Katie teaches with the American High School Program in Jinan. She wrote this post for us on her Thanksgiving lesson and cooking in China.
Teaching English in China is an incredible experience. The students are dedicated, hard working and driven to absorb new knowledge. There is more time to develop meaningful lessons and reflect upon your teaching practices.
And living in a different culture is full of learning experiences and new adventures.
The most difficult part about teaching in China is being so far away from my family and friends. This can be especially challenging during the holidays.
The best way to get over this? Share the holiday traditions with my students! As an American Studies teacher I focus on American history, literature and culture in my classroom.
After covering the history of Thanksgiving in my classroom at the beginning of the school year, I thought it would be a disservice to my students if I did not spend a day sharing the traditions of the holiday on Thanksgiving Day. The lesson included food, spending time with family, football and Black Friday. I had the other foreign teachers tell the students how they spend Thanksgiving and their favourite part of the holiday.
The students LOVED having a real Thanksgiving experience. After having a sample of Thanksgiving food, they shared what they were thankful for. Many of them found that the food was too rich or too sweet.
Then I taught them the basics of football through video clips. This inspired a teacher vs. student football game the following week during lunchtime.
Finally I showed them some clips of Black Friday shopping. We had a meaningful discussion about the irony of Black Friday following Thanksgiving Day.
Making the feast was A LOT of work. First of all, finding all of the ingredients was parallel to a huge scavenger hunt between the imported stores in Jinan. Baking the food by myself for 83 students was not an easy task either. But in the end, the students reaction was extremely rewarding.
I think that having such experiences will help them understand or adjust to American life in the future (most of our students will go on to study abroad in America or a western university).
Next up… teaching them the holiday spirit and the many traditions surrounding Christmas.
Cover image: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States)