Like most things in China, getting your schedule and class list is a last minute thing. Despite it being prepared months ago, I didn’t get my schedule until three days before class started. And I only got it that early because I bugged as many people as I could. (If I didn’t bother anyone with several e-mails I would have gotten my schedule the morning before class started. Sigh.)
Even after the first week of class I still haven’t gotten a class list. Something about it not even being in the computer system. But I’m required to take attendance everyday. So what to do?
I gave my students a piece of paper and told them to write down their name and student number. Then I gave them three minutes and said “draw a picture of yourself.”
I was curious to see how they would react to it. They don’t do things like that in class here. And I was afraid if I gave them too much time, like 5 minutes, they would take out their phones and copy a picture from the internet. I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Some students had some trouble with it:
But some students just went for it. Even though they giggled at how bad their drawing were, and they tried to shy away from me in embarrassment when I collected them, I think they did a great job and I saw their unique styles shine through.
I got the idea from a Lynda Barry book called Syllabus. The book is her class syllabus for when she taught writing. The book has a ton of ideas for sparking creativity and I’m going to try to sneak some into class this semester. These students aren’t used to foreign teachers, and our “wacky” teaching styles. They were a tough nut to crack last semester (especially compared to my babies from last year). But I think after one semester I’ve broken them in a little and they feel a bit safer doing unusual things and saying unusual things.
I’ll let you know in 15 weeks how my grand scheme worked out.