A defer work day

It’s Christmas time right now, and one of the few comforts I have at work right now is decorating. There are snowflakes hanging from the ceiling of my classroom, purple reindeer and 3D stars adorning my glass door, red and green and silver and gold strewn about the borders of the room. I collect Mr. Donut’s holiday box tags every year (they’re always a different shape) to use for my own decorative use. Needless to say, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my classroom, and I would be a scrooge not give my student any credit.

As it is, I am presently feeling a bit overwhelmed with the task I have set before myself with this blog. A week flies by faster than a milli-second some days, and there have been so many moments I’ve already experienced that would be so blog-worthy for the purpose of this theme. So I find that I will have to work backwards – and forwards – simultaneously. Sometimes, I may stroll through memory lane. Sometimes, I may thematically develop a sequence of events. Other times, I may pull up a narrative. For now, I will start with today.

Today was a defer work day. This means that today was a Saturday. This also means, due to the fact that Taiwan’s government is granting us December 31 off (a day which happens to fall on a Monday), many of us went to work and school today. Apparently in this country, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. A weekday off (a day that’s not technically considered a holiday by calendar standards) means working on a Saturday.

So, on this fine Saturday, I was off to work. I shoved all the chairs and desks around the edges of my classroom, leaving an open space in the middle for madness to ensue. It did. I watched my students scream when Santa came. There were screams of fear, not joy. Very odd. I let them musical chairs. I fed them brownies that I dragged myself out of bed to make this morning. (I was late for work. I’ll admit I wasn’t trying very hard to be in a hurry, considering it was Saturday and all.) Did not appreciate their lack of excitement about the brownies. I think the word might have been a little lost in translation the first time I said it, but still.

It was like a factory in there. I kept them busy with plenty of pictures to color, Christmas-themed word puzzles, Christmas cut-outs, and snowflakes. They did quite well.

I tried a jumping jack contest with my younger class to wear them out and wipe all that energy out that drives me mad. It was surprisingly effective. I actually should have extended it to two or three songs instead of just one.

This last whole last week was midterms, so I wasn’t going to be too hard on anyone. But there is something maddeningly frustrating when your students of all people don’t feel the same way you do about Christmas…

…and this is why my junior high class really lifted my spirits last night. (I teach a junior high class on Friday nights from 7 to 9:30. Yay is me.) During the last period of class, I found myself and all of them heartily and enthusiastically singing Christmas carols! I gave everyone a booklet of 5 Christmas songs, and we sang all five, which I was not expecting. Even the Chinese teachers were shocked, and they entered the classroom accordingly with video cameras (on their smart phones of course) documenting the whole event.

I found the whole thing rather rejuvenating, and it is definitely nice to have one’s spirit’s lifted after teaching on a Friday night AND on the eve of a defer work day.

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