Last week, there were many instances of bad Wifi connection between my computer and the computers of the kids in my program in China; Luckily, the Wifi has been much better this week!
However, with one problem resolved, comes many new problems. It is wonderful that I get to teach in a more uninterrupted manner, but as I try to build a better dynamic with the middle schoolers, I find that some kids were not as willing to participate. In most of my classes, there was about a third of the class that were really engaged with the lesson. One third participated, but seemed ambivalent, and the last third did not want to participate. Of course, I feel that there were ways that the lesson could have been more interesting, but the dynamic in the class seemed to be established that some people could hide and not participate because of bad zoom connection. I wanted to build a fun class dynamic in which kids would have fun learning this new language and enter a classroom full of laughs, but it seemed to be a drag for some people.
Enter Trump; not the ex-president, but a kid who humorously named himself after the ex-president. Of course, in the current climate, it is popular to bash on the ex-president, so I found a great way sprinkle some laughter into the class. I made Trump read the part of the waiter (a somewhat disrespected profession in China, because they are often call out for rudely) and we generated some laughs at the expense of the namesake of Trump. Of course, the child who named himself trump got a laugh out of the situation (and was not hurt) and no political comments were made. This occurrence made the class lighten up and much more willing to participate. I had found something to draw the children out of their shell!
Of course, my work is not over; I still need to draw more of the kids out of their shells (especially for the other classes), and I have to find new and engaging ways for them to be drawn out of their shells. However, this event has given me hope that there are more instances of laughter and learning to be had!