Weathering the initial storm required flexibility, resourcefulness, peers, and more than a little luck.
As the first two months in China come to an end with the Mid-Autumn Festival break, it’s beginning to feel like I’m coming to the next stage of my journey; kind of like completing the first act of an intensely mundane RPG, where instead of monsters, evil, and saving the world, it’s dealing with children, lesson planning, budgeting, and trying to have fun while staying afloat.
After completing my TEFL training course, I had my formal observation by my direct boss. This entailed her observing one of my classes, critiquing my methodology and execution, then holding a follow-up meeting on what I did okay with, what I needed to improve on, and what I would be doing from now on. It also served as the marker for the end of my probation period, meaning that I get to continue working China! While I don’t think there was a great chance I would’ve failed probation, it feels like I’ve finally arrived and am here to stay, with all visa, work, and personal things settled (for now). It’s been a tumultuous adjustment- having to complete my visa process, find and settle into an apartment in Shanghai, and learn a completely new field of work.
Additionally, this Friday I took my first Teacher Knowledge Test (TKT), designed at evaluating our knowledge of different aspects of teaching. The TKT is directly tied to our performance reviews and can qualify teachers for greater pay raises depending on how well we do on the tests. With the first test out of the way, I can continue to develop my skills and become more efficient in my work.
So what comes next?
After the Mid-Autumn Festival break (in which I’ll be traveling to Beijing), the focus will be on dramatically increasing the intensity of my Chinese language studies, becoming more efficient in planning for work, and learning how to do more of the more advanced duties of being an ESL teacher, including open lessons, achievement ceremonies, and progress reports.
While I’m working hard, I’ll also try to make time to see more of Shanghai, eat more new things, and generally just explore, but I won’t have the capital to do so for a little while longer, so it’ll be steamed buns and grocery shopping for a couple more months.
The first chapter of my journey has been fraught with challenges, new experiences and sights, and has kept me physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged throughout.
As I go forward, taking a mentality of staying in the present and taking things day to day will enable me to fully appreciate the journey I’m taking, and will help me to keep a positive mentality through everything.
But first, 我们去北京!
(Wǒmen qù běijīng- Let’s go to Beijing!)