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China Teacher Needs A Toolbelt of Tactics

With a thorough understanding of each student’s individuality, Ana Papic is a source of guidance and support in the classroom.

Teacher: Ana Papic
From: Croatia
School: Hanlin Experimental School
Grade Level: 9

What age group do you prefer to teach and why? 

I prefer to teach middle school because they are big enough to be creative and [they are] able to express themselves in many different ways. They’re also not high schoolers yet, and that’s a pretty tough age group, if you ask me.

You taught students before in Croatia. Is there any difference between teaching in Europe and Asia?

Kids are kids—they’re the same everywhere, and they need the same things. They look up to the teacher for guidance. However, when I am here [in China], the level of English is lower than I expected.

What are your daily challenges from teaching in China, and how do you overcome those obstacles?

My daily challenges would include classes with mixed abilities. You’ll have kids whose English is really amazing in class, and you’ll have kids whose English is at a lower level. That’s one of the biggest challenges. I try to prepare different sets of material for different level students in a class.

What do you think about parents’ and teachers’ pressure on students in China regarding academics?

I think when it comes to zhongkao and gaokao… they put a lot of pressure on the students. Some students don’t take those exams, or they don’t prepare for those exams and are still very hard working. I think it comes back to the family and how your grades are.

How do you deal with discipline in a classroom?

For me, discipline has never really been a problem—the kids understand that when we play, we play, and when we work, we work. I have high expectations for my students, and I do push them to study hard. I also praise them, encourage them and help them along the way. If I have a problem with a particular student, I will speak to that student outside of the classroom so that he doesn’t lose face. I solve the problem by connecting with the student first, because not every approach works for every student.