After packing for our trip to Beijing Saturday night, we had been late getting to bed. Saturday had been a long day, and Sunday would prove to be even longer. Because of my success in Minions Class decorating our classroom doors, I figured I would repeat the activity with my Pineapple Class today. Recently the drama has increased in my Pineapple class with a change of Chinese teachers, and the introduction of a new student. It does not take much to upset classroom dynamics.
Hannah is my Chinese teacher for Harry Potter Class, as well as Pineapple. The two classes take place back to back. Hannah is the lucky woman who gets to answer all of the parent’s questions, so it is not uncommon that I find myself a few minutes into class before she manages to escape the attention of well meaning parents. Today was a particularly special situation, as Harry Potter class is graduating for Level P 2 to the K 1 level class. I was not surprised to find myself halfway through the warmup with no sign of Hannah, but as I inevitably launched into my lesson plan when ten minutes had gone by without any sign of her I found myself treading in deep water. Hannah usually acts as a one-on-one support worker with the new student, Louis. Louis has had a lot of difficulty making friends in my class. He seems to blame most of this on the other students, and I am sympathetic to his cause, as my class is a very tight knit group. However I have a suspicion that his hitting spells (once using a metal water bottle) might have more to do with his lack of friends.
I was about to loose my nerve, when in trundles Hannah 20 minutes after the start of class. At this point, with a wild group of students, already worked up from the rough start to class, it would have been wise to forget about the monster doors, and focus only on the lesson material for the day. I did not make this wise choice. Within five minutes of splitting into groups and handing out the construction paper Bob and Sam run out of the class and took off screaming down the hallway, then when they returned Louis pushed Sam to the ground. My classroom floor was beginning to gain a thicker and thicker layer of confetti. I ended up shutting the whole activity down and spending the remainder of the class talking to the children about respect and privilege (with Hannah as a translator).
My new class, which is called Penguin Class, started today. At the moment there are only four children in the group, and they are 3-4 years old. I brought my collection of stuffed animal buddies to the room with me. I usually bring them to the first few classes with really young children as it helps some of the little one to have something fluffy to hug. Some of the children meet foreigners for the first time in our Happy English classrooms, and apparently we’re pretty scary looking! I had one girl crying all class, but the other three seemed pretty cheerful.
The train to Beijing was full so we had to buy standing tickets. This wasn’t too bad, what was worse was the line up for the cabs! There were some men hanging around the line and bugging all of the foreigners, telling them they’d give them a ride for a very high price. It was well into the early hours of the morning before we were able to get to our hostel.
There we were, at 2:00 am, trying to check into our room. The woman at the front desk seemed very confused. She said we’d booked both a double room and a dorm! I felt back causing so much confusion in the middle of the night, but the woman at the front desk was amazing. She apologized for the mistake, and offered us the double for the price of the dorm!
The hostel had been a bit difficult to find, as it is located down a long sketchy looking alley, but we were beginning to realized we’d found a wonderful hidden gem. The building had history, in the past it had been a brothel! It was a gorgeous place with long hallways and many doors, and a chill bar full of cushions.