When I learned that my school's specialty was the Chinese yo-yo, I did not think much of it. As a new English teacher at Jin Ding Elementary, my main focus was getting to know my schooland planning for my classes. I never imagined that within the first week of school I would get a Chinese yo-yo of my own, northat this instrument would serve a key role in my first few months.
During the first few days of school I spent most of my Chinese yo-yo time watching. Their yo-yos seemed to spin so fast. The girls spun so gracefully as they tossed their yo-yos up and down, back and forth. Even the youngest students made it look so effortless.
As I stood in the corner of the gym mesmerized, a group of younger students approached me and attempted to show me how to begin using my own yo-yo. The students giggled along with me each time the yo-yo fell off the string and rolled across the gymfloor. After patient guidance and instruction from our professional teacher I became steadier with my Chinese yo-yo. As my comfort level rose, so did my connections with the students.
Chinese yo-yo became an unexpected way for me to bond with my students. Each day I look forward to break times when I can go to the gym and amgreeted by excited faces, amidst a background of colorful, flying yo-yos. It is a part of the day when my students and I can spend time together without the pressures and requirements of the classroom. The students see their teacher working hard to acquire a skill that is often difficult but also frequently rewarding.
My own learning process with the Chinese yo-yo can be compared in many ways to my students' English education. Learning new things takes time, dedication, and most importantly failure. By witnessing their teacher go through the learning process, I believe my students feel more comfortable with me. They see that just like them, I too struggle with new things. They are there to show me new moves to try, laugh with me when I mess up, and cheer when I am successful. Inonly a couple of months the students have seen my own confidence grow, just as have I seen their confidence, skill, and comfort levels grow as well.
Although most of our communication is limited to simple cheers, laughter, and smiles, my students take the lead as my teachers, and this has opened up a whole new world of communication for us. Now, the students feel more comfortable with me, and are willing to take more risks both inside the language-learning classroom and beyond. Without being able to speak each other's languages with proficiency, my students and I have found a way to communicate, and we have the Chinese yo-yo to thank for that.