Experience of living and working at TianYang Experiment Primary School
-Betsy A Headley


Teaching at TianYan Experiment Primary School has been extraordinary. It has been a year filled with unique challenges and tremendous rewards. With very little previous teaching experience, I have had to learn on my feet, and discover what worked and didn?.t work in the classroom. The English teachers at my school were also very helpful. I tried to create a classroom environment with interactive activities that would provide the students with as much exposure to the English language, as possible. In an effort to expand their knowledge of certain words mentioned in their textbook, for example :C vegetables and zoo :C I brought in a colorful chart that showed many of the vegetables and fruits grown in China, and another chart of animals found in a zoo. I frequently use art, singing, and games in the classroom, to enlist enthusiasm for English.

I have four classes. Third grade students demand the most structure and discipline, but their self-discipline has improved. I expect the students to listen when we practice pronunciations, though some days are more successful than others. All of the students love to talk, but the younger students have a shorter attention span, too. In all of my classes, my style has generally been informal, interactive, and inclusive. I have been happy with the progress of all four classes, and hope they will have the opportunity to have more foreign teachers in the coming years.

I have enjoyed getting to know my delightful students, and have grown very fond of each one. Learning all of the children?.s English names has been difficult, but I have learned many of them. I visit with most of my students on the playground, and in an outside English Corner, a relaxed, informal period, held four times a week, in the late afternoon. Though scheduled to last twenty minutes, it commonly runs forty-five minutes. Children from grades one through six come to visit and talk, ask questions, read with me, recite, and sing many English songs. I often bring visual aids such as, photos of my family and my home in the United States, colorful charts, textbooks, and children?.s books, to trigger discussions. The groups vary from three to thirty students, and children are free to come and go during English Corner. I treasure my moments spend at English Corner, because I am able to interact more with individual students, and from all grade levels.

Communication was at times, frustrating. Last minute changes were not unusual, and sometimes those updates were not forwarded to me. I showed up for class several times, only to discover that my class was on an excursion, or cleaning duty. Overall though, the Chinese English teachers did try hard to keep me informed.

Memories of my year at TianYang Experiment Primary School will last a lifetime. The administrators, teachers, and students have all been kind and helpful. I have learned so much about teaching, and realize there is so much more to learn. I will return to the United States with many amazing photos and stories of my memorable year in China. I especially want to thank Owen and Jennifer Buckland and the Buckland Group for providing my placement here. They have provided support and assistance throughout the year, and have always listened to my concerns, and helped whenever possible. They came to visit my school and check out my apartment and my situation in the classrooms. I was very fortunate to have selected Buckland Group from the myriad placement organizations on the Internet!

July 3, 2004
Betsy A Headley


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