[[From the Desk of Jennifer Marlow]]
My homeroom teacher is a boss. He’s got the swagger. He’s got the cool, stoic, and collected personality. And he’s also got 37 seventh grade children to maintain.
One of the consistent goals of my time here at Dandelion thus far is to get to know my homeroom teacher. I respect him. He seems like a dedicated homeroom teacher and sincere person. At the end of every class day, after 9 o’clock at night when I’ve finished teaching the last culture class, he’s waiting outside the classroom to have one last talk with the students before dismissing them for the day, making sure that they know what homework assignments and subjects they should be studying for.
Watching him coach kids at basketball is really sweet and it’s clear that he puts a lot of energy into the students. Yesterday, even though he told me that he dislikes playing basketball, he stood in the middle of a huddle of seventh grade boys intensely demonstrating to them how to make better plays. After the championship match, when our class lost by a mere three points, he went off campus and came back with watermelon he bought out of his own pocket for all the students.
Still, I am a long way from accomplishing this goal. There’s often a sense of discomfort and many awkward silences. When I first arrived I would be excited at even the briefest of cordial conversations. I was nervous, and honestly often still am.
Recently the entire seventh grade went on their spring field trip to YuanMingYuan. On the way there during the two hour bus ride I sat with our English teacher (for classes 7-3 and 7-4) and had some really great conversation. For the ride back I slipped into my seat, expecting the seating arrangement to be the same, but somehow my homeroom teacher ended up sitting next to me.
For a few moments we awkwardly sat next to each other and I was tempted to feign sleep—or better yet actually sleep—for the rest of the bus ride. Instead, we struck up a conversation. Both of us were struggling to find a topic, but we were both attempting to make a connection, even when it was clear that we had little overlap in life experience. By the end of the conversation we had covered a wide array of topics, ranging from life in Beijing and road traffic, to policies of the United States military and gun control. We made comparisons between the cities in the United States and Beijing, and brought up topics that seemed relevant to the other person in order to communicate better.
Even though there has been significant progress in our dynamic, there remains lots of distance and awkwardness. But I think there’s understanding and familiarity that is different from before.
I really believe that there are things that I can learn from my home room teacher, both about teaching and life at Dandelion School. Even though it may be difficult at times, I want to continue taking opportunities to get to know him and the other teachers.