Sunday, March 21, 2010

The week in review

Sorry to go so long between posts, I was really feeling under the weather last week and spent most of the time sleeping or reading when not working.

My cold was mostly gone, but on Saturday there was a lot of dust in the air due to dust storms to the north, and so the cough is back with a bit of extra phlegm. Ugh.  It's now started raining so hopefully that will pull all the dust out of the air.

On Friday afternoon I stepped out the door of my apartment to return a textbook to my colleagues who live next door... and without thinking shut my door, locking myself out in my shorts and house slippers.  My colleagues phoned the school and let me sit in their apartment and study the textbooks while waiting for someone from school to come over with a key.  I was very thankful that someone could come over to let me in, it would have been awful if it were late at night and no one could come.

This week I had all my lesson plans finished before 10:00 pm on Friday, getting much better at this.  

Super Saturday, as one of my colleagues calls it, went well enough this week.  None of my classes was a total disaster.  I think I even made a little improvement with the group that refused to speak, although pairing up the students was a bit awkward as there was one girl who didn't seem to be willing to work with anyone, I think she is older than the others and sits alone at the back.  That is one advantage to public school teaching: the students in each class are generally all the same age and level.

In another class, I found I had loaded the wrong SmartBoard presentation on my flash drive and ended up having to use the version the Chinese teacher had brought.  That was winging it in the extreme, some things I had planned were missing, so I taught some sections of the book totally off the cuff.  Fortunately, they are my most advanced group, so I was able to stretch their talking out to fill the time. Hooray for the future tense, talking about the future is a pretty fertile topic.

This morning's classes at the university location were canceled, so I had the morning to rest a bit, it was quite welcome.  Some of the school's classes are sub-contracted at other locations.  I like teaching at the university because we have a real chalk board!  I love chalk!  The kids love chalk!  Games don't all have to be created in advance, and more than one kid can be at the board simultaneously.  It is so much more versatile.  Oh, and unlike white board pens or the smart board, chalk always works.

The one thing that is a hindrance is that the school doesn't provide any additional materials for offsite classes, such as flash cards etc., so I've been making my own and printing them at school, and have recently been warned that this is a no-no.  They can spend 20 grand each on SmartBoards for every classroom, but quibble over the cost of a few sheets run through the laser printer each week.  Frustrating.

This evening I did some salvage cooking of all the vegetables I bought last week but was too sick to be interested in cooking: carrots,  red and green bell peppers, onions and eggplant.  I started with oil, garlic, ginger in the wok, then added the onions.  Added the peppers.  Blanched the carrots and eggplant, and added them too soon to the wok, so had to cook the eggplant to mush while waiting for the peppers to cook.  I made a sauce of red miso, sugar, vinegar and chili paste and added it at the end.  The end result was pretty tasty, but I would omit the ginger next time as it overwhelmed the miso and chili flavors.

This was my second attempt with the eggplant, the Chinese variety that are shaped like bananas, not the big round kind we have at home.  The first time the eggplant took forever to cook, so this time I tried soaking it in salt water (read that somewhere) and then blanching it, but it still ended up mushy in texture.  Both times I sliced it crosswise.  I really love eggplant, and it's cheap and available here, so figuring out how to cook it properly will be an ongoing quest.

Looking forward to having Monday and Tuesday off without being sick or completely exhausted.  I have plans to go on a shopping expedition with a colleague on Monday.


  1. Joshooah Lovenkraft21 March, 2010 10:45

    I'm not sure if this would be helpful but I've seen a number of online collaborative flash card websites that might be handy for your students with things like vocab etc.

    Greetings from the west ~ Josh!

  2. Thank you, Josh. I will check that out. Nihao from the east.

  3. Thank you for keeping us posted on your progress. We sure miss you!
    Much love from Corinne & Terry

  4. Hi Corinne and Terry, I miss you too!!!!!!!!

  5. *waves*

    I've been reading up on Chinese eggplant, and I gather it doesn't need the salting the way the bigger eggplants do...

    saw these recipes:


  6. Thanks Mo, those are helpful! Will try the mthods on my next go. :)