My students are amazing! I’ve said this many times and will probably continue all year. Here are some examples of what it’s like teaching them: I sing, “Who is sitting nicely, nicely, nicely. Who is sitting nicely, nicely, who?” and they all scramble to their name spots on the floor, cross their legs, face the board, and put their hands in their laps. Their cute little faces make me so happy. If during the lesson something distracts them, and I need their attention again, I say, “One, two, three, all eyes on me” and the students say, “One, two, eyes on you.” They take pride in this little chant and it’s really working so far. I, too, feel very fortunate that we can be so productive with our time despite their young age.
Every morning we go over what day of the week it is, what the weather is like, what season it is, and what the date is, repeating the answers chorally in complete sentences. When I first introduced the concept of seasons last week, about half of the students really needed to know why it is fall time. Telling them that the leaves fall off the trees and it is getting colder is not enough. They needed to know why it gets colder. “Well, so uh, we are getting a little farther away from the sun, ” I tried. They all looked out the window, and tried to see if what I am saying appears to be true. “It’s still shining, but it’s not as close, so it’s not as hot.” This is all very difficult for me to explain, especially to the students whose English is not very good and are barely three years old. So, I begin to make facial expressions and hand gestures to explain that when the sun is very close, we are hot; I wipe my hand across my face and talk about how the sweat drips down our faces, and our shirts get sticky. Then I say that the sun is very close in the summer, pointing to the picture of the summer season. “Then, it starts to get colder, burrrrr,” I hold myself and shake a little. “This is because the sun is a little farther away, and it turns to fall and then winter.”
One of my students, Yi-chen, is especially interested in conversations like this. He’ll repeat it at any given chance. If we are eating snack and someone mentions that it is raining (which happens about every day… knifers or not, taxi drivers in Taipei make a lot of money), Yi-chen will say, “The sun is farther away?” He says it as if it’s a question because he wants me to confirm that he’s correct, but he also wants me to add to this concept; I can tell he’s not quite satisfied with simple answers. I find this absolutely adorable. Here is Yi-chen:
In the photo below Miussia is acting out “hot” the way she’s seen me do in class. Miussia is a very happy, excited girl especially when it comes to kinesthetic activities. She excels at remembering dance moves and song lyrics.
Daniel is very eager to participate and learn. He’s also a natural leader. The students love copying him and following him around. He also loves explaining what isn’t correct or isn’t allowed. For example, if I say we are going to all practice saying, “This is my grandmother,” Daniel will shout out, “Teacher Emily! No ‘sister'” He wants me to say, “Yes, that’s correct, we are not going to say, ‘This is my sister.'” It’s gotten a little out of control, the “No ____” game. When I tutored one of my students after school the other day, we were going over each letter and its sound, and he repeated the sound and then insisted on thinking of a random noise that the letter doesn’t make. I figured it doesn’t hurt and at least he’s paying attention.
Marcus is only at school in the mornings, but he’s very smart. In the background of this photo, a little girl is lifting up her dress, but I don’t think that’s a JumpStart student, neither is the kid on the rocking horse.
Below are Ethan and Miranda, two of the sweetest kids I’ve ever known. Both are very careful and detail oriented. Though shy, they are beginning to participate much more. Miranda can follow directions to the T, like the student who gets not just an A but a 100% on every paper (we don’t give grades btw). Everyday it seems she is becoming more beautiful, too. Ethan and I have a special bond that I cannot explain, except to say that we trust each other a great deal.
Ryan is one of the youngest, but he is very smart. Despite turning three only a week ago, he pays attention to things he creates like art or creations with manipulative blocks. He squeals with delight when he hears a song or rhyme that he thinks is funny.
Below is Kai. His nickname is “Happy” for a reason- his smile will last for twenty minutes at a time. He learned all the numbers (better than my other students) as well as colors and animal names from television his parents said. He has begun to feel more and more comfortable speaking in English, and even repeats English words without me prompting him. I predict that because of his great memory, he’ll catch up to the other students’ English level at super speed.
Below is the most talkative and helpful girl at JumpStart. She’s the most talkative both because she likes to talk and because she knows English so well, better than she knows Chinese. The students are not allowed to speak Chinese at school, so sometimes they are quiet when they would otherwise be chatting away, not Lizzy though. She grew up in America though her parents are both Taiwanese. Her positive, energetic attitude is contagious.
Purple Class Masterpieces and Artwork are hung up on the wall shown below. The assignment at top taught animal vocabulary as well as categorizing animals into one column and what they eat into another. I didn’t attempt to do a food chain idea, figuring they can figure that whole mind blowing mess out in third grade or something. At the bottom are handwriting pages and frog stick puppets with holes in the mouths for their fingers to act as the tongue and catch the attached fly. I’m not that into cutesy artwork, but we have to do something “Ahhhh” worthy to please the parents. This is the best I could do (because we all know all the kids did was color the dang frogs green).