Are you Helpful or Helpless?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

​WeChat groups are a common place where teachers go to find help and support. But sometimes things get messy. Feelings get hurt. Miscommuncations happen. People come for help, but leave upset. 

How can we create a better community? Here’s my simple idea:

Let’s pretend each chat group is a teachers lounge. A room where we are safe from students and parents. Pretend that we are all coworkers. 

“Hi Bob, how was your class?”

When someone walks in and asks for help, before making assumptions, let’s ask more clearly about the situation. Maybe they’re new or don’t know how to clearly state what they need? Maybe the admin of their school offers no support and often gives makes ridiculous and unrealistic requests in a short time period so that the teacher feels desperate and crazy (sound familiar?)

Do you remember that “Fresh off the boat” feeling?

I remember when I first came to China and didn’t know my way around the classrooms here. I had some experience back home but nothing prepares for you this. They didn’t let us observe. They threw us into the classroom after 2 days, feeling all jet lagged and freaked out. Training was a room full of other befuddled teachers and a photocopied page from a kindergarten book. We were told “teach a demo class to them”. No one had time to help us figure anything out or maybe they just didn’t care. Chinese teachers were resentful of our relaxed schedules and a salary that was double theirs. Getting them to help was a daily struggle. 

I had so much to learn, and little time to do it in. 

What did I do?

I did the best I could. I networked. I talked to as many people as I could, researched every place I could think of. And I promised to pay it forward. 

“Haven’t seen this? Or watched it a long time ago? Watch it now!”

That’s why I created this whole NETWORK for anyone who wants to be a better teacher. Not to find jobs or complain about racist job ads or to put each other down because of grammar/spelling errors, but to help each other the best we can. 

That said, I also don’t like to spoon feed others. I wish I could help everyone answer every question but I don’t always have the time. Also I think it’s important to let people learn by doing, not just telling them the answer. But I am only one teacher. 

HOWEVER if we all work together to help each other; the load will be much less and the number of teachers we help will be greater than I can do alone.  

Feeling Helpless?

That’s what this community is for! BUT please remember when you’re asking for help that you CAN do a little work first. Then when you’re stuck others can GUIDE you. 

Instead of saying “What game can I play with my class?”  give more information so that others can help you more quickly. 

Try something like “I have 25 six year olds that need to practice the alphabet in a 20-minute lesson and I have no TA or resources and the parents will be there, what can I do?” 

Some things to mention when you’re asking for help:

  • What age/levels are your students?
  • How many students in the class?
  • How long is the class? How often do you see that class?
  • What type of school do you work in?
  • What have you already tried?
  • What resources do you have available? (Flashcards, books, toys, paper?)

Want to be helpful?

Please remember when you’re giving help, don’t spoon feed and give them a quick answer. Help people learn how to get to the answer. Don’t just send a PDF of games, tell them were to find the PDF. 

TL:DR

My biggest advice is remember we are all in this together, and our goal is to help the students. Helping other teachers spreads the reach to more students. Those students are going to change the world. We shape the future. This is not some cheesy inspirational quote, it’s the truth. 

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