Now that the final whistle has been blown, my keys and cafeteria card have been handed in, and I am officially no longer on the staff at RDFZ, I can, perhaps, reassess things a little more.
If you have been reading my deliberations over the past few months, you will know that I was undecided about whether to leave, and if so, where to go. Well, that’s sorted now, but do I still have a pang for staying at RDFZ? Yes, and no. Yes, because of the students, although I would not be able to teach my favourite students, even if I stayed. It’s true that I would probably see them around school, but it’s not exactly the same as having them in class every week. No, because, well I think a change, personally and professionally, will be good for me. Some of my colleagues’ attitudes towards a plethora of issues this year have been…. well, let me just say, have been different to my own.
It will be nice not to be faced with these sorts of attitudes next year (though my new colleagues may well hold similar views, I don’t know how often I will see them). Also, I believe that this year, there is a dearth of applicants to stay at the school, and one teacher has already dropped out. It is a big culture change to come half way across the world and teach.
My EDP students are not bad kids, but equally, they are my least favourite out of all the grades I teach, and the thought of wholly, or largely teaching them next year, was not that exciting a prospect. Many of my favourite Senior 2 students will move into Senior 3 and prepare for the gaokao – the college entrance exam. I wouldn’t be able to teach them anyway. My wonderful Senior 1 students will move into Senior 2 – and as we’ve already been told, next year no Senior students will have regular foreign teacher classes. Those Junior 2 students who I’ve enjoyed teaching will move into Junior 3, which again is a grade we don’t teach as they prepare for the zhongkao – the high school entrance exam.
I am currently packing up my things to move to my new accommodation (by way of the house of my tutee). I hate packing, but it does show how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the past two years, haha.
The past week I’ve been packing and having meals with students and staff. On Tuesday lunchtime, I had a very nice meal in a Yunnan restaurant (Yunnan is a province in the far southwest of China) with some Senior 2 students, then on Wednesday evening, I had a meal with an ex-teacher from RDFZ. They taught here last year, but this year they have started doing a PhD in Translation at Peking University. After that, Thursday lunch was spent at a nearby buffet barbeque restaurant with two Senior 1 students. It was nice to see them all and share a meal with them.
But right now, I’m preparing to leave and return to Blackburn. It will be nice to go home, but also a little weird. I haven’t been back in a year and so I have lots to catch up on. I also think I will have a busy summer…. I have my lessons to plan for next year, but I’d also like to get some research done, if at all possible, and then there is my Chinese, not to mention seeing friends and family etc…. We will see what happens!