Thursday, February 23, 2012

Episode 3: First Day

My "travel day" blog post has been postponed because I have pictures to process. So I apologize for the chronologically mismatched posts. My first day as student teacher:

My first full day in Macau already was spent at Hou Kong Premier School. And what a school it is! Dr. Gary Ballou, our field supervisor, is in town until the beginning of March and gave me a personal tour of the school, which caters to Pre-K-2nd grade. I met Jane Niu, the director of the school, who picked me up from the ferry from Hong Kong yesterday, Francis, who teaches a general primary class, and Suzanne Mok, the music teacher who has been teaching for five years here. My schedule consists of morning visit and introductions, introducing myself and my background to the teacher and students, and tomorrow I get to be the morning entertainment which will be interesting as I have not touched a piano for about a week.

I am awestruck at the level of education at the primary level. They are co-currently taught Mandarin and English, and are the sweetest things in their uniforms, greeting us in English. They are just like American kids- they're rowdy like American kids and they speak at the same ability level as American kids their age. The arts and crafts they have created are so advanced I couldn't stop but admire every single one of them. Instead of bells, they play classical music, an orchestrated Humoreske by Dvorak, The Happy Farmer by Schumann, and Vivaldi's Spring. They have ten practice rooms all with Yamaha U-1s, the standard upright grand pianos you can get in the world, running around $6k each. The piano room has about 20 U-1s in the same room, projection screens using document cameras to project what's being played on the keyboard.

I live on Taipa, the middle island, where residential areas, casinos, restaurants and shops, a full soccer stadium with surrounding track and practice fields all intermingle. My bike came through in one piece and am slowly putting it back together. I surveyed the area on the bicycles and transportation culture there, and the bicycles are definitely trash. It would be like driving a Lamborghini in a third world country. The automobiles on the other hand are the nicest things, some of which I haven't even heard of. They drive on the left side of the road, and are right-hand drive cars. I finished assembling my bike so I think I'm going to brave the roads to the southern island of rural Coloane tomorrow. As for jet-lag, I am not sure anymore if I'm jet-lagged from all the travelling, or just catching up from sleep. I fall asleep (no surprise to friends that know me) in places I shouldn't fall asleep, but that's been a problem my whole life so...

I met with Suzanne and talked about curriculum and went over the syllabus. The music classes teach music theory and the different kinds of instruments. They use the John Thompson's Piano Course. Looking through it briefly, it looks similar to the Alfred books with many illustrations and a focus on music reading. I get to assist Ms. Mok on teaching a lesson today on learning the school anthem. We'll see how it goes!

Until next time.

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