Yi Chang Primary School

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I will be teaching at Yi Chang for one year as a foreign English teacher.   The school is 3 floors high and is U-shaped.  K-2 are located on the first floor, 3-4 on the second floor, and 5-6 on the third floor.  The school is really big and as you can see from the picture and it has a rather large track that is located right in the middle of campus.  I believe many schools in Taiwan have a school layout like this.  Yi Chang consists of grades 1 through 6.  The junior high school is adjacent to the primary school. 

Warm Welcome

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My first time to Hualien was really stressful for me. You cannot travel from the western side of Taiwan directly to the eastern side because of the mountains.  You have to travel all the way to the north or south to get from either side of the island.  I had to take 4 different trains to get to Hualien from Taichung and I didn't know what I was going to find when I arrived so I was incredibly nervous all morning long.  I had a million questions in my head and I wasn't sure they could all be answered.  When I arrived two lovely ladies, Grata and Ramona, who are teachers at my school, met me at the train station.  They treated me for lunch and helped me with all my questions. I felt so comfortable with whole idea of teaching in Taiwan after meeting them and seeing my school.  I felt very welcomed and I could feel they wanted me to be a part of their faculty and school.   

English Classroom

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I was really disappointed when I found out that I would not have my very own classroom.  It had been something that I had daydreamed about for a very long time.  However, I am now learning the benefits of being a traveling teacher and its growing on me.  I like a good challenge and I think it will help me to be more resourceful than ever. 

The picture shows what the classrooms look like that I will teaching in.  There's a fair amount of English posters and lables in the rooms and there is a small amount of technology available for me to use with my lessons. I will have access to a computer and I have a projector. 

One thing about the rooms that is not pleasant is that there is no air conditioner.  There are about 6 fans in all of the rooms on campus.  Its really distracting and uncomfortable but the children are used to it.  Which means that will have to adapt as well.  I can do it!

I will have co-teachers while teaching English.  One of my co-teacher is Hsu Fang and she is a Chinese teacher, the other three are Noreen, Ramona and Marian and they are all bilingual teachers, which means that they will speak English and Chinese in the classroom.  My classroom in a 100% English classroom.  I will teach with different teachers for different grades thoughout each day.

H1N1 Virus At My School

Last week I learned that my school has been making some efforts to keep the H1N1 virus from spreading in our school.  All students have to take their temperature every morning before arriving to school.  Parents, facutly, and staff must also have their temperature taken before entering school.  Everyone excluding parents must keep a record of their daily temperature.  I have been recording mine for a week now. 

Later last week I learned that there are 2 students in my school that have been affected by the H1N1 virus. They have been asked to stay at home until their temperatures go down and go to the doctor. 

If 2 students get sick and they happen to be in the same class the whole class will be dismissed for at least a week.  All teachers are hoping that does not happen because they will have to give make up lessons after school and in the summer.

As you can imagine I am nervous about the virus being at my school.  I am so glad that my grandmother sent me vitamins last week so my immune system will be strong and fight off any infections.
 

2nd Week English Assessments

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These are a few of my 6th grade girls that I was assessing before class.  After observing for two weeks I found that I wanted to give my own oral assessments so I knew the various levels of English skills that my students have.  The assessments that I have are relly helpful but they take about ten minutes per students.  I am now three weeks into teaching and I have only one class completely assessed.  I have been making time before the first class to assess three students and then again after lunch during break for another thee students.  So although the assessment is really helpful it is taking a long time to complete.  I want to give up on it but I know it is important to follow through even if the results are coming slower than I had planned. 

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My principal, Jong Zao

My Classroom

I am happy with my very own classroom.  My co-teachers come to my room now instead of me having to travel to all of my classes.  And now that I teach 22 classes I am very happy to have a place to call my own and have all of my teaching materials in a set place ready for me to use.  My room has 33 student desks, two teacher's desks, 3 large storage cabinets, a chalkboard, large bulletin board, computer, projector.  I am not very satisfied with my projector, however, I am grateful that I have one at all.  It is not set up in the ceiling like I have ask for so many times, therefore it is located on an extra student desk which I have to move around my classroom all day.  Students trip over the cords and play in front of the lens disrupting my class.  It's been a problem since I got it.  I've been promised to have it put in the ceiling but I am still patiently waiting.  It would make such an improvement in the classroom environment.

Co-Teaching

As a novice teacher I have been giving a lot of thought to co-teaching in my English classroom.  One thing that I have learned so far is that it is imparative to be direct about my needs and wants regarding the co-teaching relationship between me and my co-teachers.  I am a very passive person so I am learning gradually how to be an assertive person.  But, in fact, with co-teaching you have to act and say things as you come across them because the unwanted action could be repeated over and over and could become very annoying or disruptive to your teaching causing your co-teaching relationship to weaken. 

I teach with four different co-teachers and I hardly see them outside of class.  For weeks I had mentioned that we should have a meeting that included all the English teachers so we discuss co-teaching and issues in English class.  But nothing happened.  I finally wrote down a list of all things I wanted to talk about and showed it to the director of the English program of my school before I was taken seriously.  I knew that the teachers did not regularly meet so I thought they just might not be used to meeting all together to discuss things.  I was later told that the reason there had been such a delay is because there might have been some confusion about what I meant by "meeting." The director thought I wanted a formal meeting which is much more difficult to find time for with five teachers' schedules so it was postponed again and again.  After hearing the explanation I went to my director and told her that we just needed to have an informal meeting at least once a month.  So now I know I need to very clear with just about everything or I may find that I will not get what I need or want. 

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Raising the flag ceremony every Mon, Wed, and Fri.
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Boys/Girl restroom
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Squat toilet that I use everyday...The one western toilet is all the way across campus ;(