I am still incredibly inexperienced at teaching, and it's challenging in a number of different ways. I spend a lot of time figuring out what works, what doesn't, and what I need to focus on for my class. The lack of experience hurts. In addition, all the challenges that first year teachers face are exacerbated by teaching in rural China; my class has sixty students of wildly different backgrounds and cognitive ability that don't even necessarily speak Mandarin very well. It's hard.
All of this means that my students aren't doing as well as I'd like. I need to become a better teacher, but that's not something that happens quickly, and in the meantime my kids have to deal with somebody with a month and a half of teacher training, and about three months of teaching experience--it's not enough.
The conference I just went to, apart from living up to its nickname, also helped us all out by showing us that other first year fellows were facing similar challenges and setbacks, but that second year fellows were doing awesome things. The first semester of teaching is supposed to be an unmitigated disaster, and while it might be rough now, it will get better. (or I will crack and run away from my school crying. Hopefully the one that doesn't involve tears.)