This is Lauren Drazen’s tenth year teaching Chinese at Hall Aerial School, one of the two accessible aerial schools in West Hartford, Connecticut. Hall offers Chinese in grades 9–12, in levels I through AP. This year, of the 1,450 acceptance at Hall, 230 are belief Chinese. Next year, West Hartford will action Chinese in the average schools for the aboriginal time.
“How do you attract, and keep, so abounding acceptance in your Chinese program?”
“What’s the abstruse to your program’s success?”
These are the two questions I am asked over and over again.
Any success I accomplish as a abecedary has little to do with my assignment affairs or the specific curricular activities in which acceptance are engaged. Abundant of what my acceptance do is aloof like any added Chinese accent classroom about the country. Acceptance are speaking to anniversary other, alert to audio files and watching videos, commutual workbook exercises, autograph characters for homework, demography dictation quizzes, accomplishing projects, and demography tests. All too often, we agents get bent in the allurement of annoying about carrying a assigned curriculum, teaching a minimum cardinal of characters, and giving a assertive cardinal of tests.
My success in the classroom, and the advance and success of our Chinese program, is not from our curriculum, analysis scores, or characters learned. None of these things fulfills me as a teacher. They are absolutely not what propels acceptance to abstraction Chinese in aerial academy and beyond. Instead, success in the classroom is accompanying to a absorption on architecture relationships with my acceptance and creating a faculty of association in the classroom.
A lot of the affidavit why acceptance get absorbed on Chinese are due to the acquaint I advise them that are NOT Chinese. I try to adviser them against success in life, which translates into success in Chinese as well. Abounding of the “lessons” are based on my adventures belief Chinese and actuality in China. These include:
One assignment I advise is about antithesis as a activity objective. I explain that acceptance do not accept to be Taoist to accept the abstraction of yin and yang, or antithesis in the universe. Our ultimate ambition in activity should be beatitude and that does not agree with wealth. How bodies about the apple ascertain beatitude varies wildly, and abundance does not ascertain that happiness. Food, shelter, aegis … that’s all we absolutely need. I advance that as acceptance accomplish decisions, they do not undervalue beatitude for the account of affluence and overabundance. There is such a affair as too abundant wealth.
Many will altercate that the success of the affairs is not aloof about affiliation and community. They will say it’s partly because of my account “Fun Fridays.” I consistently accompany article to eat on Fridays. I broil cookies, accomplish dumplings, and accompany in Goldfish or bake-apple snacks. I additionally will comedy a cine or advise a Chinese art, like calligraphy, ball or bond tying. Sometimes I appearance an adorning YouTube video. This gives acceptance an befalling to decompress from their active schedules and adore academy in a stress-free atmosphere.
I acclimated to anguish about actuality advised for my teaching style. But here’s the thing: acceptance are learning. They go on to abstraction Chinese in academy and the advisers ask area they went to aerial school. They are afraid at students’ foundation, appearance base, pronunciation, and command of language. Acceptance of ours abode out of all the accessible courses at colleges.
In the end, this attitude in the Chinese I classroom at Hall Aerial Academy is not aloof about the food, or the fun activities and amateur we comedy on Fridays. When we are accepting fun together, we actualize a association of learners and the acceptance are motivated to excel.
Anyone can bear a curriculum, but to get acceptance to “buy in” and become passionate, we charge actualize a able association congenital on assurance and connection. When we do this, the acceptance affliction about succeeding. They assignment hard. When we accessible our hearts and get to apperceive our students, they appetite to succeed.
Some ability admiration why so abounding Hall acceptance are acquirements Chinese. The simple acknowledgment is: “Because it’s fun.” And that’s aloof what acquirements should be.
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