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“Bye Ms.  Giebitz!” a student called to me as he walked towards his father’s car.  He had just said, “Ms. Giebitz, you’re the best teacher in the whole world.  You’re as good as…as good as…Mr. XXX [my predecessor]!”

Talk about heaven!  These kids loved their former teacher.  This student was one of his favorites, according to my co-teacher.  I can get no higher praise than that.  He is a teacher with decades of experience who really knows his stuff.

This may be a honeymoon phase.  It made fade over time as we grow accustomed to each other, and I may feel dejected some day.  But today was a good day.

When I taught in China, when my students got “accustomed” to me, if it can be called that, they were still hesitant to engage, to speak their minds, to think for themselves sometimes.  But my students here are like cactus in the desert during a summer rain.  They soak it up and blossom in the most beautiful ways. They engage, lights turn on.

Sometimes they engage and hit a wall.  One student cried on my shoulder when the “Spend $1 Million” exercise proved far more difficult than she intended.  (A group of 4 or 5 students decide how to spend $1 Million together. The exercise helps the students translate between fractions, decimals and percentages, and to articulate their reasoning behind the groups’ decisions.)  The instructions were to only buy four to five really big things (a house, a car, etc.)  Their whiteboard had 10 items on it.  The math had become extremely difficult.  She thought the most important thing was to get it right, and to keep up with the other groups.  I tried to reassure her that she was doing exactly what she needed to do: learn.

I think I’m starting to get the hang of this teaching thing.  I know I’m starting to love it.

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