Last week my boss Ji took my class of Demon Children when I went out with Fresca. The Demon Children, and not the homesickness or lack of hot water, brought me closest to going back to the states. I am not qualified to teach nor am I particularly interested in teaching the under-12 crowd, but while my contract promises me work teaching my desired 13-18 range, it doesn’t actually forbid teaching a bizarre assortment of 4 to 11 years olds, whose English level bears no relation to their age. Tim knows all of his colors that start with R and end with ED. Rebecca wants to know if she can play with my daughter when I have one, or if she’ll be old enough to babysit.
Paul repeats everything I say with prefect pronunciation and almost no understanding. I have to say almost because after hearing each classroom instruction repeated back to me, with zero comprehension, I tried to get him to say “I am the very model of a modern major general” but he must have caught on somehow.
But Apple is probably the bane of my Chinese existence. Her hobbies are climbing on the desks, howling, and taking her clothes off. All three at once, if I’m not quick enough. I’ve asked to have her removed from the class, but her father has something to do with business licensing, and this is China. We usually make it through attendance before she attempts bodily harm on one of her classmates and I send her to the office to be someone else’s problem. I feel a little bad for the receptionist, but not bad enough to keep Apple in class.
When I explained to Ji that the little monsters were driving me insane, she told me how easy the small classes are, that I am not trying hard enough, and she offered to teach one lesson and let me observe. Let the record show that the student-inflicted bruises did NOT happen on my watch.
Since then, Ji and I have an armed truce. On occasion, she will ask me how we are progressing though the textbook or she’ll ask what the homework is. When that happens, I remind her of her verbal promise to hire a new teacher and her contractual obligation to provide a bilingual assistant. I make a vocab coloring sheet each week. I praise and encourage the kids who complete it, while I keep the others harmlessly shredding their handouts. If they remember the new words next week, great, but I’m content if they don’t color on their clothes or stick crayons up their noses. [Ok, so a small marker incident happened when I was meant to be teaching, but in my defense, destroying one’s outfit is fast and silent.]
Anyway, these are the monsters Ji got stuck with last week. The words she taught them were, and I quote:
What? Where did she come up with those? Were they playing I, Spy on Waikiki?
I never laugh at girl students, no matter what they say. It makes them think I’m mocking their English and then they’ll never speak in class again. But in class today, after some surprisingly good behavior, Rebecca was elected class spokeswoman, and after a long nervous lead-in, and she told me they would be very, very good, and could I please not punish them again by sending Ji back again? I practically choked myself trying not to let a giggle out. It was so cute, I almost felt guilty for considering them demons sent from a hell-dimension to drive me insane.