As far as the middle school goes, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I teach at a regular school in a different country with kids from all walks of life. Aside from a couple special days, I’m not given very much responsibility and act as a simple human tape recorder (forcing my Chicago accent upon the kids) and assistant to the main teacher. I try to tune out or laugh at the misbehavior, and cherish the students who show interest in conversation with me.
In the elementary schools though, I’m given complete responsibility over the lesson plans and teaching of the class. This gives me the opportunity to get creative, and teach kids the way I think they should be learning English through actual understanding and games. Most of the 6 though 12 year olds are wonderful. They get into the lessons, and even more into the games. After class they’ll help me clean up, ask me questions, and demand my autograph. Except for one grade at one school.
I’m still confused as to how the entire fourth and sixth grade classes can be so good at this school, but all three of the fifth grade classes completely unmanageable?!?! I’ve seen from the middle school that when a certain class is notoriously noisy, there will be two teachers in the room: one teaching, and one trying to control the unruly ones. The same technique is used with these 5th grade elementary school classes. The last time I taught there, this meant that two teachers were available to try to keep order while I taught. It didn’t work, and I ended up taking it upon myself (even though I’ve been told time and time again that it isn’t my responsibility to try to discipline the students) to separate the bad ones and move them to different parts of the room. It kind of worked. When I saw that I had to teach these 5th graders again, I re-evaluated the way I handled the classes last time. I kind of felt bad stopping class and taking time away from the good students, who actually wanted to learn, so told myself that I would just let the loud ones talk and hope for the other teachers to shush them.
So on Friday, we were learning how to give directions. (I had done the same lesson with 5th graders at a different school and it went great. It called for a fair amount of listening and concentration, but they were all able to get and enjoy it.) I started out teaching ‘turn left’ and ‘go straight’ and so on but just couldn't take the overpowering noise in the background. Out of a class of 40, when a third of the class is talking, I can’t hear myself, and I know that the students who are trying to pay attention can’t hear me either. I ended up being really nice and reasonable through half of the first class. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I yelled at the talkers, and succeeded in keeping them quiet. The second class has a REAL bad apple though. He was so bad that he came to my class halfway though because he was in trouble for something else from the class before. When he walked in, I gave him a worksheet and he took it and said, “I don't want it” and threw it to the floor. Whatever. I kept on teaching, and didn’t quite notice him move to the back to where his other bad friends were. Then, all of a sudden, I looked up just in time to see a paper airplane hit me!! Oh man, I was furious!! I grabbed the plane and marched right over to him and yelled “Why did you throw this at me?!?” Staring at the ground, he replied “I didn’t throw it at you, I threw it at the black board.” “Why did you throw it at the black board??!?!” Still looking at the ground, “I don’t know.” “Look at me!!” nothing. “Look at me!!” still nothing so I tapped/hit him on the head with that paper airplane and he finally looked up, shocked. I was so angry I knew I had to calm down or something really bad was about to happen. So, satisfied with the fact that he finally looked at me, I went back to the front, smiled, and continued where I had left off. Not even two minutes later, that boy stood up with another paper airplane, and walked up to me while I was in the middle of talking to the class. He said “in return” as he hit me with that paper airplane and went back to his seat on the ground. Oh, I could have broke him. I was fuming, which caused me to yell in English “Are you serious!?! You just hit a teacher. That was so rude!!” The supporting teacher finally took him out of class. I could tell that the good kids felt bad for me and put extra effort into volunteering for the rest of the class, which is what gets me so frustrated. The few horrible students give the entire 5th grade class at this school a bad name. Other teachers from other schools know how bad that class is, and it’s completely the fault of a select few. It prohibits the good kids from getting a good lesson and learning. The
Thank goodness it was Friday!! I escaped this town on the first train to the city and had two Margaritas with Colleen, Martin, and Chigusa. This was followed by some loud karaoke and then a weekend with my awesome family, which doesn’t deserve to be included in this same post.