expat · teaching · TEFL

A Day in the Life of a Preschool Teacher

4/14/17

Thursday was a trying day. One of the days that I question why I teach, or even get out of bed in the morning. Then, I came home, started writing, and this happened:

[9:00-Nicole is in the office in the process of boiling six dozen eggs to color later in the day. Kids run in.]

NICOLE: “Guys, stay out of this room. The pot is really hot. Go play.”

[Kids run out to the lobby. Nicole goes to print worksheets. Looks up to greet Zach as he arrives. Turns around, the rest of the kids are back in the office.]

NICOLE: “Get out!”

[Nicole picks up Fred, carries him out of the room, and deposits him on a bean bag. Goes back, picks up Rarity, caries her out as Fred runs back in. She carries Ella out as Rarity is running back in. Repeat as needed for 10-15 minutes.]

 

[9:30-Nicole is removing eggs from water to cool. Qing runs up to watch.]

NICOLE: “Do not touch the eggs.”

[Qing leans forward and reaches for egg.]

NICOLE: “Qing, those are hot, don’t touch them.”

QING, touching an egg: “Ow!”

NICOLE: “Don’t. Touch. The. Eggs.”

 

[9:45-Reading. Kids are talking]

NICOLE: “Shh. Ok, Fred, can you read? Ryan, shh.”

[Fred starts reading, Ryan continues talking, but quieter.]

NICOLE: “Ryan, stop talking.”

[Fred reads, Ryan continues to whisper in the background.]

NICOLE: “Ryan, Stop. Talking.”

RYAN: “I not talk.”

NICOLE: “’I’m not talking.’ You are talking. Whispering is still talking. Who is next?”

[Zach starts reading the next page. Girls start a conversation about My Little Pony.]

NICOLE: “Girls, stop talking, the only person talking is Zach.” [Zach continues reading.]

NICOLE (10 seconds later): “Jason, get your finger out of your nose. RYAN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP TALKING!”

 

[10:15-Math class, kids are working on subtraction. Jason has to make sure he has the right answer before committing anything to paper. He also was never taught how to form a question in his last school. We’re working on it.]

JASON: “I want to this.”

NICOLE: “What is this.”

JASON: “Wo bu zhi dao.” (Translation: I don’t know.)

NICOLE: “No, if you don’t know what it is, you say ‘What is this?’.Zhege shi shenme? What is this?”

JASON: “I want to five.”

NICOLE: “Is it five?”

JASON: “Yes.”

NICOLE: “No, you say, ‘Is it five?”

JASON: “Yes”

NICOLE: “Jason, say, “Is it five?”

JASON: “Is it five?”

NICOLE: “Yes it is. Very good.”

[Jason continues to next problem.]

JASON: “I want to nine?”

NICOLE: “Is it nine?”

JASON: “Yes.”

[Nicole sighs.]

 

[11:15-Recess. Note: Chinese people are always cold. Truly, they believe that if they are not actively sweating then they must be cold. In winter, parents send their kids to school in no less than six layers. In spring, it’s four or five-at least two pairs of pants, an undershirt, one or two long-sleeved shirts, a sweater, a jacket, and possibly a scarf. Regardless of the weather forecast, if the calendar says spring, they think they are cold. It was eighty degrees today. As soon as the kids got outside they started stripping and flinging clothes around.]

QING and RARITY (chanting): “Too hot! Too hot! It’s too hot!”

QING: “I want take off” (pulls off jacket and sweater)

NICOLE: “Okay, fine.”

RARITY: “I want to take off my dress”

NICOLE: “Okay, fine” (She has two pairs of pants and shirts under it.)

QING: “I want this off” (pulls off a pair of pants, revealing another pair)

RARITY: “I want my pants off too” (pulls off outer pants)

NICOLE: “Okay, sure, whatever” (Nicole is now covered in discarded clothing)

QING: “And this shirt”

NICOLE: “No”

QING: “Why?

NICOLE: “Because you have to keep at least one shirt on”

QING: “Why?”

NICOLE: “Because I said so.”

QING: “Wei shenme?” (”Why?”)

NICOLE: “Mei you wei shenme.” (“No why.”) “Go play.”

 

[11:40-Kids are collecting their clothes and lining up to go inside. Qing grabs her pants and puts them on her head, pulling them down over her eyes.]

NICOLE (sighs): “Qing, take your pants off your head.”

[Rarity pulls her pants over her head and both girls giggle like maniacs.]

NICOLE: “Rarity and Qing, take your pants off your head. You will run into something.”

[Qing falls down.]

QING: “Ow!”

[Nicole sighs.]

 

[11:45-Lunchtime. Nicole and Lucy are attempting a conversation.]

LUCY: “So I think Dan Yang can do an art project with the kids while we hide the eggs.”

NICOLE: “Yeah, that’s fine, Jason take your finger out of your nose.”

LUCY: “Okay, and maybe-Jason, do not put your spoon in your hair. Eat your lunch.-we could do some face painting.”

NICOLE: “Yeah, I think-“

[Ella and Qing are spinning around in swivel chairs because for some reason someone decided to put swivel chairs in a classroom full of five-year olds.]

NICOLE: “Ella! Qing! Che fan! Eat your lunch! That sounds good.”

 

[12:30-Story time. Nicole, Avery, and kids are sprawled out on beanbags. Nicole is reading. Sniffling noise.]

NICOLE looks up: “Rarity, what’s wrong?”

RARITY wailing: “Ella kicked me!” (Translation: Ella’s foot accidentally brushed hers.)

AVERY: “I think you’re okay, Rarity, it was an accident. Ella, can you tell Rarity you’re sorry for bumping her?”

[Ella bursts into tears, hiccupping and gasping for breath while other kids gawk, and Avery finally has to carry her out of the room to calm down.]

 

[1:15-Dyeing eggs for Easter egg hunt tomorrow. It’s chaos.]

FRED: “I’m going to make Jupiter!”

RARITY: “I’m going to make Neptune!”

RYAN: “I want two colors!”

ZACH: “I want three colors!”

QING: “I want eat a egg.”

NICOLE: “I want to eat an egg. Wait until snack time.”

RYAN: “Me egg break!”

NICOLE: “Well, if you don’t stab your egg with a pencil, it won’t break.”

RARITY: “I can’t eat eggs”

NICOLE: “I know.”

[Nicole knows this because any time anyone anywhere is talking about food, Rarity has to announce the details of her egg allergy.]

RARITY: “I can eat the yellow but I can’t eat the white. But I don’t like the yellow.”

NICOLE: “The yolk. I know you don’t.”

 

[3:00-Snacktime. Kids are gathered around plates of fruit and crackers, talking quietly for once. Nicole takes advantage of this anomaly and goes to the bathroom. Comes back thirty seconds later to find all the kids standing in the front entrance, laughing and shouting, door open.]

NICOLE: “WHAT is going on?”

AVERY: “Ryan is peeing in the bushes. He said he couldn’t wait.”

NICOLE: “Oh, yes, he could have!”

[15 minutes later. Zach is in the bathroom.]

RARITY: “I have to go to the bathroom but Zach is in there. I will go outside.”

NICOLE: “No you will not. No one is going outside. Ever. NEVER. AGAIN”

 

[3:15-Nicole gives up on attempting to do anything with children and shoos them out to the playground for the rest of the day. Maintenance workers are spraying down one of the slides and sidewalk. Puddles everywhere.]

NICOLE: “Stay on this side of playground, ok? I don’t want you getting all wet. Ryan, Zach, did you hear me? Only this side of the playground. Do not go in the water.”

BOYS: “OK.”

[Kids run off to play. Nicole and Avery collapse on a bench with sighs of relief. It lasts about 30 seconds.]

RARITY runs up sniffling: “Jason scratched me!”

NICOLE: “Where?”

RARITY: “On my there.” [Points.]

NICOLE: “On your cheek? Let’s see.”

[Avery calls to Jason in Chinese and tries to mediate. Nicole doesn’t understand a word and turns around to see Fred, Zach, and Ryan splashing in puddles and kicking water at each other.]

NICOLE: “Boys, get OUT of the water!”

[Zach and Fred take off running. Ryan continues to splash around, twirling and humming to himself.]

NICOLE: “RYAN! GET OUT OF THE WATER.”

[Ryan laughs and kicks water across the playground.]

NICOLE screaming at the top of her lungs: “RYAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET. OVER. HERE.”

[Ryan looks over, cocks his head to one side for a moment, then slowly strolls away from her.]

NICOLE: “Ryan. Come. Here.”

[Ryan looks over at her sideways, pauses, turns back, and continues walking away.]

NICOLE: “RYAN. Five minute time out. If you don’t get over here RIGHT NOW, it will be ten minutes.”

[Ryan slowly drags himself over to the bench, stands next to it, and starts twirling again.]

NICOLE in serial killer voice: “Sit. Down. Now.”

[Ryan sits.]

NICOLE, 3 minutes later: “Why are you in time out Ryan? What did you do?”

RYAN: “I don’t know.”

 

[3:55]

AVERY: “Are we going inside now?”
NICOLE: “No. We’re staying out here until their parents come and take them away. Hopefully forever.”

 

[4:00-Dismissal. Technically, but not really, because parents don’t pick up their kids, they send their ayis (nannies) who show up sometime before four and five-thirty. ]

RARITY: “Ew!”

NICOLE: “What?

RARITY: “Jason’s nose is bleeding.”

[Nicole turns around to see Jason covered in blood from a massive nosebleed. Avery and Lucy sit him down and try to stop the bleeding, clean him up, stuff some tissue in his nose, and send him back to play. Jason pulls tissue out of his nose and proceeds to run around the room splattering blood on every surface. Girls run around the room screaming at the blood. Ryan runs around screaming because he is Ryan and that is what he does.]

[4:30-Nicole goes home, drinks alcohol, eats chocolate, and attempts to erase her memory before repeating the next day.]

 

4/15/17

Friday wasn’t much better than Thursday, but our party was fun. Here’s some pictures I thought I’d share. Happy Easter, everyone!

 

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