…because now I can see where you are. Is that cool, or what? I’ve had snippets of information over the past couple of years – an email here, a blog comment there – but now, thanks to StatCounter.com, I can get daily pictures of where you are:
On Saturday afternoon, February 21, people from these countries were visiting me. What I don’t understand is the HUGE cluster of folks in the EU. Maybe it’s because most of the “traffic” to my blog comes from Google Images, so maybe they’re searching for photos of Chengdu.
As much as I love seeing myself all over the cyber-map, I also get more cool details, such as what country or city you come from.
I can understand 19 people from Chengdu, but 21 people from Reykjavik, Iceland? Farther down the list, I can start to guess who you are, in Tucson AZ (hi Kenton!) or in Los Angeles CA (is that you, Arturo?) In the middle of that European cluster is, of course, Gay Paree, where I can only hope that two of my fave Paris studs are looking at me, blog-ically speaking: is that you, David Lebovitz or brieuc75?
So, for the first time since I started this blog in 2005 (before teaching in China was even an idea), I have a counter. Goodness knows I’ve tried to install one in the past, but I could never manage to put the HTML code in the right place. As I love to tell my students, all of whom are technologically gifted, I am technologically challenged.* For example, when I was writing my most recent post, and cut and pasted word definitions from an online dictionary, I ended up in HTML Hell.
What would you do if you saw a tangled mess of codes and brackets? My solution was to KISS – that’s 12-step talk for Keep It Simple, Stupid. I took out the code and hand-typed all the information I needed to include. Then I decided to compose my blog (except for adding photos) in the HTML mode, where I can tell if any pesky code thingies are creeping in without my knowledge. A while back, Blogger went thru a period when it was very temperamental, changing line spacing, doing quirky little things, and making a nuisance of itself. Not only that, but during my first year in China, I couldn’t see my blog. I could post to it, but could only view it on occasion, when my proxy server worked (now the proxy server itself, http://www.anonymouse.org/, is blocked).
So, next time you visit me here, remember, I will see you.
I seldom sleep well on Sunday nights. It’s a form of stage fright, anxiety about what will happen on Monday morning when I rise at 5:30 AM, do my last-minute preparation, and prepare to get on the bus at 7:20 to the new campus. I’m also drinking a LOT of coffee, which doesn’t help.
It can also be disconcerting when the first two weeks of class are the “cruising-for-teachers” period, during which time students can migrate from English class to English class and choose the foreign teacher who best suits them (do they really choose the one who has the easiest class?).
This morning I felt unprepared, as I always do on Mondays, but, even with only 4 hours sleep, I managed to thoroughly enjoy myself and, I think, teach a couple of effective classes. I came prepared with my arsenal: the DVD of Chaplin’s Modern Times, an old stand-by that the students always enjoy, my Kingston mobile storage device (to plug into the classroom computer), and that necessity in a class with no textbook or handouts, the PPT (PowerPoint presentation). Here’s a sample of my Week 1 presentation:
Today’s classes were about describing a personal memory – writing about it, talking about it with a partner, and then enlarging it. That means adding details, as any good writer or storyteller would. During my classes, I not only write on the board, but keep my notebook handy to constantly scribble notes to myself, as in this sketch of a graphic organizer or mind map:
I also drew the mind map on the board, then as an example, told the students about my initial experiences in China with culture shock – what it looked like, how it felt, what my memories were (that doesn’t mean the culture shock has stopped – it still continues). Then I had them look at their personal memory stories again, and add as much more detail as they could. I don’t know how effective it was, but one of the things I hear most often from my students is their difficulty in talking about ideas or feelings. Hence the suggestions for writing, speaking, and graphic organization.
The other thing that’s hard to do in the early classes is to judge what’s too easy or too difficult. I talked briefly about phrasal verbs today – combinations of a verb and one or two other words. I think the get expressions – get going, get up, get along, etc. – were too easy. In Class #2 I tried look expressions – look at, look into, look after, look around – then assigned one collocation to each pair of students to invent a situation or story.
Notes to myself: “Teaching Skills” or how to Be A Better Teacher:
Stop hurrying – don’t be worried that the students are bored or will tune me out;
It’s OK to take an idea and run with it – I guess that means go with the flow;
Relax more (difficult)
Don’t be intimidated by students – this is a self-confidence issue, and also means that I’m basically an introverted person, which means that being around people can be hard work for me, and emotionally draining. Still, the teacher sets the tone of the class, but Ss [students] must help.
Whew! This blog post has been a workout – my keyboard is smoking and my fingers are aching. Time to say goodbye until next time – and see you on the map!
* Speaking of technologically challenged, these people make me sound positively brilliant. Here are some stories excerpted from an article in the Wall Street Journal:
– A Dell technician advised a customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.
– Another Dell customer called to say he couldn’t get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of troubleshooting, the tech discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the “send” key.
– A confused caller to IBM was having troubles printing documents. He told the technician that the computer had said it “couldn’t find printer,” The user had tried turning the computer screen to face the printer, but that his computer still couldn’t “see” the printer.