Thursday, February 3, 2011

1-6 Is My Bane

I feel angry.

I almost always feel angry around noon on Fridays. 

I feel angry because 1-6 is my bane.

Since the first week of classes in August, I have suffered at the hands of 1-6.  They pretend not to understand me, and patronize me by just saying "yes" to anything I say.  I told them that Westerners will laugh at them if they do that in public.

They refuse to do any work.  A large bit of my time is spent creating lessons for them.  Their refusal to do the lessons makes me feel like I am wasting my time and energy, but I want to do my job well, so I keep trying, which results in more disappointment.

I never said anything to anyone until Takakura Sensei specifically asked me about my classes.  I told her that 1-6 is, without exception, the least disciplined and most frustrating class.  A couple of months later she asked me again, and I told her again.  This time my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) and teaching partner for 1-6, Wakamatsu Sensei, said to me, "You don't like 1-6?"  "No," I said, "it's not that I don't like them, but they are the most challenging class I teach."  I tried to explain myself in gentle terms, and I thought maybe all the talk would result in at least a bit more discipline in the class, but today was the worst.  I don't think Wakamatsu Sensei realises that I am not supposed to discipline the students.  Discipline is the job of the JTE.  I do what I have to do to maintain a semblance of respect in the room, but there is only so much I can accomplish toward discipline in a foreign language.  Discipline is ignored plenty of times even in one's own language.

Today they did presentations on a worksheet that they have been working on for three weeks.  Of 7 classes, 1-6 is the only class that did not finish their work, and amongst all the giggling and stalling that some groups did in other classes, 1-6 won out.  The presentations today ended up being mostly just for me in front of a class all talking and doing their own things, despite my attempts to call for quiet and focus, and they had to skip some aspects of the presentation because they hadn't written anything, or had written the wrong thing.  There was no clapping for each group like there was in every other class.

After class today, on the way back to the teacher's room, I asked Wakamatsu Sensei how many classes there are left before graduation.  He said 2 or 3, or 4 or 5.  By piecing together that info with the last day of classes and asking another teacher when exams are, I figured there are four classes left.  No sense in making a scene now.  I only have to endure four more classes with them.  Then they will be 2nd year students and I'll never have to see them.

Cheers to my other classes and to March 18th, my last Friday with 1-6.

From Japan,

Update from March:  On the last day of class, Wakamatsu sensei yelled at students and through papers at them.  It was sort of funny, but sort of strange.


1 comment:

Michelle said...

Could they be suffering from "senioritis"? You sound very frustrated Tiffy...remember that you have something to offer these kids and there have to be a few that will take you up on this offer and probably a few that just don't give a care.

I don't know if it was a disservice to us for always being in advanced classes but I think disruptive behavior occurs more often in those classes that we did not attend. We are just not used to kids acting out and not giving a hoot because we always cared about almost every class and those students around us cared too. I'm sending you some short reads on what I have been learning in linguistics and SLA/TESOL at UF. Maybe getting some scientific expertise on your side might help too :o)

You don't have to love who you are teaching but you should love the act of teaching...if you aren't loving what you are doing then change it up (drastically if you have to) because these kids are not getting the education that you are required to give them now so what's the worst that could happen if you really change it up? They still don't learn? I'm sure you've thought of this but maybe do a whole week on language in video games then language in movies then books then texting then twitter....etc... Just some you guys!!