Posts Tagged ‘7th grade’

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.

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I have now met all of my classes, and I can say that I have only two that require a significantly larger portion of energy or attention.  Now, I’m definitely not at the stage where I can waltz in 5 minutes before class and prep in my head, but I am not nervous to the core anymore each time I walk to a class.

One of the classes that will take an especial focus is my second-oldest class, probably 4th to 6th graders if the grades run like they do in the US.  These kids are not particularly rambunctious, and that’s actually part of the problem.  They’re a bit apathetic and don’t speak up readily or well.  For a class that’s supposed to focus on all aspects of English, this is a pretty big problem.  I think the best fix here is figuring out what kind of games and interactions they like and focusing on those so they want to to participate.

The other class is younger, so it’s easier to get them to play games and know you’re not insulting their adolescent pride, but there’s a restless child, a tattletale, and a cheeky-borderline-naughty one.  If they aren’t handled, the rest of the class won’t get a proper amount of attention, and that’s not fair, since there are some pretty good students.  I have a really good co-teacher/Chinese teacher in this class, so I’ll see what she has to say about those kids in particular and the class in general.

Oh, and remember Poo-poo King?  I think it might not just be in fun; I think he’s unpopular and I am not sure what to do.  Clue #1: Referred to as Poo-poo King at the start of the second class.  Clue #2: Another kid tripped him, very possibly on purpose.  Clue #3: Never has a speaking partner, even though he and his deskmate are the easiest and most obvious choice for each other.  Something to talk to that CT about, I suppose.

Let me end on a positive note: my Saturday class was a joy, especially considering they were in school on a Saturday.  Bravo, C2!  There were some excellent participators, especially in the back rows.  This is great, because it means they draw my attention to the back of the class and I don’t have to remind myself to do it.  Another reason I think I’m going to enjoy this class is that they’re just starting a level, so I’m not jumping in in the middle of a unit.  It makes me feel less like a sub and more like a teacher.

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And neither are any of my students.  This is success in anyone’s book, right?  Except maybe Death’s… he’s not doing his job if people aren’t dying.

But my job is not death; my job is teaching small Taiwanese children English, and I think it was pretty successful.  The first class went quite smoothly in spite of Gigi’s best efforts in the beginning, and I think I managed her well by ignoring a lot of what she did unless it involved answering my questions.  She came around in the middle of the class I think, so that should be an enjoyable group.  My second class was a little older, and I think I verged on boring them to death toward the end, but in my defense, I had to teach who and whom so… that is hard for native speakers to do properly.  On the bright side, I think that class mostly liked me, since I tried very hard to amuse them with my inability to remember their names.  Also, I’m reasonably certain one boy in the front row has a crush on me.  His name, according to the class?  Poo-poo king.  Yes.

Then I got a scooter ride home and found there was pizza, beer, and company!  My boss/roommate/landlord invited over some other NSTs and we had a nice sit-and-eat-and-chat.  Good day, despite the on-and-off stomach nerves from waking to 4:39pm.  The earthquake was a good start to the day, I guess!

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