For the last few weeks, nearly every time I walk into my Tree House classroom, I want to maim and mangle the little monsters I teach. Sometimes I worry that it’s my lack of technique and proper strategy, but I usually comfort myself with the fact that most teachers who have a class in this curriculum hate their children as much as I do.
The true problem is that I like the kids individually and even mostly as a class (save Ian Wang, that wicked little blight on humanity and Jay the budding sociopath or politician). It’s only when they have to be dealt with as a mass of children that the slow boiling rage starts to simmer and I use the teacher’s-desk-and-chair-as-cage on kid after kid in close succession.
Yesterday was terrible with this class and after I wiped the board clean of points and sent them home with no stamps, I went to my desk out in the main office space and put my head down to curse slowly and methodically and more creatively than is my wont. Today, I sat them down and made them write two lessons’ worth of worksheets, and the situation was a little better. The best thing was that Ian Wang was a little cowed by being sent to the first grade classroom yesterday and thoroughly and sickeningly-sweetly tongue-lashed by my supervisor. What made me feel bad about myself, though, was that when he came back and apologized at break time, I could only see his sullenness and think “I want you broken, kid, not falsely contrite and seething.”
Teaching is not for everyone.
Or teaching certain levels is not for everyone, because my favorite class that used to be on Tuesday is now on Friday, and today was a wonderful end-of-level games day. I made a crossword puzzle and photocopied the word search in the teacher’s guide, and also thought up a decent hitting-the-whiteboard game which upper elementary and lower junior high kids still enjoyed. Surprisingly, the puzzles were the real hit, and there was utter silence for minutes on end as they deciphered the bastardized IPA that they’re taught here and found the resulting spelling words. I had some nice conversation with my Chinese teacher as we shared standardized testing experiences, and enjoyed watching my students puzzle out the crossword clues. At one point, though it was unrelated to the work, I had to explain to Ernie that bullshit was in fact a bad word, and he should say BS or crap.
When four kids had finished (and greedily claimed their prizes of a single Werther’s), I needed to occupy them and so told Brian Chen that if he was so set on speaking Chinese in class, he could write it on the board for my benefit. Unfortunately, I could only think of the lines I had just made him write to claim his prize (“I will speak English in English class”), and I already know how to say it. Overall, we had some fun writing various sentences in various languages on the board, although I had to police a little when it came to Sam, the oldest kid in class.
It was a really nice end to the week, and was only improved by home calls to my junior high class and cartwheels with a few Tuesday students. I’m looking forward to the weekend, but without any sense of oppression from the week behind, and it’s a really great feeling.