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#PREPpeople: Ting Gao
Posted 05/10/2020 11:05AM

#PREPpeople is one in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John's Prep

Hometown: Beijing, China

Education: M.Ed., Northeastern University; B.A. in Education, Capital Normal University (Beijing)

Years at St. John’s: 5 years

Subject: Chinese Language

Describe a teacher who inspires: ”St. John’s Prep German teacher Chris Lynch. On my first day of new teacher orientation, I heard a Prep graduate, who now works at the Prep, recalling how much fun he had in Mr. Lynch’s class. Even years later, he still remembered the stories, jokes, and projects they did in his class. At that time, I hoped that I could become such a teacher. Later, I found that Chris was not only humorous, but also extremely serious about his work. His passion for teaching and as editor of the school yearbook, his love for students, and his care for colleagues have made me feel the warmth of the St. John’s community and inspired me to become a better teacher, like him.”

Classroom lessons evolve, but what’s an exercise, unit, or concept you look forward to teaching every year and why? “Students love my ‘dating’ unit best. Let me explain! In Chinese 4, we explore Chinese society’s outlook on love and marriage, including the traditions involved and how it’s evolved. In the past, students have told me this unit served as motivation for them to continue to take Chinese (so they could reach level 4)! I also like to see the kinds of interesting research students do when we cover Confucius and Confucianism. This type of study has given students a more authentic sense of how to communicate with Chinese people. This is not just a grammar and vocabulary class, it’s a Chinese culture class.”

List four traits or tactics you think are crucial to a gratifying teaching career?
Caring: “While it’s not possible to love your students as you do your own children, they can still be your beloved students.” Self-deprecation: “Showing students an imperfect image of myself as opposed to being a ‘good-at-everything’ teacher makes us more relatable to one another. It’s also an excellent way to loosen up the room when I mispronounce English words with a Chinese accent.” Organization: “It makes my life happier and students’ lives easier. Every time when I read students’ feedback at the end of year, most of them mention how much they appreciate the organized setting they encounter in terms of expectations and assignments in our class.” Passion: “I believe most teachers are passionate about teaching. The satisfaction of teaching makes my life happy.”

What’s the most insightful thing a student has ever said to you? “One month ago, when we just started remote learning, I received this email from one of my seniors:”

‘Hi Gao Laoshi,
I’m just checking in to say that I really appreciate how you’ve set up the learning schedule for (remote learning). I love the weekly layout and familiar assignments that are well organized in the study guide. I just wanted to thank you. I hope you and your family are doing well and I can’t wait to hopefully get back to school soon.’

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do for a living? “I would love to try to be a dolphin trainer or an interior designer.”

Fun fact: “I have watched a 76-episode Chinese teleplay called “Empresses in the Palace” more than 30 times.”

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