How's China?

I spent this Chinese New Year week vacation in New York. I fly home tomorrow, and I am exhausted. I tried to see as many family members and friends in the Tri-state area in a very short amount of time without access to a car, which turned out to be harder than I anticipated. Not impossible, but just a bit more difficult.

The one question that has been next to impossible to answer (in less than 2 sentences) is, "How's China?". As if it's as easy to answer as asking, "How's the weather?". China is fun, exciting, lonely, crazy, depressing and amazing all in the same breath. I really love my job, my students, my coworkers, my supervisors, my beautiful apartment, and the declining student loan balance on my credit file. I've realized that most people don't want to hear about that, though.

They only comprehend what is fed to them from the media. They want to know if the Chinese people really eat dog meat and what life is like living under "communism"(they fail to realize the US is the country that is over-policed and over-regulated. Ultimately, I feel more free in China than I do at home!). Most of my friends and family give me 30 seconds to describe my life in China before glazing over, so I have been answering their very vague question with three physical attributes of daily life.

May I introduce Chinglish, bad manners (spitting, burping, slurping, ear picking, nose picking in public) and bathroom humor (split bottom baby pants and squatty potties!).

Gymnastics Assessment

My 5th and 6th grade students just finished their gymnastics unit and completed a summative partner assessment. Each student observed their partner's performance of the "Superman" sequence, and completed a skills rubric to judge their partner's competency. The students worked hard and were dedicated to improving their straddle jumps, tuck jumps, forward rolls, shoulder rolls, pencil rolls and especially their tripods/headstands!! The students enjoyed performing to the Superman song, and "flying" high with their leaps!

Assessing the students in smaller groups allowed for maximum practice opportunities, more space for movement, higher student motivation since they are working with their friends, and immediate application of the feedback received from their partners. Videotaping their assessment kept the students' observations honest, and most students enjoyed being the "star" of the moment.

This assessment was successful because it reinforced student learning, both through practice and application of the material that was taught. It was also successful because the students performed tumbling skills in a realistic situation, and were not isolated in an artificial setting. I think most students enjoyed the challenges of this unit, specifically the tripod and headstand and enjoyed working with their classmates in a non-competitive sport. Lastly, they also improved their flexibility and muscular strength, and will continue to maintain these improvements in our future lessons.

Happy Chinese New Year!

This year (2012) is a Year of the Dragon. The dragon is considered the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac. Normally, CISS celebrates the CNY all-school assembly with local performers from the Shanghai community. However this year was a bit different. The students learned various traditional dances such as the Ta Ge (Green) Dance, Kung Fu Fan Dance, Lion Dance and Dragon Dance. The students were extremely proud to showcase the performances they were working so hard on, and it was great way to show respect and appreciation for Chinese culture. I am proud to be part of a community that has such dedicated students and staff, and can only wonder how we'll ever be able to top this year's performance next year!

Highlights from the ceremony here:

Lion dance featuring high school students:

How bad do you want it?

I'm overwhelmed with information on a daily basis, but sometimes certain things just click, and rock my heartstrings. This is a wonderful, inspiring clip about success. What does success mean to you? How bad do you want to be successful? Maybe not bad enough.

Originally a speech presented by Eric Thomas, (AKA the Hip-Hop preacher) this video is set to music by the group, Explosions in the Sky. This is the same music from Friday Night Lights, which is one of my favorite movies. The main theme song from FNLs makes me tear every time because I think of Booby Miles. I think of the students who have so much talent and try so hard, but don't quite "make it".

What happens to those kids? What happens to the kids who need our help the most? What happens to the kids who need teachers and coaches to believe in them? What happens to the kids who missed the opportunity to be successful? What happens when your talents are not developed enough to become a professional?

There's nothing more difficult than realizing your artistic vein can't give you a professional life.

I try so hard to inspire my students, and teach them what I want them to know about hard work and determination and motivation, but sometimes I worry it's not enough. How can I teach them to embrace opportunities and turn their dreams into a reality? How can I show them that even if they are not the best dancers, they can still translate their interests into careers in dance history, production, promotion, etc?

I am one of those kids. I want to keep dancing, and I need to want to dance, perform and choreograph more than I want to breathe. I need to focus on new opportunities, especially in a city as dynamic as Shanghai.

I really love this line: Don't try to quit! You're already in pain, get a reward from it! Pain is temporary; Success is forever!

A special thank you to my personal teachers, coaches and mentors who have never let me fail. Especially Janice Aguilera, who was the most patient and inspiring dance teacher I ever had.

Funny quote of the day:

This afternoon, I discovered a bunch of workout dvds in the dance room. One caught my eye because it was particularly cheesy/90's style aerobics.

I picked it up and said to my class, "Aren't you all glad I didn't make you do this workout??"

One student said, "Wow, that lady looks crazy".

I responded, "Actually, that lady is a man and his name is Richard Simmons."

Kids say the funniest things! ;)

1.2.3 Hip hop is ending...

In light of the first semester coming to an end this week, I have been teaching the final combination with music by Britney Spears. It's a bit tricky, but I wanted to give the more experienced dancers a final opportunity to be challenged. Although many of the less coordinated dancers are just as eager to keep up!

These same dancers are the ones who signed up for my elective because they thought hip hop looks cool on MTV and in music videos. These are the same dancers who realized my class would be very difficult without concentration, great skill and passion. These are the same dancers who performed onstage at our December gala filled with pride and energy. These are the same dancers who can now describe where hip hop originated, where hip hop is today, and how their future can be affected by hip hop, along with other forms of dancing.

I am so proud of their progress, and this final video is a true testament to the self-fulfilling prophecy. When teachers believe students can do something, they can accomplish many things!

Kids say the funniest things!

Student #1: How do you know what a serving size is for fruits and vegetables?
Student #2: Just look on the box, on the food label.
Me: Yes, normally that's the case but fruits and vegetables don't come in boxes!
Student #2: yeah, but what about cherry fruit roll ups???

That would be a no!!!

Wise words to start the new year...

Life is too short to wake up with regrets,
So love the people who treat you right,
Forget about the ones who don't.

Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.

If it changes your life, let it.

Nobody said life would be easy.
They just promised it would be worth it.