Sunday, 11 November 2012

Follow-Up: A Rough Class

                                                              Post-Friday's Nightmare:

[HAD TO POST THE FOLLOW-UP to my Lava-Lexy mutation sit-che-ation...]

First thing's first. I spoke with the only two people who speak English in my school, one of them being the Vice Principal. I laid out all of the events that took place on Friday and urged I wanted letters sent home to every single student and a teacher's assistant in that class (as I was promised).

There's only so much I am willing to disclose online. I already got rid of some of what I blogged about earlier. Just know that the school seemed surprised that I had no teacher's assistant even though that happens every week; and I never did meet with the principal (yet). As soon as I said I wanted to send letters to all of the students' parents, eyes were rolled and that was unhesitatingly thrown out of the window. Kidding me, right? It wasn't even considered. I cannot imagine that happening in America. Trying to remain calm and collected, I put my foot down about the boy who grabbed me. Outcome: He was approached while I was teaching another class and I was told he didn't remember doing it and said he implied it was not on purpose. It didn't help my case that, overall, he's a good student. Finally, the Vice Principal made him apologize to me. I tried talking to him on my own, but he just kept looking around and it was just really awkward for both of us.

My collaborating English teacher did take it upon herself to tell the other teachers about how the student's are taking advantage of me and "touching" me where they know they aren't supposed to. I haven't blogged about it, but kids keep poking and grabbing my butt. Not just this school, but all of them. I smack their hands away and this and that, and they don't do it a second time. Now every class is being educated tomorrow NOT to touch me anywhere! Ha. Ugh, I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. 

Let's see
No letters. I was told I'm too nice. I actually agree with that and I am working on it. I've been in denial up until this weekend. The Vice Principal told me to throw their stuff out of the window to make myself clear. Apparently this class is not a large enough problem to be brought to the principals attention. Last time I checked, students not learning IS a problem. But hey, I finally got an attendance list of their Chinese/English names and numbers. Their number works the same as their name. They will respond faster to their number than their English name.

                                      Tuesday-1st Class After Friday's Freak Show

After walking in and watching them finish up with their usual teacher, I noticed they paid almost no mind to what happened last Friday and were their usual selves. I didn't expect them to; they're kids. I decided to relive that experience and remind them how inappropriate their behavior was.

I was very lucky in that Jessica, one of my favorite teachers here, walked in and translated (from the back of the class) everything I was disappointed to see the last few weeks. There were times she did not know exactly what I was saying, but she understood my body language, and already knew their class story; so she followed my directions on the board and translated them the best she could. She is known for not taking any nonsense from students. She is serious and not afraid to punish. Students are totally intimidated by her, yet she is a total sweetheart. She is my Chinese superwoman.

I do not recall smiling a single moment the whole class, even though they were angels. I gave them all name tags (for the second time) and used my class list (finally got it) to make sure 1) they all had English names; 2) would remember their English names; and 3) could spell their English names. I would not give them colored markers or allow them to draw on their name tag like the first time (woooo, it is on now chiclets). Some of them did not know their English name, and another one changed her name and nobody told me. The teachers changed her name on the attendance list, but did NOT tell the head English teacher. Lovely. Also, the kid "Leon" who kept tricking me into believing his name was Mike: HIS NAME IS MARK! When I was determined to figure out his name, I showed a picture of him to my collaborating English teacher and she told me his name was Leon. This whole time, to other teachers, I've been talking about my concerns with "Leon" and it was Mark. WHAT A MESS.

At first, as a classroom management strategy, I was using a gesture countdown to calm them down and gain their attention. (1)Hands on your desk, (2)feet straight, (3)look at me, (4)shhhh, pay attention. I also gave them three warnings. I learned that what works for other people will not work for you if you are not comfortable using it. I never felt comfortable with the gestures, but did it because it worked with other teachers. I went back to what worked VERY WELL for me with the 7th grade. I simplified it a bit for them. I wrote a 1 on the board and explained to them what that meant; then a two (star erase); then a three (big, big, big trouble-stand in the back of the room in front of the door where everyone will see you). They understood everything I was saying and I could see the disappointment in their eyes.

I talked to them about "earning" their games and fun lessons back, and even then, that I'd take them away if they ruined it for themselves. Three warnings turned to "If you do not listen the first  time, it's mine." I have enough paper airplanes to bring a tree back to life.

I finished class with book work and they were almost too well behaved. To not hear a peep from Winnie was completely unnatural. Even outside of the classroom, they were so polite. Normally they would jump on me, pull my arm, or scream that they were "very, very, very, very super!" That was okay with me, but this new 'respectful greeting' was a breath of fresh air. I know this profound behavior will not last forever, but I am off to a much better start right now than I was when I first started.

Regardless how well behaved they are, this and next weeks lessons will remain book work (which stinks because now I have to write up two different lessons for their grade). I'll open activities and games back up to them the third week.

The real test will be when no teacher's assistant is in the room. I'll be sure to check their pencil cases for stones.

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