My weekend was a real blast!
Yesterday I went to my first piano lesson and I had a lot of fun. Learning the piano is something I have always been wanting to do but I couldn't afford the time in China. My piano teacher is an interesting man with a strong sense of humor and he knows a lot. He said I was doing great and I think I will continue. Hopefully I can play some songs when I return to China.
Last night I went to Norman to attend a musical with my mentor (actually she is like my elder sister now) and her daughter. The show was wonderful! All the singers were excellent and easy on the eyes. The audience were well-dressed with good manners. I love it! Although we went back at 1am in the morning, I think it is worth the five hours' driving and the expensive ticket.
This afternoon we went to a Scottish festival in Tulsa . Although I have been to Scotland before, it feels different here. I enjoy the beautiful music by Scottish bagpipes and the cheerful traditional dancing.
Once I asked an American friend," Why do you keep yourself so busy? Why do you drive six hours to watch a football at night after a tiring day?" Her answer is," Because life is so much fun!" I like this answer, words of wisdom.
On September 12th, I was invited by the Confucius Institute at the University of Oklahoma (OUCI) to attend Oklahoma Orientation for Chinese Language Teachers. I met 30 old friends who got to know each other at the reception by OUCI a month ago and some new friends who are residential teachers in Oklahoma.
The Associate Director of OUCI talked about cultural difference in the classroom and beyond, and then an official of Oklahoma State gave a lecture on PASS ( Priority Academic Student Skills) curriculum for World Languages. Finally a professor and an experienced Chinese teacher from OUCI held a workshop with us. We got valuable teaching resources, like a Pocket PASS for World Languages, books about Chinese teaching and many flash cards for free.
As the Director of OUCI said, “OUCI is your home. We’d like to share your joys and sorrows both in your work and your life.” I really enjoy the atmosphere of being a family. Apart from American Councils, another association offers help and support, which will surely benefit my teaching here.
Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers Association Fall Conference will be held on September, 26th. OUCI has invited and paid for me. I am looking forward to meeting more friends, communicating with more experts and embracing more opportunities there!
Parent/Teacher Conference is held on Thursday from 4:00 to 7:00 pm, and Friday from 9:00 am to noon.
Since I have only 18 students in total, including two new students who enrolled just last week, some colleagues joked that I might not see any parents coming according to their previous experience. However, yesterday afternoon three parents came (not many, but not bad at all). I talked with them, telling them we shared one kid and reporting their kids’ performance and progress and reminding them they could check their kid’s progress by checking POWERSCHOOL online( a system for teachers to check attendance, grade and check students’ information) at the school website. They were excited to tell me their kid liked to show off their Chinese at home and they all said “I love you, Dad and Mum” in Chinese. I tried to contact more of them and am expecting them to come.
In the past few days, I heard too much about difference in culture, education and life style, yet I find regardless of race, sex, age and language, we human beings are the same! We all need peace, care, love, friendship, education and recognition. Keeping this in mind, everything will become easier while getting along with people.
On September 15th, the school held a formal reception for me after I had been here four weeks. All the administration, PLC teachers, my friends and some of my students came. Later I was introduced by the Director of Public Affairs at the board meeting.
After my speech, the two assistant superintendents who applied to TCLP and made efforts to bring me here gave me a big hug. My mentor said , “Good girl, great job!” I was also proud of myself at that time. Here is the speech:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
I’m greatly honored to receive such a warm reception today. I’d like to say “Thank you” to all of you!
I’d like to thank Mr. Garde, Mrs.Venters and Mr. Wilson (superintendent and his assistants) who made efforts to bring me here. I’d like to thank Mr.Bivin (my principal), who went to Washington DC to meet with me for two days. We had a memorable long walk in the city. I’ll thank all those people who donated household items for my nice apartment, including the Fine Art PLC colleagues, who have given me a sense of belonging. Thank my students. Your enthusiasm for Chinese learning has contributed my sense of achievement! Finally, I’d like to thank Penny and all her family. Your love and care have made me part of the family. I have found another home in Muskogee!
All your thoughtfulness and help have created a positive start for my stay here. I really appreciate it. In return, I’ll do my part and make my contributions. I hope my stay here will not only enrich my life but also enrich the lives of others!
I was interviewed for a Muskogee High School TV show called “the Review”, which would be broadcast on the local channel. It was a lot of fun.
At the beginning, both the reporter and I felt a little bit nervous. She had a hard time trying to remember what to ask with the exact words she had prepared in advance. My problem was that I was worried that I couldn’t express myself freely in English. But later, it became a flowing conversation. So I think a good TV show involves a good relationship and enough communication between the host and the guest before and during the show. Plus, how I wish I could speak natural and fluent English like native speakers! I believe I can make it after one year of immersion. Here are some questions and answers I like:
What are your plans for this year?
I have lots of exciting plans. I plan some cultural trips, attending Chinese festivals, producing a Chinese theatrical production, creating a Chinese language show to broadcast on the educational channel, and presenting workshops at the elementary schools.
How is the American education system different from China?
First, American education has more differentiation from school system to school system, while in China most materials are assigned by the Provincial Education Bureau.
Second, American students have more choices of course study. They have core courses and electives. But in China, students can not choose what they want to learn until they are in Grade 11.
Third, assessment is different. China used to emphasize on summative assessment. Here, assessment is formative. Take MHS for example, the final test only counts 20% of the final grade. Each teacher is required to grade at least two different assignments every week, so daily performance is really important. But China is on the way to formative assessment.
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