May 16, 2018



May 16, 2018

  As time goes by I’m discovering more and more realistically what it is I do here. I don’t think that’s odd, by the way. It’s a little unhelpful for proving that I’m damn good at my job since, hey, if I haven’t really known what it is I’ve been doing…. But no. This is what they call learning by doing, and ffs, is there another way to gain skills? I suppose there are ways to be more prepared for learning skills, like being told ahead of time what the skills are and seeing an expert do it once or twice. But damn it all to hell doesn’t it sucks balls to be slowly but surely uncovering the meaning of, say, curriculum planning or concept scaffolding and to realise no one is going to care? No one here will reward me for this stuff. No one outside of here will believe I did it. I can’t even claim credit in some attempt to get into a real teacher training program. Balls. It sucks them.

  That’s what I’m going to claim though. In the friggen application letter I’ll lay claim to having so well tried my best that I’ve come far enough to dimly see how few strides I’ve made but how well I’ve laid groundwork for striding should someone see fit to visit upon me knowledge of the arcana all the other initiates will study.

  I hope it works. I don’t really want to be here much longer doing all this by myself. I want some progress.

When there’s no class identity…

May 15, 2018

  Although it looks, I guess, like a disadvantage in various contexts, one aspect of the Chinese system that makes teaching so much easier is class identity – students identifying with their classmates as a unit. You notice it when it’s not there. When class groups – those administrative groupings of students that perforce stay together for the literal majority of the daylight hours of any given weekday for most of literally four years – do not identify as a group, class activities slow right down. Anything left to the student’s own decision will come to a halt. Small groups don’t discussion. Large groups put their heads down for your harangues. Lessons fail.

  Or, lessons do fail if you do tend to rely on class identity being a foundation for small group and large class activities.

  Which, it turns out, I do.

  Junior classes were great today. Sophomore classes sucked.


May 15, 2018


May 15, 2018

  The thing about getting qualified in the homeland and specifically in my city of origin was it would have allowed me to spend some time with the family – mother and sister, specifically. The other thing about getting qualified in the homeland was it would have been my ticket out of China. Experience in China doesn’t count for anything, not even in China, so I can say I’m a teacher all I want, but it’s “a teacher in China”. None of this means anything for getting any kind of work outside of China. To go home now would be to start over at the bottom of the barrel, and I’d still be trying to be a teacher even there. I’d be looking for tutor jobs. And they’d blow all the chunks because I still wouldn’t know the things I want to know about being a good teacher.

  So, getting qualified in the homeland was going to be a good choice. But entry into initial teacher education programs these days at graduate level requires prior education in your preferred areas of specialization, at least an undergraduate major in one and an undergraduate minor in the other, and more likely undergrad majors in both. Which I don’t have.

  So how am I teaching Business Studies and sometimes Economics right now? I don’t have prior education in these areas. What’s letting me be that teacher? Well duh, an absence of standards, that’s what. I teach in English, the students are all Chinese, everyone thinks I’m really an English teacher, I think I’m teaching a subject. My employment contract is the same as any other Oral English teacher’s, and while the subjects I formally teach are called 商务项目设计与管理 (aka “Business Studies”) and 经济学基础 (aka “Introduction to Economics”), if I ask anyone what they think I’m really doing, they’ll say “letting the students practice English”.

  And lest you think I’m being cheated, no, *I* created those courses. I said to the employer and the dean, how about I teach some business classes. And they said you betcha. Over the years I’ve come to realise they have always considered these classes basically English practice too, a kind of complicated Oral English with business language focus, but that’s because… well, because I’m working in the Language Department after all, so……

  Why don’t I teach business subjects in the business school? Because I did already. There’s a Management and Economics school here and me and Other Guy started out there back when I originally had the idea to offer business classes in English. And wouldn’t you know it, despite teaching grandly named subjects like Business Administration, International Marketing, and Economics for Engineering Management, really everyone still thought we were teaching English. Which sucked for everyone because I wasn’t teaching English and I was still working out (a) how to teach, and (b) how to teach in non-English speakers in English. And at one point that collection of buttholes over there threw me under the bus when their budget allocation changed. Basically everyone on staff there had to work a certain number of hours per week so without warning someone took back classes I had been expected to teach, which left me largely unemployed (and therefore unpaid) for a semester, so fuck them forever and fuck them still even though the dean over there has changed and everyone’s all progressive now. (My aching butthole, they are. They aren’t. And I can know that without ever visiting them again…)

  At this rate, there isn’t a way to go home again.

  And that’s called blerg.


May 8, 2018

Half Assing

May 8, 2018

  Looking into it, I don’t know there’s any other way forward. Well, there are, obviously, but they’re all harder. Like, I could spend some time with some books and get some ideas about teaching that could maybe address the various frustrations I sometimes have in the classroom, and then just say screw it and apply for the various economics teaching jobs that keep on existing around here. I could probably bluff my way in and end up working pretty damn hard to get up to speed. It’d take a while, both to find an employer that’d accept my bluff and to get good at what I was supposed to do in the classroom. It’d be just so much easier to do a course of education and then apply like a qualified person.

  Plus, the reason for looking into any of this is how bored I am where I am. I think that’s what I am. I have this very restricted opportunity to teach. Any one class I meet for 90 minutes a week. They’re all respectful and cooperative, and they’re getting better at what I want to see them doing – which, by the way, is discussion. I want to see them become capable of addressing a case study with a view to discovering its secrets and then knowing what to say next. I suppose I should look into why I want to teach that collection of skills as well. It’s “critical thinking” but just identifying it as in-demand material probably isn’t enough uncovering of my motivation. But whatever, I don’t get to alter the class structure or change much of what happens in the classroom. I don’t get really to teach. And I only have an intuitive notion of what “teach” means so what I’m identifying as teach might not be. But, as mentioned, whatever. I want to improve what I do. And the way to do that is get qualified.

  I could still stay here and keep working away at this on my own and that could be a path to “qualification” as well, the more so if actual research and corresponding development could take place here. And I suppose it could if I had those ten to twenty years to spare again. That’s how long it would take to move aside the restrictions on my practice here. By which I actually mean the time it would take to renovate the entire teaching structure, ffs.

  But I don’t have the time and nor the security and I don’t have any faith it’d actually work. It would at the very least be so very frustratingly slow that in effect it wouldn’t happen.

  I don’t know that all of that is the reason though. See, I just want to get better as a teacher. That’s the whole of it. I don’t like half-assing it, and I don’t think I have to. I can learn the better way, and then goddamnit I can put that better way into practice and make it good.

  If the cocksuckers back in the world would just stop standing in the way…

  Basically, I’m not sure I can qualify to get into the Master of Teaching program. Why would they be keeping someone like me out? I’m not young, I’m not married, I’m not connected to the community, and all of those things are bad, I guess, they’d make people like my sister suspicious and she’s a mother looking to get her kids educated. But that’s the employment market, not the student market. Why are they keeping someone like me out of the program? I’m motivated, capable, and already experienced enough at amateur teaching to know that I’m staying in the field, and I just want to get better.

  But I don’t have the undergraduate credits in Economics and Business.

  Yadda yadda, I’ll still apply. My ducks-in-a-row are all sitting around crooked and one or two of them can’t be found.


May 1, 2018

Making the application anyway

May 1, 2018

  Fine, fine, sure, yes. Of course I’ll be making an application anyway. I totally do want to take two years out of my working life to do that study…

  No but seriously, I do. I do want to do that study. I do want to take the two years. We’ll maybe the 18 months accelerated version. And I do want to go back to Australia, to the hometown, and do the study there.

  Goddamn, it’ll be expensive. If I don’t get the Commonwealth-supported place, it’ll just about break my bank. It’ll halve my nest egg as it is.

  Assuming I get in, that is. And I can’t actually make the application until the government website opens applications for 2019. Which, I presume, is a while away yet. And I really don’t like having to wait. Especially not while making contract decisions with my current employer. I told her I’d be leaving for this study at the start of 2019, and she gave her blessing for a half-year contract up to that point. And if I can’t make the application until that half-year contract has already started…

  Yes, there’s some fucking juggling to do, and I don’t like it. But I have a reading list while I wait.

  • teaching making a difference – churchill – 3rd ed
  • mcinerney – developemental and educational psychology – 2nd ed
  • effective teaching is schools theory and practice – kyriacou – 3rd
  • measurement and evaluatiion in education and psychology – mehrens lehman 4th ed
  • using spss for windows and macintosh – green and salkind, 4th ed
  • classroom assessment and grading that work – robert j marzano
  • collaborative learning – goodsell, maher, Tinto et al
  • teaching strategies a guide to effective instruction – orlich, harder, callahan, trevisan, brown – 9th ed

  One or more of those, at least.

  And if I learn it all before 2019, maybe I’ll just get a new job instead. (And I won’t ever be able to go back home, seeing as how I will have embarked on a career for which I won’t have the qualifications to be licensed in my home state…

  Goddamned home state.


April 30, 2018

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