Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Tuesdays are the worst day of the week for me. It's the day that I begin teaching grade sixes who are a bunch of brats.

Well, that's not a fair statement. Thirty percent of my grade six classes are just a waste of my time for the most part. Every third week or so these classes are manageable but most of the time we just spend the class trying to yell over them.

Today I gave up trying to yell over them.

We were in the process of beginning an English game after a failed lesson. I didn't even wanna let them play the game but we had nothing else for them to do for the remainder of the class. We explained the rules, put them into their teams, and attempted to play the game. One group just wouldn't participate, the second group were acting like monkeys, and the third group didn't know how to play. The game was simple because we played it before and it went over fine.

My Korean co-teacher was yelling over the students and I looked at him and said "This is pointless" and I yelled out "Game over!!"

I made all the kids sit down and I handed each one of them a blank sheet of unlined paper. I then approached the black board and wrote "I will be sensible in English class." I didn't want to write "I will be good in English class" because that seems to vague. I got my Korean teacher to explain what sensible meant to them the best he could. I then told the students to write this out 25 times on the sheet of paper.

I told them if they didn't get it finished it would be homework and I wanted it brought to my office first thing tomorrow. Some of the kids just sat there while the others began writing, realizing there was only 15 minutes left of the class. I walked around to the kids who weren't writing and let them know I was serious and if I didn't have this paper when they left class, I expected it tomorrow and if I didn't get it their homeroom teacher and principal would be notified.

Within a few minutes the classroom was silent and all the kids were writing. I noticed one boy who had splints on two fingers on his right hand. He was feverishly writing with his left hand so I told him he only had to write out ten lines because he was right handed.

The bell soon rang and a third of the kids were finished and the other kids didn't' move. They sat there and wrote. I must admit I was quite surprised by this.

There is a ten minute break between each class at my school and I guess the kids realized it was better to finish the work now rather than do it at home.

By the end of the break, I had 25 lines from each student. Multiply that by the 31 kids that were in class that day and you have yourself 775 lines. The next time they are uncontrollable, they will be writing 50 lines, and the next time, 75, and so on.

This ain't something I wanted to do but today I was just fed up with this particular class and their antics. Each week it's the same story and the worst part is that a few students in this class are genuinely interested in English and I know they come from underprivileged backgrounds. They can't afford to go to hagwons like some of the other students and the hour or two that they spend learning English at school is the only chance they get. I'm actually considering having a 30 minute class once a week after school for any kids that are interested. Of course, I will only take limited students and the selection process will be totally controlled by me and only me. I don't know if the school will allow this though because they have an American guy who teaches after school a couple times a week but the students have to pay for this.

So anyway, the grade six class that followed was fine. The kids sang the song, they answered my questions, and they played the game with relative sanity.

The grade four class beforehand was great. I feel bipolar because for 40 minutes everything is fine and I'm loving my job, and then the next 40 minutes make me wanna quit or strangle a few kids, then it's back to 40 minutes of love.

Thankfully, only Tuesdays are usually like this because even though there are some other grade six classes that aren't great, they aren't nearly as unbearable as that one class I had today. Hopefully next week they will be a little more reserved in order to avoid writing 50 lines of English.

At least my Mondays are great. I only teach grade fours and they are awesome. Just look this dude.

He can be a handful at times but I can manage that, and at this age they still have fear of the Korean teachers.

The grade sixes though are more like a truckloadful coming to run over everything that's in their path.

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