The last two weeks preparing for our trip to China have been amazing. While the first week focused on the history and culture of China, the second was geared towards teaching at Tsinghua University.
It was challenging to come up with a lesson that included both an American cultural element and an English language element; it was even more nerve-racking to present it to the class. But I know the challenge only helped to prepare me for the three weeks I’ll spend teaching at Tsinghua. One of the difficulties I had was knowing how to balance just straight lecturing with the activity. The activity portion of the lesson is supposed to be interactive and get the students talking but it was difficult to: work in the appropriate amount of time with the activity, factor in the time it takes to answer questions, and come up with an activity the students will enjoy to begin with.
My lesson ended up being a combination of the American court system and my experiences on UF’s Mock Trial Team. In hindsight I could have scrapped some of the court stuff and just stuck with Mock Trial. It’s more fun to hear about other peoples’ personal experiences than it is to just be lectured at about the court system. For my activity I originally wanted to assign roles and have the class do a real mock trial, but I realized it was just too complicated. Part of what makes mock trial so time consuming is putting everything into context. Not only do you have to know the structure and procedure of a trial, but you also have to know the characters and background of the case. To introduce even a simplified case, and explain the different roles in the courtroom, and have everything flow in the correct order would have just taken too long. Maybe in China I could turn it into a two-day lesson, but for the purposes of our classroom simulation I decided to switch some things around at the last minute. We ended up learning about alibis and having some students aka “suspects”, come up with alibis in pairs and then “sequestering” one of them while the assigned “attorneys” asked questions to try and trip them up.
I think it went well and it was exciting to see my lesson actually come together after thinking about it for so long. I’m anxious to get more lessons and activities together and to start finishing up my preparations for Beijing and Tsinghua! I still have gifts to buy, and can’t wait to finally have an excuse to buy excessive amounts of Gator Gear.
After our two-week class I can’t imagine heading off to China without the information and experiences from those important 10 days. From learning about the culture of the country to improving our teaching skills to “Real Talk” with our fearless leader Jason, I know those two weeks were essential to a successful trip. With less than a month before we depart, and after our class I most definitely feel prepped, trained, and ready to go! Beijing here we come!