1. Teaching while wearing a microphone headset
I look like I’m in god damn NSYNC when I teach my 2nd grade students, except I’m only dancing sometimes and I’m mostly yelling or giving serious talks about nouns. I thought this was absurd when I first saw the Taiwanese teachers wearing them, but once I started teaching 28 classes a week, I realized my voice was shot and I was going to sound like Lindsey Lohan all year, unless I gave my voice the luxury of a microphone. Added bonus: the students are used to them and respond like trained dogs when they hear you using it.
2. Being disappointed in my B average students
In the beginning, I had to pretend to be upset when I had students getting 80’s on their exams because I saw how angry the Taiwanese teachers were. Excellence is expected in Taiwanese schools. Hell, I was mostly a B student, so I didn’t think I should be too hard on them, but now when I see one of my students get an 82 on a science exam, I sharply gasp and busy myself with writing a note home to their parents.
3. Wearing hooker heels and nylons to school
It could be said I’ve always dressed abnormally and enjoyed wearing tights and knee-highs, but I’ve never felt it was totally acceptable until I came to school and saw actual teaching professionals dressed like they were working in a hostess bar. I don’t even go out in skirts that short! But thanks to this lax dress code, I can wear my sheer cat tights with heels, and a dress and feel like one of the gang.
4. Drinking Family Mart coffees and teas on the daily
One must have an allegiance to Family Mart or 7/11 here in Taiwan. Either way, it’s the cheapest place for coffee and tea. Most importantly, it’s the fastest, which is why most teachers at school have a pile of paper cups on their desks. My students have a weird fascination with them and even fight each other to have my trash when I am done…
5. Expecting bowing in all situations
My students bow to me when class ends and starts. They are expected to bow and say sorry to the class when they are late and I make them bow to me when they’ve been fighting with other students. Bowing. It’s all the rage. Added bonus: you feel like Mother of Dragons.
6. Sleeping on my desk
I saw teachers do this in Korea and I taught far less hours there, so I didn’t get the need for it. Until I became an overworked, stressed-out teacher, just like them. Now, I have an actual pillow at my desk that I use at lunch time or even in the middle of someone else’s class to catch some precious Z’s.
7. Creative discipline
My Taiwanese co-teacher is an absolute master at discipline. She inspires me in her cruelty. My favorite was when she threatened to bring a child’s training toilet to school and make our 1st grade student sit on it for a week because he was always trying to leave class to go to the bathroom. These threats are sometimes empty, sometimes not.
8. Treating my students as if they are my actual children
Feeling as though I have 58 children can be a bitch. On weekends, I’m like, if ONE child runs near me, I will drop kick it!!! But in all honesty, I adore them. They drive me nuts, but spending about 9 hours a day with them, eating lunch with them, wiping their tears, laughing at our inside jokes, and getting the joy of seeing their creativity and knowledge grow is worth it. I’m just glad I didn’t have to birth them…