One of the many reasons that I went into teaching is that there is never a dull moment. No two days are alike and even when you have spent several hours planning great lessons or activities, most of the time, they never go as planned. Many people get stressed out, anxious, or even mad when things do not go as expected, but over the years, I have started looking at these misfortunes rather as fortunes and making the best of each one.
Little did I know that when I boarded the flight for Atlanta back on February 4 that I would still be in the USA almost seven months later. I truly thought I would be home for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, and then I would be on a return flight to China to finish out the 2019-2020 school year. After being gone for over eight months in 2019, I couldn’t wait to get back to some normalcy and continue living my best life, working with some amazing colleagues that I consider friends as well as making a positive difference in the lives of so many fantastic young adults. Well, Covid-19 definitely changed the course of 2020 for practically everyone on the planet. I have heard from many people that this has been the “worst year ever”. I do not disagree that 2020 hasn’t been the greatest of years for many of us, but it definitely doesn’t compete with 2019 for me personally. Although 2020 has had its share of uncertainty, loss, worry, fear, and challenges, life is all about perspective and there has been some shimmer of hope and silver linings to all of the craziness. This is how I choose to go forward into the upcoming school year. Whatever challenges are thrown my way, I am ready to learn from them and do the best that I can do. That is all any of us can do on a daily basis.
As I still wait for my documentation and travel arrangements for my return to China, I know it will be a challenging start to the school year; one in which many of us have never experienced before. I am blessed to have a safe space to work where I can provide lessons for my students. The time difference will be a challenge as I know I won’t be at my best as the night turns into morning hours, but I feel the more organized and planned that I am, the better I can be for both my students and colleagues. Communication with my students, student support services department, and other teachers that I work with, will need to be a top priority on a daily basis. Being able to check-in first-hand with the teachers that will be able to work with my students in person will help me be able to deliver better instruction or provide support for my colleagues.
As I am taking on a new role this year, it brings with it both excitement and a little anxiety. I want to be an amazing teacher, advocate, and avenue of support for my students, but not knowing most of them and starting off the year half-way across the globe isn’t the easiest way to begin building strong relationships. Having experienced online learning last year, I began experiencing a downward spiral of connection with many students. This made me sad as I love them all so much and want to be there for people however I can. It was a learning opportunity for many of us and I know now that using some of the strategies provided by ISB consultants, colleagues, and my previous experience, I know that one of my main goals is keeping that relationship as strong as I can until I return to Beijing where I can make it even better.
Ideally, I want all my students to be as engaged as possible, turn in all their work on time, contribute on a daily basis, and ask for help as needed. I know many EAL students are discouraged from being in the EAL class, to begin with, and have various levels of emotions when asked to practice the four domains of language depending on their level of English. I really want to work on Captivate so I can improve my skills in being able to spark and maintain student engagement. The 5Cs all work together, and I hope that by using my strengths in the other Cs, I will be able to improve upon the C of Captivate. I look forward to my collaboration with my Instructional Partner aka Partner in Crime Deb and vertically within the EAL department at ISB. Working together and sharing best practices with each other will be a benefit for our EAL students as a whole.
I look forward to the learning opportunities that will be available on pretty much a daily basis as we navigate through the upcoming months together as a family.