a row against the wall, and having them call out vocabulary words one by one.
It was mass chaos. The prospect of a tour wound the kids up and they went absolutely crazy. Every toy in “Dora’s house” was on the floor before we left. After failing to control the group, I eventually had to just except the madness and deal with it as I went. There are so many times when I wish I could just speak Chinese. Back in Canada I would always clearly outline expectations before taking a group of children anywhere, but somehow the point just doesn’t get translated across properly when left up to someone else. Shirley is… well outside of class I love the girl. I’ve really grown fond of her after all of the time we’ve had to spend together. However I get the feeling that she is really not meant to be a teacher. She doesn’t seem to like the job, and tries to get away with as little work as possible.