Throughout the next nine months, I will be teaching at two schools in Fengyuan District, Taichung City (台中市豐原區): Fuchuen Elementary School (富春國民小學) and Huludun Elementary School (葫蘆墩國民小學). On Mondays and Tuesdays I teach at Fuchuen. I spend my Wednesdays-Fridays at Huludun.
The "bottle-gourd"is considered auspicious because the first character in 葫蘆 (hulu) is the homophone of the words to "protect," 護 (hu), and "blessing," 祜 (hu). The hulu shape is often seen on good luck charms with red string and Chinese characters, as shown below. Also pictured is a cartoon welcoming in the Chinese New Year (2016: the year of the Monkey) with a monkey in the shape of a hulu.
Pictured (from left to right): 黃曉菁 (Huludun admin/主任), me, another Huludun admin/主任, and 曾偉銘 (Fuchuen admin/主任).
One of the key aspects I appreciate about teaching at these two schools is that - in some senses - I get the best of two different worlds.
At Fuchuen, I will be able to connect with all of my students in a meaningful way and hopefully learn all of their names by the end of the year.
At Huludun, I'm able to work with many different LET's, and as a result, gain exposure to diverse teaching styles, classroom management strategies, classroom resources, and students. I see this as an opportunity for professional development, as well as a challenge. Adjusting to different LETs' co-teaching expectations, pedagogical methods, and classrooms every two weeks is no easy task. It requires a great deal of flexibility, clear communication, and adaptability.
At Fuchuen, on the other hand, there is more routine in my schedule -- on a weekly basis, I know that I will be teaching the same classes, grades, and using the same set of textbooks to teach. Yet, while my schedule is more fixed at Fuchuen, it's also significantly more jam-packed due to the fact that I only teach at Fuchuen two days per week.
At Huludun, I have the luxury of spending extended lengths of time lesson planning, which allows me to be more creative with my teaching. And because I only teach three grades per LET at Huludun, I'm able to hone my lessons every time I teach. Fuchuen presents more difficulty because I jump between vastly different grade levels each day -- my schedule goes from 2nd, 5th, 6th, 6th, and 3rd on Mondays to 4th, 2nd, 4th, 3rd, and 5th on Tuesdays.
It goes without saying that each school presents its own unique challenges and conveniences. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for the combination of these two schools, because they - in conjunction - allow me to form relationships with multiple LETs, school administrators, benefit from a broad array of school resources and extracurriculars, and get to know a diverse group of students of all ages and backgrounds.