Shang Qi Elementary School

2016-2017 ETA:  Kelly Rae <krae0719@gmail.com>

Location: Outskirts of Little Kinmen island

Commute: Long – you must drive from Jincheng (金城) to take the inter-island ferry at the Shuitou port (水頭) to Little Kinmen’s port, and then scooter to school for a total of 30 to 40 minutes one way. To get from Shangchi to biweekly meetings in Shanwai (山外), it takes about an hour, and you may have to rush your lunch. Don't let the commute scare you - it can be a time to relax, reflect, and bond with other Little Kinmen ETAs! 

Resources: Classrooms are equipped with computers, smartboards and projectors. The office is also well equipped with office supplies and what you do not have you can order. In past years. ETAs were provided a personal computer and desk in the office with 24-hour access.

Teaching: Teaching at Shang Qi is rewarding, fun, and inclusive, but requires a lot of independence. Prior teaching experience is not required, but extremely helpful when it comes to planning weekly classes. In 2016-17, the ETA co-taught 4 classes per week with an LET and solo-taught 12 classes per week with a tidayi, or school soldier. In past years, the ETA has been responsible for teaching grades 1-6. 

Average Class Size: The 1st through 6th grade population in 2015-16 was 58. The biggest class was 2nd grade with 13 students and the smallest was 5th grade with 7 students. Classes usually have around 10 students each.

Co-teachers: There is only one LET, who also serves as zhuren, or academic director. Your LET has outstanding English, several years of experience with the ETA program, and is a wonderful teacher that is very supportive of the ETA. Co-teaching with her is a cooperative, collaborative, and fun partnership.

Specialties: Ukulele; T-Ball; Swimming; Drums

Shang Qi (上岐) Elementary School is the smallest of the three schools in Little Kinmen. Because of its size, the ETA experience is expected to be very involved, immersed, and committed to the school and its students, including in activities that do not fall inside the ETA’s direct job description. Shang Qi requires an ETA who is comfortable with solo teaching, taking independent initiatives, and doing whatever it takes to fully immerse him/herself in the community, even if it means staying late for extra bonding activities or working on an occasional weekend. For example, since the teaching staff is small, the ETA is often asked to accompany the kids to various competitions at different schools and be very hands-on with English-related activities like Reader’s Theater (ETAs have written the script and choreographed the performance the last three years). Shang Qi has had a positive experience with the ETA program for the last five years, so the staff and students are accustomed to the ETA’s expectations and role and are generally very supportive.

Strong community bond

Most students live in a rural area and have known each other since they were very young. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the teachers and students, as most teachers live together in a dorm at school are also very involved in their students’ lives. After school, teachers often cook and eat together in the school cafeteria, while students hang around school to play outside until after dark. As one of the few teachers who does not live at school, the ETA’s extra effort to participate in the teachers’ mundane rituals is key to building relationships and is much appreciated. ETAs are usually welcomed to participate in non-English related activities. Just ask and jump in!

Small school team spirit

Because Shang Qi is so small, it often has to send younger kids to participate in competitions in order to meet the required number for team competitions. For example, at many schools the Reader’s Theater team is made up of mostly older students, whereas at Shang Qi, the team was made up of mostly 3rd and 4th graders this year. This allows younger students to participate in many different events, but it also means the same few older students are constantly preparing for a new competition or event, which can lead to burnout. Still, this has not stopped the teachers from participating in every county-wide contest, so the kids have become accustomed to constant training.

Creative and experiential learning

The teachers prioritize out-of-classroom experiences and take the students to birdwatch by the nearby lake, pick mulberries, cook desserts, and go on field trips. They will welcome your creative ideas both inside and outside the classroom. Cooking with students is fun and happens fairly regularly. The principal is an artist and specializes in making sculptures out of scraps from the junkyard. You will see these creations all over the school and may even have the opportunity to make one yourself! Several of the teachers are gifted musicians and artists, so there are constant music and art-related activities. The students also take ukulele classes, drum classes, and create sculptures and pottery in the school’s kiln.