John left early in the morning to go on his planned farm tour, so we rolled out of bed to say goodbye. He would meet Karen in Beijing afterwards. The rest of us had been looking forward to nice hot showers, but when we tried to turn on the taps nothing came out! We ended up having to go out dirty and greasy to get Karen’s train tickets to Beijing. It was sad to see my siblings go, and even sadder to have to return to reality.
The kindergarten was chaos. Sandra was supposed to have prepared today’s lessons, but she hadn’t. Also the times had all been switched around while we were gone, so the teachers weren’t ready for us when we showed up at their door. The kids were actually good for once though! I had fun starting up an impromptu “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in my first class, that was covering bugs. Winging it isn’t all bad!
Surprisingly things only got better from there! Sandra managed to find a bubble wand for my youngest classes, and we blew bubbles in the last few minutes of class. It was great fun, and I handed the wound up kids back to their regular teachers with just a inkling of satisfaction.These were teachers were supposed to be helping with discipline and class control, while Sandra and I came in and put on an English presentation of sorts. Instead, all semester, the teachers had treated our visit as a break, and had sat in corner of the classroom surfing the internet, letting their students grow more and more out of control.
The first class with bubbles was a little crazy as Sandra brought the bubbles out with 5 minutes left of class, and things got a bit crazy (it was just a bit too much time to do bubbles for). Teaching with Sandra has been an uphill climb, she was brand new when I started working with her, and never seemed to know what to do. She would stand quietly in the corner, not responding to my, probably too abrasive for the culture, directions, as I grew more and more frustrated (as the regular teachers of the class were too busy on WeChat to step in), feeling like the only teacher in a class of 32 students, with whom I didn’t even share a language.
I was surprised when Sandra fixed her mistake in the next class! Even more so when I started going around the circle asking individual children questions, and she followed suit, going the other way round the circle as smoothly as Melissa would have managed it! AMAZING! It seemed like something had clicked while I was away and she’d been magically transformed from a bi-stander to a teacher!