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The Good, the Bad & the Naughty, a short story from China.

The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story Leighton Travels

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

After a prolonged period of stability, I finally bid Belgium farewell in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and traveling.


“Good afternoon Krista, how are you?” I chirped, bouncing into the classroom. “I’M FINE THANK YOU, AND YOU?” came her robotic reply. In fact, so ingrained was this response that Krista didn’t even look up from the hairband she was twiddling with. For her the conversation was now over, her duty done. Any answer I might have to how I was actually doing was completely inconsequential.

“Nooooo…” I replied, patiently. 

I was sat on my ridiculously small chair at a ridiculously small table. My three ridiculously small students gazing up at me like wide-eyed Liliputians. “Oh… yes” laughed Krista, shaking herself as she remembered what we’d been working on for almost two weeks now. “I’m happy today!” she beamed. “Very good!” I trilled, giving her a high five.

“What about you Max, how are you?” “I’m tired…. and good” he replied confidently, clearly pleased that Krista’s sloppiness had paved the way for him to shine.

Max and Nini The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

Max with Nini, my classroom assistant.

“Simon, how are you today?” Simon had been the first to embrace my radical change of policy on the how are you question. He’d been quick to learn the new adjectives I’d introduced. Moreover, armed with a new arsenal of words, he now took the question very seriously. “I’m hungry,” he said thoughtfully, scratching his chin. “But happy”.

The Good The Bad and the Naughty a short story

Max (left), Simon and Krista.

Max, Krista and Simon were my strongest group. Three of the brightest, most curious and enthusiastic kids at the school. They came to my classes with open minds and wide smiles. They followed the course books without complaint, sang along to all the songs and weren’t shy about asking me questions if they didn’t understand.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Memoirs of a Beijing English teacher.

Krista and Simon. September, 2009.

“Your lesson very different from their school!” smiled Nini, my Chinese classroom assistant. “In China school you must stand, listen to teacher and repeat. Maybe you don’t understand everything. Anyway, you just need mimic, stay out of trouble”.


The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Unfortunately, school life wasn’t all a glorious bundle of Kristas, Maxes and Simons. I also had the nightmarish combo of Tom, Jack and Justin. Twice a week, without fail, these guys served up sixty minutes of pure hell. All three had zero interest in me or my classes. Instead, they passed the time play fighting, making monkey noises and flinging the contents of their pencil cases around the room.

Teaching a nightmare class of children EFL

The terrible trio.

In less frantic moments, Tom stared out the window while Justin chatted to Nini in Chinese. Jack usually sat humming to himself, his hands interlocked behind his head. The silliest of silly smiles pasted across his face, like he was having the best daydream ever.

“Justin, sit down!” I’d say, roughly twenty times a lesson.

The Good The Bad and the Naughty short story Beijing

Justin (left) Jack (middle) and Tom. A real handful.

“Jack, no Chinese!” “Tom, what are you doing?” It was a rhetorical question really, as it was painfully obvious what he was doing. Right In the middle of what was supposed to be a listening exercise, he was digging his fingers around in his nostrils. 

“Why are you doing that?” Nini barked at him. “Because I’m hungry!” whined Tom. If only he’d been able to produce any of those words in English. I tried everything with those guys. Attacking them with positivity, getting strict, developing levels of patience I never knew I had. But nothing made a scrap of difference.

The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story Leighton Travels

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

One day, while I was failing to teach them a song, Justin stole Tom’s pencil and broke it in half, just for kicks. This sparked ten minutes of total carnage. Tom punched Justin in the stomach. Justin retaliated by scratching Tom’s face. A highly amused spectator, Jack rolled around on the floor laughing and clapping his hands like an unhinged hyena.

It was my breaking point. That evening I spoke to Trudy, explaining that their behaviour was unacceptable and that linguistically there had been little to no progress. “Keep going!” she told me with a placid smile. “Let’s just wait and see. Their parents pay a lot of money, we don’t want them think there is a problem”.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

The good the bad and the naughty a short story from China.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

The Justin, Jack and Tom situation inspired me to introduce a sticker chart system for good behaviour. One afternoon, Trudy arrived armed with a mountain of stickers. There were robots, monsters and racing cars for the boys. Princesses, butterflies and mermaids for the girls.

As self-appointed Sticker God Warlord, it was up to me how many stickers each kid got. If you were nailing it in class, there was the potential to earn a maximum of three stickers. A solid performance, tempered by a few misdemeanours, and you might get two stickers.

Stickers for kids.

Stickers, stickers, stickers.

Alternatively, if you were Justin, Jack or Tom, chances are you were looking at one sticker, sometimes zero. Once a kid received 100 stickers, they got a prize of some description. It might be a teddy bear, a pencil case, or a toy robot. Depending on the kid’s age and interests. 

“Leighton, Tom is very angry that he receives zero stickers”.  

It was Nini at my desk, looking concerned at the end of class. “He wants to know why”. “Let me see…” I responded, Tom glaring at me all the while from behind Nini. “I think it might be because he spat in Jack’s face. Or maybe when he threw his book at the wall”.

Sticker charts EFL classroom management The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from Beijing

Sticker disappointment for Tom.

For the most part the sticker system worked a treat. Especially in my reading class with the adorable Sonia, Krista’s little sister. She was a lovable six-year old scamp with boundless energy and a mischievous spirit that refused to be tamed.

“Hello Mr. Leighton!!!” she’d squeal, whenever she saw me. 

Teaching Sonia The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

Sonia. September 2009.

In class Sonia could be manic at times, but she always spoke to me in English. She particularly enjoyed the storybooks we read together and would howl with laughter about how evil Mr. Wolf was. Or about the silly Cat in the Hat.

“How many stickers today?” she asked me one afternoon, balancing precariously on the edge of her seat. “Hmm, I think…. three!” “Yeeeees!!!!” she shrieked, launching herself at me violently. She literally bounced off my chest and hit the floor with a thud before scampering off to inspect the sticker chart.

The Good the Bad and the Naughty Leighton Travels

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Sonia enjoyed her lessons so much, she often lost patience with having to wait her turn. On more than one occasion she came crashing through the door in the middle of one of my classes. My bemused students could only look on as Nini dragged her back to the play area. “Oh, my sister is too silly!” Krista would say with a shake of her head.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

Like most of the kids I taught, Sonia lived in MOMA, the residential complex in which the school operated. It was literally a three minute walk from her building block to the school door. Thus she would often come to hang out in the play area, regardless of whether she had class or not. This of course was the perfect opportunity to unceremoniously grab me during my ten minute break between lessons.

“Mr. Leighton, come tea with me!” she’d yell.

She always made a grand show of pouring me an imaginary cup of tea. “Do you like it?” she’d ask, sitting up straight, stroking her hair theatrically. “Why Ms. Sonia, this tea is utterly delightful” came my reply every time. This always caused Sonia to tilt her head up regally and nod in agreement. “Yes… delightful!” 

The Good the Bad and the Naughty Challenged in China

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

In addition to the tea routine, Sonia loved presenting me with the toy doctor’s kit. “Sit down please Mr. Leighton!” she’d say seriously, putting on the stethoscope. She’d then press the resonator against my head/arm/hand/knee, before despatching a grim “Uh oh… Mr. Leighton… this is not good!”

Playing doctor The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

“It’s terminal!” Sonia delivers the bad news.

With most kids aged between six and eight, I really enjoyed the few classes where I could actually chat with my students. Aside from Sonia, there was also a pair of MOMA cousins, Louis and Tim. Their English level was good for their respective ages. As a result, we were able to have proper conversations. Well, kind of. 

Both Louis and Tim were highly impressionable and wide-eyed, perpetually fascinated by the differences between English and Chinese culture. “What?! You mean people in London DON’T eat rice every day!!?” exclaimed Louis.

Good Bad Naughty a short story from China

Louis and Tim (right) reacting to #ricegate

“Teacher… is true people in Britains making the marry many times? My mother say for you is like changing socks. New wife… old wife… new wife again”. “How many wife you had?” asked Tim, sounding genuinely concerned.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Louis and Tom The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

Louis and Tim chilling in the play room.

It was always entertaining with those two, even if sometimes I grew bored of their tiresome rivalry and constant bickering. Whenever we played a game, they would battle it out as if their lives depended on it. “You’re cheating!” wailed  Tim, when Louis rolled a six on the dice, moving him way ahead on the board game I’d custom made for their course book vocabulary. 

Teaching English in Beijing 2009-2010.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

“Teacher, Tim pronounce that word wrong,” complained Louis. Desperate to be the first to finish a workbook exercise, they’d scribble themselves into a competitive frenzy. “FINISHED!!!!” screamed Tim, so aggressively he was literally panting. “NO, I WAS FIRST!” countered Louis, his face reddening. 

The Good the Bad and the Naughty Teaching English to kids in Beijing

Never a dull moment with Louis and Tim.

“Teacher, I think three stickers for me today” suggested Louis one evening. “But only one for Tim because he make many mistake”. “Nooooo!” roared Tim, pushing Louis in the chest and knocking his glass of water over. The resulting spill soaked Louis’ course book and narrowly missed my laptop.


As challenging as my lessons sometimes were, S was definitely having a tougher time. It was her first teaching job and all her kids were aged between three and five, with little to no language ability. 

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Dark rainclouds teaching English in Beijing

S, like me, unaware of the dark clouds that would soon hover over the school.

Her most challenging student was an autistic boy called Deric. It took S nearly a month to get him to start producing single words. Even then Deric lumped a heavy “a” onto everything he said, from “Deric-a” and “book-a” to “yes-a” and “dog-a”. 

Some days, Deric was so distracted he failed to even acknowledge her presence in the room. Turning to Trudy for advice, we learned that autism was something of a taboo in China. “Mm, I think maybe his parents will not accept this,” mused Trudy. 

The Good the Bad & the Naughty a short story from China.

Deric. September 2009.

S also taught a gorgeous three year old girl called Yo Yo. She was a tiny little thing who could barely stand up unassisted. Which often led us to question what the hell she was doing taking English lessons. 

“Yoyo family very rich” whispered Trudy. Her father work in oil. They have three floors of one MOMA building”. Most days S and Yoyo simply played with toys and drew pictures. It was certainly a proud day when, after months of practice, she finally answered the question “What’s your name?” “Yoyo!!!!” cried Yoyo with a wonky smile, before losing her balance and falling over.

“I want to take her home!” announced S, doe-eyed.

“Do you think her mother would notice?”

The adorable Yoyo The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

Yoyo. September 2009.

It was the 1st of October 2009 and we had the day off for the 60th anniversary of The People’s Republic of China! Hearing that there was going to be a huge military parade on Tiananmen Square, we initially thought we could go to watch. However, it soon became clear that the event was invitation only, with insane levels of security. 

“Don’t even go near Tiananmen that day!” advised Richard over the phone. “The police go NUTS at times like this. Sometimes foreigners get arrested just for looking at someone the wrong way”.

60th anniversary of The People’s Republic of China 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

“You can come to school and watch on TV” offered Trudy. “It will be something amazing…. very proud for China … many important people!” Hence we headed to school that morning to catch the show, armed with a flask of coffee and a bag of mooncakes.

Oh lord, how I loved those mooncakes. Traditionally eaten during Mid Autumn Festival, visually they resemble the British pork pie. Except they aren’t filled with meat. Rather, fillings vary from red bean, mango and date, to lotus flower, durian and a host of similarly offbeat flavours. I liked just about everything I tried, even the weird salty ones that had a dried egg yolk plonked in the middle.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Mooncake October Golden Week National Holiday China

Mooncake, baby!

The military parade was mental, what with its cloned soldiers, trumpet-playing sailors and fighter jets spouting streams of coloured smoke. I’d been expecting the general tone to be “Happy Birthday Everyone!” But actually the overriding sentiment was “look at our weapons bitches!!”

And look we did, the screen overflowing with machine gun-wielding women and a convoy of colossal tanks. Furthermore, just when we thought we’d seen it all, a line of trucks clanked into view carrying a number of long-range nuclear missiles.

Dudes in tanks 60th anniversary of The People’s Republic of China

The People’s Republic of China’s 60th anniversary celebrations

Every now and then the camera panned to the crowd. People whooped and clapped with joy, some of them so overwhelmed by the occasion they began openly sobbing. The coverage also treated us to regular shots of a serious-looking President Hu Jintao dressed in a slate-grey Chairman Mao style tunic. Watching it all unfold in the silence of the empty school was a captivating, bewildering experience I’ll never forget. 

Beijingers celebrating 60th anniversary of The People’s Republic of China

The People’s Republic of China 60th anniversary celebrations Beijing.

The birthday parade marked the beginning of a weeklong national holiday. For us, this meant no classes and the perfect opportunity to do some Beijing exploring. First on our list were the delights of Chaoyang Park, Beijing’s largest green area. The government had shut down a chunk of the city’s factories prior to the parade, so it was a rare day of beautiful clear blue skies. 

Father and son enjoying the sunshine in Chaoyang Park Beijing

Chaoyang Park, Beijing.

Families picnicked together on the grass. Teenagers played soccer on an enclosed 5-a-side pitch. Groups of sullen teenagers sat huddled in mobile-phone bleeping circles. We also stumbled across a cool Bruce Lee Exhibition with its collection of rare film posters, movie costumes and collectible action dolls. 

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Bruce Lee Exhibition Beijing October 2009.

The Bruce Lee Exhibition, Chaoyang Park.

The holiday week went by in a flash. We paid a visit to Yuanming Yuan Ruins Park (Old Summer Palace), an extensive complex of gardens and palaces featuring some of China’s most impressive European architecture and fine art.

Yuanming Yuan Ruins The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), Beijing.

One evening, we went to a friend’s apartment in the residential district of Jinsong. The weather was still fine, so my friend Chris and I sat on the ledge by the open living room window. In the kitchen, Chris’ Chinese girlfriend Sofia was giving S a cooking class, the results of which we devoured for dinner. Finally, there was a dramatic sunset, the likes of which you don’t often see in Beijing.  

Sunset in Beijing October 2009.

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty, a short story from China.

Teacher, you see China birthday party on TV?” asked Louis back at school.

“Very cool, China so power!” echoed Tim in a rare show of unity. “If we want we can destroy anyone… like Japan” continued Louis, all starry-eyed. “Japan need be careful… Japan very bad! Teacher, Tim look at my homework, no three stickers today!” “Nooo!” screamed Tim, beating his fists down on the table. “Teacher he lie! He always lie, Louis bad like Japan!!!”

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

‘The Good, The Bad and the Naughty’ is the eleventh tale from my short story series Challenged in China.

I’ve also written hundreds of travel reports from all across China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • christinenovalarue


    August 16, 2023 - 3:58 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Being a teacher requires a lot of patience, you never know how the kids will be day to day. They sure do look adorable though. “unhinged hyena” gave me a chuckle, as did a lot of this post.

    August 16, 2023 - 4:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I can still picture Jack rolling around on the floor in full hyena mode. Patience is right, bags and bags of it. Thanks for reading Lyssy!

      August 16, 2023 - 5:44 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    I think teachers are super heroes and teachers of young children are saints. I could not do this job. My patience would be gone in the first few minutes. Listening to Louis and Tim talking about China’s 60th just shows how well a country or politician’s propaganda works. Well done China. Destroy all the bad guys and countries who are not as bad as you, but, by all means, do have a common enemy. Sigh. As a Canadian, I have seen first hand what China can do to a country that tries to stand up for what they think is right. Have a great day Leighton. Allan

    August 16, 2023 - 5:42 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I remember once, many years later, trying to convince an older Chinese students of mine that not all people in Japan were evil. He wouldn’t have it, telling me that his Chinese teacher at school had told him otherwise. Amazing. I think I know what you’re referring to re Chin and Canada relations. As for the patience, it’s funny because in my personal life I’ve never been the most patient guy in the world. But when teaching kids I’ve always had to reinvent myself whenever I step in the classroom. Cheers Allan.

      August 16, 2023 - 5:48 pm Reply
  • Memo

    I marvel at your energy and patience. You have to be very creative on a daily basis to deal with whatever the students will come up with today. I like the sticker idea. Some instant feedback and a bit of motivation. Of course, I’d be a consistent three stickers. Well, maybe two.

    August 16, 2023 - 6:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      If I were giving out stickers to folk who always read in full and leave thoughtful comments, you’d be 3 star every time Memo 😉 I really loved the creativity side of the job, the patient side not so much.

      August 16, 2023 - 6:30 pm Reply
  • Mallee Stanley

    It certainly sounds like you earned every cent or was it yuan.

    August 16, 2023 - 6:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It was Yuan, which back then was nice and strong. Though getting the money we saved that year out of the country proved to be another huge challenge thanks to stringent rules from banks. Just another part of the fun and games.

      August 16, 2023 - 9:19 pm Reply
    • Annie Berger

      Stunned at the number of comments your posts consistently receive but all absolutely deserving, Leighton. You had me glommed on devouring every word you wrote because of your humorous take on each student. Like others said, I would also be very curious to learn how those you taught are faring today! Great post and patience – very impressive.

      August 18, 2023 - 8:09 am Reply
      • Leighton

        Hey Annie, thank you so much for your warm words. I always enjoy sharing these short stories and noting readers’ various reactions. This first China series is a long one, so I’ve been staggering its publication in batches. These school years were rally fun to write up because I feel the characters are there, they just needed bringing to life on the page. Thanks again.

        August 18, 2023 - 8:25 am
  • Toonsarah

    So interesting to read of your teaching experiences, both positive and more challenging. I’m surprised the children nearly all have English names – does that reflect their parents’ ambitions for them?

    August 16, 2023 - 8:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Oh Sarah, the kids’ names thing is a whole subject that I will probably address in a future series (I have done three years in China overall). Nearly all Chinese kids learning English have “English” names. That first year we had some decent names (as you suggest some parents are clued up). But during my other contracts I got to see that the vast majority of Chinese kids had inappropriate and often ludicrous names. A sample of the worst would be: Planet, Tutu (a boy) Billiam, Lion, Nemo, Claire (a boy), Chocolate, I-blue, Gawain…

      August 16, 2023 - 9:27 pm Reply
      • Toonsarah

        Wow, that’s quite a collection of names and definitely worthy of a post!

        August 16, 2023 - 10:11 pm
  • Lingo in Transit

    Loved the stories Leighton. It had me laughing particularly the terrible trio although I’m sure you wanted to rip your hair out in those classes. I hope they’ve all grown into admirable students now.

    August 16, 2023 - 9:08 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you so much. I did try and make it humorous, even if it didn’t exactly feel hilarious at the time. I would love to have a brief window into their lives now. Did they make it to fluency? What are they doing with their lives now? I guess I’ll never know.

      August 16, 2023 - 9:29 pm Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    It seems to me that your patience with the naughty ones has earned you sainthood; well done Leighton. I don’t know how you survived each day. Teachers deserve a special place in history for their dedication, perseverance and sheer controlled endurance. I entered university as an elementary education major; your post confirms that I would have failed miserably. As always, I’m looking forward to reading more!

    August 16, 2023 - 9:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Aw thanks Tricia. Looking back, my teaching career as I know it sprang forth from that first year. I think I dealt with just about everything that could have been thrown at me, and in the long run it paid off. I ended up doing two more contracts in China over the years before eventually working for an online Chinese platform. Now we have our own business working exclusively with Chinese clients. All in all the country and its people have been very kind to me despite the wild ups and downs along the way.

      August 16, 2023 - 9:36 pm Reply
      • Travels Through My Lens

        That’s impressive Leighton. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

        August 16, 2023 - 9:46 pm
  • anoush

    Fantastic story, love your humour. It reminds me a touch of David Sedaris. Such cute kids and great experiences. Reading about your awful trio made me realise why teachers have such long vacations.

    August 16, 2023 - 9:34 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers, Anoush. I was actually quite into Sedaris when I was younger, particularly ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ and ‘Dress Your Family in ‘Corduroy and Denim’. Perhaps some of that rubbed off a little?! Damn, I miss those long vacations come to think of it.

      August 16, 2023 - 9:38 pm Reply
  • Stan

    i can only echo others in that your ability to deal with everything with so much patience and positivity was both impressive and admirable. you are a better man than i my friend. you had me laughing out loud countless times as this chapter is full of so many memorable characters. sonja is ADORABLE, tom & his sidekicks anything but. poor old japan surely the most misunderstood thing since doctor pepper

    August 16, 2023 - 9:52 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, maybe that’s an advert they should have run in China. “Japaaaaaan, so misunderstood!”

      August 16, 2023 - 9:55 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    I’m exhausted. How did you manage!? They sure start the propaganda lessons early don’t they?

    August 16, 2023 - 10:57 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m not sure how I managed. The exuberance and folly of youth? Yes, the narrative hits kids right from the off, no messin’.

      August 16, 2023 - 11:00 pm Reply
  • Anna

    I wouldn’t have lasted a day at that school without belting one of them. Lol. I have no patience for naughty kids. (Disclaimer – I don’t belt my child, have never laid a hand on her! Have never had to! Maybe she is terrified of me. Lol)

    August 17, 2023 - 2:59 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Speaking of belting, back in 2009 I heard of several students who were struck at school for misbehaviour. A rap across the knuckles or a whack on the ass. Seriously. I believe this doesn’t happen so much anymore, if at all.

      August 17, 2023 - 9:19 am Reply
      • Anna

        And without sounding like an old fuddy how is the not whacking working out today? Just look at the kids these days…. Many of them could do with some discipline (never thought I’d see the day I sound like my parents!!! Lol)

        August 17, 2023 - 10:50 am

    I don’t know where or how you found the patience!

    August 17, 2023 - 7:12 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for dropping by.

      August 17, 2023 - 9:20 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    I have no idea how you were able to stay so calm and collected around all those children, especially the troublemakers. I admire your ability to problem solve and come up with creative ways to entice better behaviour. I must say, I like the sound of this Sticker God Warlord! Haha. Even though there were some naughty kids, at least there were some good ones in there too to help balance things out and keep you motivated.

    August 17, 2023 - 2:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Sticker God Warlord, now THAT’S power. Somebody inform the writers at Marvel, Spiderman wouldn’t know what hit him. Thanks for reading guys, I think if every day had been a constant barrage of Toms, Justins and Jacks I probably would’ve walked after a month or so.

      August 18, 2023 - 8:27 am Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Please tell me that you added ‘Sticker God Warlord’ to your resume! This is why it really takes a special person to be a teacher- because there are those that capture your heart but there are also those that make you want to tear your hair out so it is a daily rollercoaster between them. Even though I love kids, I don’t know if I could be a teacher.

    August 18, 2023 - 5:06 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I hadn’t thought of putting Sticker God Warlord on the resume but I will now! 😉 It’s so funny Meg because I would say “Even though I love kids, I don’t know if I could be a parent|”. A lot of people in this thread have been commending me for my patience, but I’m not sure I was quite as calm and collected as perhaps the story suggests. Thanks for checking in, hugs to your family from sunny Armenia.

      August 18, 2023 - 8:30 am Reply
      • grandmisadventures

        Hugs to you and you and sladja from Tennessee 🙂

        August 18, 2023 - 8:26 pm
  • Rebecca

    Teaching requires putting on many hats: besides being a teacher, you’re also a motivator, a discipliner, and a comedian all rolled into one. Especially for teaching children in that age range…they are adorable, and I can imagine it must’ve been rewarding when they improve in English over time! The 60th anniversary of the PRC is more of a propaganda pull than anything (in my opinion), but having mooncakes and time off from work are definitely perks! Can’t wait to read more of your China teaching adventures soon!

    August 18, 2023 - 7:25 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Rebecca, appreciate you reading as always and for your valuable contributions to the various threads. You’re absolutely right about all the different hats a kids teacher needs. The “comedian” part really is essential. During my second Beijing year (2014-2015) I worked with a guy who in terms of schooling and experience was qualified to the hilt. He had certificates coming out of his ass and a killer resume. The thing is, he had absolutely no idea how to ‘connect’ with the kids. He was all methodology and no heart, it was an amazing thing to witness. The birthday celebrations… yeah propaganda central, but it was an incredible thing to witness. Somehow, when I look back at that, I always think of my first bite of mooncake.

      August 18, 2023 - 8:39 am Reply
  • littlelilly

    Hello, Leighton. I enjoyed reading about your wonderful teaching experiences. Your energy, patience, creativity, and sense of humour astound me. I’m also an educator, teaching high schoolers, and like you, that’s also my superpower. Thanks for sharing this lovely post. 🙂

    August 20, 2023 - 9:26 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Lily, thanks for reading and leaving such a lovely comment. I’m sure teaching high schoolers is also stressful and rewarding. Not a bad superpower to have. I have done a little teaching of teens over the years and found it much harder if truth be told. Power to you.

      August 20, 2023 - 9:48 am Reply
  • travelling_han

    Wow how are you so patient!! What a wonderful teacher you were to all of these children, they were very lucky to have you. On a separate note, I think there is something about the Japan-China relationship which is very complex. I definitely noticed in Hong Kong how the museums were incredibly anti-Japan (understandably when talking about the WW2 invasion and mass killings), so there is something in the consciousness. And I’m always up for a Bruce Lee exhibit too!

    August 20, 2023 - 2:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, absolutely something in the consciousness. Some years later I visited the city of Nanjing where I spent an afternoon at the harrowing Nanjing Massacre Memorial. That went a long way to understanding how such a widespread anti-Japanese feeling could have been built up. Thanks for checking in Hannah.

      August 20, 2023 - 10:23 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    There is always a ‘terrible trio’ in every class! I admire your patience Leighton … even though I think I’m pretty patient, Justin, Jack and Tom will land me in jail! Even Louis and Tim will make me tired – your story just makes me realise again why I never wanted to be a teacher 😬. I certainly won’t say no thanks to the mooncakes though (who comes up with such a name, I wonder). Haha, ‘Louis bad like Japan’ … I had a good laugh now 😂.

    August 21, 2023 - 1:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Glad you enjoyed this silliness Corna. Mooncakes are named so because of the harvest moon that appears during China’s National Holiday week (Mid-Autumn Festival). I wasn’t expecting much from them when I took my first bite because, frankly, you never quite know what you’re gonna get with food in China. Happily though they are delicious! Thanks for reading!

      August 21, 2023 - 1:48 pm Reply
  • Ashima sethi

    Nice storytelling.

    August 22, 2023 - 6:20 am Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Hi Leighton! I’m just back from spending five days with my grandsons in Alabama, and now I’m trying to catch up on everyone’s posts. I loved this one about the children. What precious babies you had in your charge – even if some of them were naughty. Do you ever wonder what they would be like now? You must have had the patience of a saint. I would love to try one of those beautiful mooncakes.

    August 22, 2023 - 5:23 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hi Kellye! Welcome back, I hope you had a great time in Alabama with the little ones. I occasionally wonder how some of them are getting on now and even if they remember me at all now that they’re young adults. Mooncakes are fantastic but sadly I’ve never been able to get hold of them outside of China.

      August 22, 2023 - 8:32 pm Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    It is always interesting how there are always so many personalities when teaching. The sticker chart was an awesome idea!!!

    September 1, 2023 - 11:10 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Great to have you back Allie, thanks for reading.

      September 2, 2023 - 8:05 am Reply

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