As a teacher, students come into your life for a while and suddenly they disappear and are replaced with new ones. No where has this been more apparent to me, than here in China where I have experienced it first hand a couple of times now.My first teaching job in China, was a privately owned public school. I was exclusively a guest teacher and did not have any classes as my own. I would go into a classroom, teach and then leave. My main priority was more towards cultural awareness and having fun, than actually teaching specific vocabulary or grammar points. Public school classes in China are big, as many as 90 students or more in a single classroom with a single teacher. I thought about 20 different classes over the course of two weeks and then start over again from class one, which meant I had just over 1600 students who all knew my name and expected me once every two weeks. Some classes were smaller, around 15 students and they were really nice.
After 5 months my practical experience training was over, and I went to find an actual job which also meant saying goodbye to my 1600 students and the few special ones who I had really kind of connected with. It was tough but they would also soon get a new foreign teacher. The amazing thing is, I still talk to some if the students from my first school and their parents.
My second school was mixed. I was a guest teacher but I also had 4 of my own classes full of Middle School Students. While this age can certainly be tough to work with, I connected with most of my students and I have stayed in touch with many of them, now a year after I left my second school. Some of my students, I taught for almost two years and I know many of them well. But eventually the time came. When my Middle school students all graduated from my schools highest level, I decided to move to Chongqing which again meant saying goodbye to around 1000 students that I otherwise saw once a week or twice a week. Once again, I am still in touch with many of them and often some are asking for help, looking into new English names or just checking on how I am doing. It is incredibly rewarding as a teacher, to have students who are genuinely interested in getting to know you and who make an effort to stay in touch after you have stopped teaching them.I consider myself fortunate, to have students like these, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to the fact that, many of the days where you wake up and do not really want to go to work, these are the students who make you go anyway. At this moment, I have one particular student, where this is true more than ever. At my school, we work only a couple of hours a day during the week, but have very long weekend days, usually from around 9 am until 8 pm teaching somewhere between 6-8 hours of class. My Saturday is full of classes and activities and sometimes, with students who I have a hard time controlling. However, the very last class of the day, is with a VIP student named Mandy, a 10-year-old girl who loves English and is dying to learn more. Even after everything I have done on that Saturday, when she steps into the room she greets me with a smile and open arms and I cannot help but smile back at her, and be excited, even if I don’t know what to do for the next 90 minutes. But it doesn’t matter, because not only is she nice, polite and very engaged, she is also smart and has an incredible level of English for her age. So sometimes we just sit and talk, we go over some stuff in the book and we talk some more. And when her class is over and we can all go home, I leave with a smile on my face, because everything I throw at her, she absorbs like a sponge and her energy and happiness, is contagious.