TEFLChina Teahouse: Life: Good stuff:
Positive energy and the round file
There is a good deal of littering on campus, here at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. A bird tells me it is an expression of opprobrium from the students towards the intellectual apathy from their teachers and administrators.
This didn't translate nicely in my heart, since it put me on the side lacking intellectual vigor. It stressed me and then depressed me.
And so I though: clean classrooms set a positive attitude and I believe in positive energy.
All the classrooms in my university have (1) refuse in the desks and on the floor, and (2) no trash cans. So I decided to make my classroom a positive example and bought two plastic waste baskets, one for each end of my rather large classroom.
Students gradually began putting waste into the round file, rather than into their desks or on the floor. Not always of course. It was a hard habit to get into because there were no waste baskets in the other classrooms. But perhaps the larger half of the crumpled papers, food wrappers, plum pits etc. in my classroom ended up in the waste baskets. I collected the rest into the baskets at the end of the day and dumped them in the trash can down the hall.
We had done this for two semesters. Then lo, guess what happened yesterday! I saw a bunch of students, with a bright stack of colorful plastic round files (waste baskets), taking signatures on a poster in front of their dormitory! One of them slotted me and shouted for me to come over and sign this poster. She had been in a class I had substituted in last September (and had brought my two waste baskets along with me to) and she had now bought a whole stack of colorful plastic waste baskets with her own money, one for each classroom in our teaching building!
I teased her and said "uh'oh, bad western influence, are you sure I should sign your poster?" But she is so positive and showed me where three other foreign teachers had already signed. So I signed it too and congratulated her on her good work. She and her happy group of classmates are hoping the school will reimburse her the price of the waste baskets. . . . .
This is only a small footnote amid the flurry of student-organized activities on our campus. The Student Center has a room that regularly turns out posters, some of them wonderfully artistic.
I enjoy their spunk and energy. The things that get done on campus are the ones the students get involved with. A bird told me my gesture buying two waste baskets for my classroom was appreciated. I used to sputter and frown when collecting trash from the desks but this one student getting a little desk sized round file for each classroom..... How about that.
I think one of the most rewarding things for me in being an EFL teacher is my students. Some of my best feelings about myself is when a student of mine shows great improvement by the end of the semester. I know that I am doing the best job that I can and I hope that the school and parents know that. I have never regretted teaching English over there and that is why I am still doing it after three years.
© Copyright 2000