Friday, October 02, 2009

a SCARY teacher!

Believe it or not, I am referring to myself here. Yes, I am a scary teacher. Let me explain…
(warning, this is a loooonnnnnggggg post)

Yesterday was my first day of alone teaching. I taught Tuesday and Wednesday but I had Steve in the class with me. I was nervous about two things: time and grading. The classes are all 30 minutes each except the last section of classes which are 45 minutes each. Tuesday and Wednesday in almost every class, I ran late. In some of the classes, I got through the majority of the material in the first 10 minutes and then scrambled to put together some activity that usually then ran late. Oops. The parents want the kids to have their assignments graded and returned the day they are due. This means that the 30 minutes of class, as a teacher I have to not only collect all the homework, teach the lesson, and assign the following homework, but I have to grade each kids homework somehow in class. It’s probably the hardest part of teaching at my school. I’m not sure how we are supposed to do this, and all of the teachers say it’s impossible. We try to think of games that the kids can do without needing us so we can grade the homework. But it’s seriously a challenge. So those were my two areas of nervousness. Time and grading.

But today went fairly well. The kids are not what I expected. I expected that in an Asian culture the children would respect their elders, especially their teachers. I think they respect their Korean teachers at their normal school, but for whatever reason, they try to walk all over us American teachers. Steve (the teacher I replaced)struggled with wanting the kids respect and wanting to be buddies with the kids. This meant some of the kids took advantage of him and acted out in class. Monday, the last day where I just observed Steve’s classes, the kids were SO NAUGHTY! I almost cried in one of the classes out of frustration with one of the kids. He was SO RUDE to me! I would tell him to do something, and instead of obeying, he would turn to the rest of the kids and say something in Korean. Then the other kids would say to me, “teacher, teacher, he said you are fat!” Um… whoa. Ok, sure. I am? And that means you don’t have to obey me? I knew that I would have to teach him again on Wednesday so I prepared myself to have a little chitchat with him before the class. Thankfully I didn’t have to. He was much better behaved come Wednesday.

So I decided to put aside camp counselor Becka and be strict authoritarian Becka. If their Korean teachers are strict authoritarians (I heard that their hit kids here in the schools… ouch!), then I will start off with the message loud and clear that I demand the respect of the kids. I have a poster of my 5 rules posted on the wall.

1. Always show respect to your teacher and classmates
2. Raise your hand to speak
3. Only English in class
4. Stay in your seats unless given permission
5. No food in class

And I not only review the rules before each class, but when I hear a kid speaking in Korean, I ask them what rule 3 is. They smile sheepishly and read the rule for the class. Most of the boys are too rambunctious for their own good. There is one class, B11-B that is composed of 5 12 year old boys. Oh man, they LOVE to test rules. There isn’t a moment when they aren’t kicking each other, throwing erasers at each other. Both of their teachers from this past year have said that they have had a hard time teaching them anything. So I prepared myself mentally for the challenge. And to be honest, I actually liked that class. I find those boys are rowdy and over active, but after yelling at them a few times and threatening them quite a bit, they seemed to work with me. I am sure that we will still have bad days, but I am excited to teach them. Most of the girls are just plain sweet. They are eager to please and pleasing the teacher means knowing English, so they are quick to raise their hands with answers and to participate in class. One of my classes today was all girls and one boy, James. James refused to participate. I gave them an in class assignment and he didn’t do it. Not a single word. I gave him the first sentence, and he still wasn’t willing to work. So I pulled him out of the class and gave him a stern talking to. I told the whole class that if they finished early, they could have extra free time. He waited till I wasn’t looking and then quickly wrote the whole assignment, finishing before anyone else. So he’s smart, just stubborn. That’s ok. I can break that. Tehehe. So when it was time to read as a group, and he refused, I prompted and encouraged, then threatened. Finally, I pulled him out again, led him to the teachers’ lounge where I made him write “I will not act like a baby” a bunch of times. I told him he could come back to class when he was done. The Korean staff all smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up. This evidently is how we teach here in Korea. In any case, it worked. He came back to class a few minutes later, handed me the page of sentences and actually participated in class. Miracle of miracles.

One of the classes, a large one of 10 kids that has a reputation for being difficult, told one of the other teachers that I was scary. Hahaha! It made my day. I can always ease up on the kids. And we will have fun. But I will make sure that I have control over my classroom. I will not let these kids wreck havoc in my life. If that means that they spend these first few weeks thinking I am scary, so be it.


kimmen said...

good for you!

Dave Lipkowitz said...

I am so proud of you! Dad