When I reached out to our teachers for nominations for June's Teacher of the Month on our Instagram, I was flooded with responses. One that stood out for me was Mike Keogh, who was nominated by a friend who said he has been working extremely hard and going the extra mile for his students. I haven't met Mike personally but when I asked a colleague about him, they said he was a really cool guy with a great sense of humour. When we got chatting and from his responses to my questions, I can definitely attest to that.
Mike is from a small town in Ireland, Killarney, and has been in Shanghai for a few months now. He's been teaching on and off since 2015; so he has some great experience behind him! Here is what he had to say about his time teaching in Shanghai:
What do you love most about life in China?
"It is tough to nail down a specific part so I’m going to say everything. The culture, the social life, the history I could go on. There is so much to see and do in China it is hard to pinpoint an exact thing. The people you meet are also a big bonus as well when coming to China. Even if it’s just among the other ex-pats you meet, you interact with so many different people from so many different places it broadens your horizons. With everything that has been going on the only other city I have seen is Nanjing so I am hoping to get out there soon and see the rest of China."
What's your go-to game in class?
"[It] depends on the level but my favourites are with my K classes. I usually go with the hammer game or monster chair. The more animated the better as I feel the kids learn the words better the more fun they have, especially when they get to hit the teacher with the hammer. Monster chair is hilarious to watch as the kids need to say and hit the flashcard before they wake the monster
What has been the most memorable teaching moment?
"It’s when the kids start to really enjoy coming to your class. In one of my K classes, I have a girl who was terrified of every class when she saw me and would cry. The amount of stickers I had to bribe her with to get her to stop crying was comical. This happened for weeks until eventually she cried less and began to love coming class and is now one of my best students and is nearly always the last to leave."
Words of advice for new teachers coming to China?
"Never say no to KTV…..But really get out there and enjoy it. Make the most of your time here, be it soaking up the sun at a park, eating amazing food, or visiting the local sights. Just take it day by day, even if it’s just picking a direction and walking that way or picking a metro stop and getting off there and exploring that area; just do it. There is so much to see and experience in China it can be daunting to new people, I know it was for me. So just go out and have the craic* (see the end of the post for the pronunciation and meaning). On the teaching side of things just have fun and communicate with your co-workers. When the kids see you having fun then they start to enjoy class more."
*Craic (/kræk/ KRAK) or crack is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland. It is often used with the definite article – the craic – as in the expression "What's the craic?" (meaning "How are you?" or "What's happening?"