China is a country of picturesque landscapes. The Great wall and the Forbidden City makes it a place those who love to travel would put it at the top of their list of places to visit. One young lady has taken this a step further. She loves to travel and has been to China, and is returning to live there now.
Mikelle Moon, graduated from Shawnee State in May of 2017 in the teacher education program, however, this was not the end of a journey and the beginning of her adult life. Moon, unlike other Teacher Education graduates, started her journey when she did her student-teaching winter semester.
Moon, did her student teaching in Macau, China. And, because of this, she is preparing to return to China to officially be a teacher in the exact same school where she had earlier completed her college education.
When asked what made her decide to do her student teaching in China.
“I’ve always wanted to travel and I really like to experience other cultures, so this was a good way to do that,” Moon said. “And, Shawnee State University had a really good program for teaching in China. So I thought I’d just take the opportunity and try it out. I really liked doing it a lot and I’m really glad I had a good way to do something different, like you would not get a chance to do normally.
I had traveled before to Uganda, Africa, the summer before student teaching, and I volunteered as a teacher there and that was really the only time I had an experience in another culture.”
When Moon did her student teaching in China, she was there for four months from February to June. She did not stay in the same classroom over there the entire time, she was placed in multiple classrooms. There, she taught in grades three through eight. She said that it was a good age range. Plus, she taught both Social Studies and English. It was a little difficult to teach Social Studies, because you are teaching to students who all do not speak English and then, you are teaching Social Studies. During her time she had two cooperating teachers, one was for English and the other was for Social Studies.
As for which grade Moon liked the best, she said, “each grade had its own things that I liked about them, but I would probably say the younger grades, which I find opposite here in America. I think younger grades are more willing to try to speak English to me more open, meaning they are not afraid to participate and so it was just fun to teach them. I really enjoyed it. I think the older grades were a little bit more timid to step out of their comfort zone.”
Moon had completed her first semester last Fall at Minford Middle School in both the sixth and eighth grade teaching social studies and English. She then did not start the second semester of student teaching in January like all Shawnee State student teachers, because they were on break during that time so they had Chinese New Year. And they wanted me to come in when school started back again. I couldn’t have done my student teaching while they were on Chinese New Year break.
Moon said that she did have some students who could speak English really well, as some students had been learning English their whole lives. And, she also had students in her classroom that didn’t speak a word of English. It was difficult to plan lessons for that, she said that they (the Chinese) want all their lessons spoken in English, so the way they believe, is that it’s best for students is if there are words to learn. “Even if they don’t understand English, it is better to speak to them in English and they are hoping that they will just catch along, honestly.” She said that most of the schools in China wants this, not just the one she was in, or at least those that she heard. “I know definitely in Macau, (a little island off of Hong KonG), they do, that’s why they want English or native English speakers to come to the classrooms. It doesn’t matter if you know the language or not, they would rather have teachers who speak English.”
The length of the school day in China, Moon said that they start at 8:00am and go until 5pm, but they have a two hour lunch break. She said that usually during that lunch break, they take a nap like a universal nap. Moon said that they will eat their lunch and then the younger kids will go and sleep and the older kids would have that time to just do whatever they want and that they will walk around the city and just hang out. “That’s nice, but at the same time, you get out super late. It is a good thing and a bad thing.” She also said that they do kind of have year-round school because they do not have a three month summer break, they just have a month. They do, however, have a lot of different breaks during the school year.
As for comparing what Moon did at Minford Middle School and then what she did in China, she said that the lessons were a lot different. “I had a lot of freedom in what I wanted to teach, they do not have a strict curriculum to follow like here in Ohio. You can basically do whatever you want, by being as creative as you want, which was super nice. I really got free range on my lessons. The planning was a lot different, I wrote my lessons in English and did a lesson plan for each lesson I taught and then I would send them in to my teacher back here at Shawnee State.” Due to the fact that her teacher here could not come to China to observe her, she said her cooperating teachers in China would do a lot of evaluations, they would observe her and then write down feedback and questions and then they would send them in to her teacher at Shawnee.
“I definitely enjoyed doing this,” said Moon, which shows, as she is definitely going back. She has just received a message from her principal in China, that her work permit came in and she can go back at any time now. She had waiting for this, because she said it was a really long process. She didn’t know for sure when it would finally come in, but she’s very glad it has.
The Chinese school does provide an apartment for her in China, “I will have one roommate, who is a teacher, and she too is an American. She did the exact same thing that I did. So, it will kind of nice to have someone like that.” Moon expressed that even with all the things going on in the world, she was not afraid to go. “I really don’t look at it that way, I think that there is always something going on, if you are going to look at it like that, you are always gonna be afraid of something. I don’t think anything is going to happen.”
She is looking forward more to the adventure and opportunity, and she is real excited for that part, “I’m excited to get to travel more to learn more about the culture and to like put myself out there in new situations.”
Moon will be teaching different grades just like when she did her student teaching, but she says they are going to have her teach the lower grades, in the range of third grade on down. This too, will be nice and new for her also. She will as a teacher this time, be teaching English, not Social Studies.
Moon is an Ohio girl, she was born in Georgetown and was raised in Mt. Orab. Moon says her family is very supportive of her doing this, because they’ve known she has wanted to travel like this for a long time and they have accepted it. They are actually going to come see me around the one year mark. And I can still use all the different means of social media too, just like here.”
Opportunities to learn about new cultures and travel clear across the world, do no come around easily, and Moon is getting to start on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928