Emails (and going that extra mile)

A Senior student who I taught last year asked me for a reference for something she wants to take part in in Beijing in February, organised by Yale University. I am always happy to write references, though it can be difficult if you don’t know students that well, and often we will tell people we can do it, but equally they should go and speak to other teachers who know them better. This student was born in America and she takes an interest in politics and world events. She has sent me several emails about Brexit, the US election campaign and similar issues. She is busy with school, and so emails when she can. I suspect that, in ten years’ time, she will be famous and changing the world. She volunteers a lot at school and is always busy on a project or two.

Some of the teachers here are very much of the attitude of not going the extra mile. They will help people if they come to office hours, but if a student emails them they won’t really do much. If a student emails them…. They don’t often encourage students to email them. There is a messaging system in China called WeChat. It’s like Whatsapp but you can do more things on it, like pay bills. Most Chinese teachers have students added to WeChat as a matter of course. But we are not allowed to add students, so they email us instead. I get a few emails from a few different students – not once a week, or even regularly – but if you scrolled through my inbox it would be a mixture of other teachers’ emails, and student emails.

It’s a shame that some teachers don’t do this more often (go the extra mile). Some here do – one of the foreign teachers, who works at the school’s football academy one day a week took the students some sweets, as they couldn’t come to the Halloween party we have this week at school. That’s pretty cool, that she did that, and that they were appreciative of it (which, apparently, they were). But they often don’t bother to even check their school emails. I can’t really understand why teachers don’t. That’s why we are here, after all. We are here to help them…

Students have exams next week – mid-term examinations. We have the week off school. I am going to be working on my book chapter, meet a couple of friends, and submit grades for students. Nothing very exciting!

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