A typical week as a teacher for me starts with a 7am wake up call on Monday morning, proceeded by a frantic rush to get ready; then I’m out the door by 7:40. Clock-in at school is at 8am, and by 8:10 I’m in full teacher mode; meaning my smile is turned up to full blast and my voice is appropriately moderated to a higher, more child friendly pitch. The day starts with ‘morning sentence’, where the teachers organise and supervise kids as they play physical activities such as relay races and space hoppers. When it hits 8:30 it’s time to take my children to the classroom, where I serve them a pre-prepared breakfast and play a mini English game with the ones who have finished eating early.
My Typical Day as a Kindergarten Teacher
At 9am the real teaching begins with a 30-minute lesson. Class begins with a song, where all the children dance and sing along. This is usually followed by a short five to ten minute introductory chat where we discuss the weather, what day it is, what special class we have, and other general small talk. The remaining 20 minutes consist of introducing new vocabulary, and then playing a fun game that utilises the new vocab, for example: run to the correct flashcard.
At 9:30 the children head off to their ‘special class’, which varies from kung fu, tennis, dance, swimming, golf or P.E. which is then followed by playtime. By 11 am the children are ready for their second lesson, which is usuially a lot less structured than the first and is a time that the teachers organise a more fun lesson for the kids; this could consist of arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, or even just blowing bubbles for a chilled Friday afternoon.
After a lunch break and time used for preparing lessons, I have my homeroom class for an hour and clock out is at 5pm. Monday to Friday generally follow this routine, with a couple of exceptions such as cover classes and field trips.
Week Day Evenings
Monday-Thursday evenings usually entail me heading straight home, ordering in food on Meituan (Chinese version of deliveroo) or eating at school, browsing the web or watching a movie, then heading to bed. On Friday evenings I like to wind down from a busy teaching week and usually go out for a nice meal and drinks with my coworkers, or do a fun post work activity such as cinema, bowling, or even just a relaxed meet up at a friend’s house.
Exploring at the Weekend
On weekends, the world (or more specifically, China) is your oyster! This past weekend I exlpored a previously unventured part of Foshan where I discovered an arcade room that is every gamers fantasy, had ice cream as I wandered the booming shopping district of Dongfang plaza, and ate fro-yo to unwind from a busy day of walking. You can also occupy your weekends with a planned activity such as a one-off pottery class, which some of my friends did a few weekends ago and thoroughly enjoyed.
If you intend to use your stay in China to travel you can utilise your weekend to explore another city, which I shall be doing next weekend when I visit Shenzen. There is also a prospering night life to enjoy at the weekend, so you can choose from a bar in Foshan on Saturday evening, or travel a bit further and visit the booming nightclub district of ‘Party Pier’ in Guangzhou.
A typical working week in the life of an expat in China generally follows the rules of every 9am-5pm teaching job: teaching, planning, organising, having fun with children and engaging them to learn. However, it’s the weekends where you can choose to really make the most of living in a foreign country full of surprises, like China!