Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Am A Teacher/I Am A Birthday Party Entertainer

My best known Chinese word is “niao niao.” I say it constantly. “Niao niao?” “Do you have to go niao niao?” My students are two and three year old little pants-pee-ers, and we go niao niao a lot.

There’s hardly a better way to wake up in the morning (that is, of course, after a humid and sunny 30 minute saunter to work) than to put on your best un-scary face and entertain 11 babies. And they are babies, and I am a less-experienced teacher piloting the first ever Yo-Yo (tiny baby) class at Taoyuan Kindy. The best part: no one knows if I stink at my job. I’m literally making it up as I go, and there’s no rubric, guidelines, prescedent, nothing. Just me and my babies, learning about English, Chinese, and toilet usage.

Have you ever noticed how slowly toddlers eat? I get to watch them eat every morning. They love sweet buns and sweet soy milk, but they hate oatmeal and anything green. Sometimes I get my hands dirty and grab the spoon, doing the airplane and the choo-choo train, trying to force it down, but I usually let Teacher Lily and Teacher Pace do it. These are their babies too, (they are the Chinese Teachers), and they are amazing. And they have this fantastically frightening way of making the kids do just about anything…except eat quickly. So we spend a good part of the morning sitting around, watching snack digest into bathroom time.

The cast of characters: Alto, Oscar, Sannie, Angela, Wesley, Thomas, Chester, Yuka, Champ, Hans and Andy. Can you imagine how confusing it must be to a three year old to have two completely different names? Lucky me, I get to call them by the names they absolutely don’t recognize, so we also spend a lot of time running around the room waving apple-shaped name tags shouting “This is my name!” My favorite answer to the question “Sannie, what is your name?” is “Sanniewhatisyourname!” repeated nearly verbatim by the little pigtailed kid in question. She’s fabulous, but also very naughty. And so it goes.

The babies love to sing, or at least watch me sing and wave my arms around, so we sing a lot. Sort of. They also love to watch me blow up balloons and make the balloons make farting noises, so we do that a lot. But I swear they are learning. Alphabets and colors and how to stand in a line. Sort of. It turns out that this job is a lot like being a birthday party entertainer, so long as the jist of the activity is English centered. And everyone likes a good birthday, so as far as I can see, it’s mostly just fun. How lucky is that?

We go to the bathroom at least three times during English class. This is where I get to use my hard earning Chinese word – niao niao. I figured, there’s no need to punish the poor kids, who hardly even know Chinese, if they can’t recognize the word “pee pee” or “bathroom.” And since we have at least one wet set of pants a day, it’s necessary to stick to the driest approach. Oscar pooped on the floor last week, then stared at it for a good five minutes before we realized what was going on. The Chinese teachers and me, we’re bonding, one misguided bowel movement at a time.

My afternoons aren’t quite as hairy: I teach a curriculum to ages 7-11 very similar to a regular class at home. They love to use “pee” and “poo” in sentence substitutions, we just fly with it. They’ve come a long way from the tiny Yo-Yo urinals, so I figure they’ve earned it.

My week is full, but it is happy. Niao niao then, aren’t you impressed?


  1. Thank you Caitlin. You are blogging and us teachers should all be blogging about our entertaining days. Children bring out the best,

    Continue to make a difference.

  2. Hi my name is Elvira I'm in your moms digital citizenship class we had an assignment to do we had to choose a blog to read and I choose this one. You have a fun job working with all those kids I thought everything you said was funny because you have a lot of teaching to do the bathroom policy was pretty funny as well.well it was nice reading your blog I enjoined it. :)

  3. Hello Caitlin. My name is Leslie, I am one of your mom's students in her Digital Citizenship class. Today's assignment was to read a blog and comment on one. I of course chose yours to read. I thought it was cute when you were talking about the names and one of the babies answered your question by saying "Sanniewhatisyourname!". You must have tons of fun because you get to teach the babies how to do certain things. Yet I bet their a handful too sometimes. Seeing that you spend so much time with these babies, do you ever consider having some of your own kids in the near future? If you do, I think you would be a great mom, just like your lovely mom here :).

  4. Hello Caitlin, I'm Julienne from your mom's computer class. She always talks about you, but anyways, i really think that the little kids that you are teaching are adorable. And the word "niao niao" is funny because the way it sounds :). I also think that you are smart and cool because you have so much patients with your students cause I wouldn't think I could handle that.

    That's it for now, later :)

  5. Hi Caitlin :). My name is Allison and I am from your mom's Digital Citizenship class. I really love how you share all your experiences teaching in Taiwan. The stories about the babies you teach are very cute as well, and I love how you write things out.

    Have a great day!

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  7. Hi Caitlin (: My name is Eunice I am in your mom's computer class. I love how you share your experiences you had in Taiwan. Its sounds like you're are having a lot of fun with children.

    PS - "aww see" means to go poo.

  8. Hi Caitlin,
    Thank you so much for this link. I love reading about your adventures.
    You are an amazing young lady who i am very proud to have in my life. I think James is very special too!!!!! talk soon xxxxxxxx. Mary

  9. Hello Caitlin,
    My name is Christina and I am in your mother's digital citizenship class. Every Friday we have the chance to read different blogs and comment on them. I tend to choose your blog because I find it so interesting. It sounds so fun to just play with little kids all day and help them learn. I really liked your story about the little girl running up to you and showing you her name tag.
    I hope you keep posting.