Review of 2016 – part 2: Reasons to be hopeful

I am trying to find the right way to describe 2016. Facebook statuses yesterday didn’t help; many shared my sentiments but used language I would rather not use here. Needless to say, the words used to describe last year were not positive. I can understand why. First Brexit, then the US election. Last year was the hottest on record, and in many ways by the end of the year, the future looked a little bleak.

I spent yesterday reading some of The Guardian’s Reasons to be Hopeful pages, which were somewhat inspiring. Looking back at my own year, things were, by and large, fine. I finished my first year of teaching and started my second. I improved, albeit slowly, my Chinese language ability. And I had my proposal for a book chapter accepted. So I can’t really complain too much.

Now, it is the new year. It is 2017. This year will likely be equally momentous. The British government is supposedly going to trigger Article 50 by the end of March. Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the new US President this month… And here, I could, potentially move on to other things come the summer.

It is pretty much the end of term for us. We have exam results to give out, but our classes are virtually finished now. People have already started to switch off mentally from school and focus on their holidays. We are lucky in that, because of final exams etc, we get many holidays here than others do. We even get the luxury of a day’s holiday for Christmas, which other foreigners are not afforded.

In school this year, I have taught some old students, and many new ones. I have probably adapted and development my teaching style after last year…. But there is still some way to go. I still forget things. I don’t always do things correctly, or how I’ve been trained to do them (and how I should do them). Sometimes lessons don’t go as planned, or I can see the students are clearly bored. I also spend a bit too much teaching talking time, and not enough time letting the students speak. These are all things I am aware of and try and build on every time I have class, to make me a better teacher.

I know there are some of my colleagues, and some Chinese teachers here, who question our role. There has been a greater interest in our positions recently, especially as English speaking is becoming part of the Junior Zhongkao exam – high school admission exam – and the Senior Gaokao – university admission exam. As such, our role here will potentially change, with greater oversight/involvement with our Chinese colleagues. How this develops, remains to be seen. But, I think, change, of some sort, is in the air. This might be good for us, or might be bad. It may not happen until next year, or may happen next semester (with Juniors at least). No one really knows.

Thinking about how to describe 2016, the word I would probably use is ‘interesting’. It was an interesting year, good or bad. Already, 2017 looks to be equally as interesting, and full of changes, both at school and elsewhere. I’m not sure whether that will have a positive or negative effective, but I try to remain hopeful. Happy New Year. 😊

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