Thursday, November 30, 2006


About a week ago, I had a tough lesson to teach to a group I wasn't very familiar with. The target was to get them to comprehend a story that revolved around boats, a topic that these kids were clueless about. I spent a good bit of time struggling with my plan. Finally, I just decided to get silly, a method that seems to work well for me.

I marched into the class and had a bunch of the kids stand up and clear the desks out of the center of the room. Next, I grabbed four of them to be my subjects. The four kids were about to my boat mates. I had to explain to the class the differences between a canoe, a rowboat, and a speedboat. Also, what the heck is water skiing? In the next five minutes or so, I had the students grabbing imaginary oars and rowing the boats, steering the speedboat, and bouncing off the waves while holding on for dear life. The action was furious and the kids had a blast! For some reason, they love it when I make a fool of myself as I make silly sound effects and jump around like a monkey...

I related this goofy story to you all because yesterday, Josephine, the classes full-time teacher, told me that the class is still talking about that crazy lesson. Several of the kids in the class have asked her when Teacher David is coming back! Mission accomplished...

Those kids will remember that lesson. As a teacher, you have to be willing to throw humility/ego out the door to get the job done.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good Luck Malinda

As you may have noticed, the pictures below are of Malinda on her last day at Gram. She has decided to try something else. I knew this day was coming, just didn't think it would be so soon. Her & I have spoken many times about her desire to do something different with her life. She hasn't been thrilled with her job in quite some time. Teaching is just not her thing.

She is a great woman who is trying to figure out her future, a tough spot to be in. She has a strong spirit and works really hard. Wherever she ends up, she will shine.

I will miss her and I hope we have a chance to get together outside of work.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pics! (Malinda)

Some good shots of Malinda on her last day. Not a fun day in the office. She will be missed.I really like the next two. She always yelled at me for taking spontaneous shots like this, but I think they turned out great! They were taken while I was sitting at my desk. She put up with my silliness more than she ever should

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Class & Superwriters Disaster

Megan, one of the Chinese teachers at work, quit her job. She is going to move home and pursue a life in the business world. Her last day is next month. She asked me to take over one of her classes and I accepted. She is an excellent teacher and the class is pretty sharp. Lucky for me, they are about 2 units behind one of my other classes, so I can simply use the existing lesson plans for this new group...a big time saver.

The class meets from 5:00 to 7:00 on Tuesdays & Fridays, which is good except that means that it buts up against my two-and-a-half hour Superwriters class on Tuesdays. From here on in, Tuesdays are gonna be rough.

Speaking of Superwriters, what a mess. I am adrift in that class. The expectations from my boss are at odds with the classes abilities. It's been difficult to get this group to write at the level that is expected by the school's leadership. Force-feeding them complex writing assignments is not a winning strategy. They simply don't have the ability to work at the prescribed pace. I realised this a few months back and scaled down the lesson plans to accommodate their shortcomings. I had a meeting with my boss about a week ago and she is less than pleased with their progress. I explained to her that I had to alter my approach so that everyone could keep up. This doesn't compute with the boss because slowing things down means less money per class period. The parents pay according to the progress in the texts. I am taking about 6 weeks longer to finish the text than she thinks is acceptable. I am doing my best to buckle down and make it more cost-effective. I am worried it comes at the expense of the kids and their chance to become excellent writers.

We'll see. I think there is going to be some substantial changes in the Superwriters class in the near future.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Ok, these are the two cutest kids on the planet! The first one is Kevin, an adorable little guy who was pretty adept at avoiding my camera, until I snuck up behind him and got him with this shot. Just below is Angel, she is a silly little one who runs around the office with a smile that lights up the room. I was shocked she stood still long enough for me to snap this one. Ya gotta click on the pics to get the full effect, they are priceless!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Postal Heaven

I got a nice care package from home yesterday. It's great getting stuff that I can't normally get here, including Reese's Cups!! There is a place that carries Reese's here, but they want about $1.50 American for a pack!...not gonna happen.

Included in the package was some good deodorant, pics from home, a letter from mom, and of course, the new Black Keys's fantastic!

The requisite pics of my crazy cats are great. Also, a lovely pic of Gracie, my adorable niece. She is a little ballerina. Mom on the back of a motorcycle was a bit of a shock. My Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Charles are nearly 100 years old, excellent to see them together in the picture. If I had a scanner, I would've posted these great shots on here, sorry.

Had one of the Reese's Cups for dessert at work last night. Everyone in the office couldn't figure out why I was drooling and nearly brought to tears...simply scrumptious!

P.S. I know my sister Jayne was the one who made the effort to get the CD, you're the greatest. Also, thanks for taking the time to read this your comments.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Another silly sign I found. This one can be found above most urinals here in Taiwan. Not sure what a "snipe" is? It's important to be discreet and clean! of the little cuties I have so much fun teaching...she was practicing for an upcoming competition. I had to get a pic of her, she is a little angel. With her is Megan, one of the many very pretty teachers I have the pleasure of working with.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Return to Bangkok?

As most of you know by now, I am heading home for a visit in mid-January. Well, I just found a killer trip deal for Bangkok over the Chinese New Year, in mid-February. Ugh, I dig Bangkok, big time. This is tough. If I do this it will seriously cut into my budget for the trip home. NT$8000 for a round-trip flight to BKK is a steal over the holiday. I have 4 or 5 days off, sure would like to spend them running wild in Thailand. I know that I have to go back again before I move back to the States. Time to crunch some numbers...

My itinery for the trip home is locked in, bought the last of the tickets yesterday. Flying into LAX on Jan 12th, catching another flight that evening to Vegas. Staying with Perry & Andrea for a few days before leaving for CLE on the evening of the 14th. Hanging with the fam until the 23rd. Flying back to Vegas on the evening of the 23rd. Gotta another day or so in Sin City before scooting back to LAX to catch return flight to Taipei...what a trip.

The whole shootin match cost me about $1050 American, not too shabby.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fair Play?

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am coaching one of my students for an upcoming speech competition. The contests are a big deal here. Sandra, my student, wrote a very nice speech about a crazy vacation she took a few years ago. It's a fun composition with a fair amount of grammar mistakes. This is to be expected considering she is in the process of learning the language. I have been giving her tips and prompting her to keep working hard to make it a great speech. A few days ago, my boss asked me how it was going. I told her that Sandra was rewriting it and figuring out how long the speech is, it has to be between two and two-and-a-half minutes. My boss looked at me with a frown. She asked me why I wasn't writing the speech for her. I told her that it was Sandra's speech, not mine. She proceeded to tell me that the teacher usually writes the speech to ensure that it includes a good amount of the grammar the student is currently learning. I couldn't help but laugh when she told me this. I calmly told her that I don't work that way. This is Sandra's speech, not mine. She wasn't thrilled to hear that. Apparently, the only thing that matters is winning. This is a multi-school contest and a trophy gives a school some serious bragging rights. That being said, I am not gonna cheat. I have already spoken to Sandra about this and explained to her that I am not worried about her performance...she is awesome and this is about having fun. If she loses, it won't be because she sucks. It'll be because she is one of the few kids that actually utilized her skills. I know this is gonna get me in trouble with my boss. Screw it, I am not going play the game. All that matters is that Sandra knows she did the right thing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Next Opportunity?

As I mentioned earlier, I am taking a trip home in January. Part of my journey involves a stop off to visit my favorite couple of crazies, Perry & Andrea. I'm gonna be spending a few days with them in Las Vegas, their home. Anyhow, Perry & I Have been discussing the possibility of yours truly becoming a teacher in Vegas. It's the hottest market in the country for teachers, they are paying very well and the demand is sky-high. The school district there has many options as far as alternative licensing is concerned. I am confident I could do it. As far as I can tell, it's about an 18 month program. From everything Perry has told me, it looks like I won't have any problems getting a full-time teaching gig once I get the license.

I love my job here, but I have to seriously consider the long-term picture. I have had nothing but good things here and I think I need to see if I can parlay my good fortune into something more concrete in the States. I don't believe I'll ever have an easier set-up then I do now but it is just not something you do for 20+ years. I am well aware that teaching in the U.S. is a very different experience then over here, I think I can handle it.

The thought of leaving my kids here is heart-wrenching. I know it's a cliche', but many of the children I teach are MY kids...the attachment runs deep. If this Vegas teaching opportunity happens, it's gonna be a tough transition. I have had plenty of shifts in my life, but most of them came as a result of dissatisfaction with what I was doing at the time. This one won't be quite that simple. I am very happy with just about every aspect of my life here. This move will be driven by my need to shore things up in the distant future.

I've got lots to think about in the coming months.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Perry sent me this link. Click on the title of this post "Perspective" to activate the link. It's pretty telling. When you scale down things, the problems we are facing are much more disturbing. It's got lots of graphics, so it may take a minute or so to load.

I particularly like the advice at the bottom of the page.

"Tell the truth and you don't have to remember anything."