Monday, 29 June 2009

The Classroom/Hallway Complex

Often times I face kids who won't listen to me or seem disinterested. I'm not talking about the shy kids, but the small percentage of the class that become a real upset in the effectiveness of my teaching. It feels like a battle some days in the classroom with these students. I've identified three main types:

Oh, were you talking? Some students will simply not pay attention to me. I walk up and ask them "Hello. How are you?" and they will look through me like I didn't speak at all; like they haven't heard that same phrase every day. No response, no words at all.

Endless Repeaters. They still try and repeat every word I say (But I've remedied most of this practice by calling out really big English words that they can't begin to pronounce- that usually gets their attention! "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!").

Alphas. Not only will these students ignore me, but they will talk loudly with their friends. Changing the groups around doesn't seem to help much. Their homeroom teachers rearrange their seating chart in their main classrooms so many times, that they always have someone to chatter away with. In some cases, they will try and talk over me. These kids are why my voice is gone on Friday. If I try to get their attention, often times they will roll their eyes or laugh at me and look at their friends. I'm like a monkey on display, and oh, isn't my language just so funny and foolish?

However, mostly it's these same kids who will wave wildly to me in the hallway between classes, or in the cafeteria and shout "Sara! Hello!" like they haven't seen me for years and can't contain their delight in seeing me again; big smiles on their faces. Sometimes, not twenty minutes after I saw them in class.

When I first came here, I felt like a celebrity. I wondered if that would ever fade, and now I'm not sure it will. I definitely feel like I'm reaching a good number of kids in my English classes, but even if I don't, I feel like I'm some sort of image to the others. I'm the foreigner in their school, and when the rest of the student body is present they want to act like they have a relationship with me; like a status symbol. I don't meant to sound self important or pretentious, but from my own observations about the contradictory behavior of some of my students, well, it's one conclusion I've drawn.


  1. Deoxyribonucleic acid! Can you issue "citations" and at the end if the week if they have no citations, they get a small treat?

    We can design cute little citations that have a sad face and says in Korean & English something like, "we want you to learn so you can become successful in life." Just a thought.

    With BSF, if they learn their verse, they get a gemstone sticker for their nametag, and it's a status thing to have a lot of "bling" on their tags so they all do whatever they can to earn a sparkly sticker. I can bring over a bunch of them next month. They are less than a penny each, and they can put them on their folders or some designated place?

    It also rewards those who are wonderful.... hmmm

    PS: Can I have your autograph? Seriously, write me!!

  2. Ohhhh the endless repeaters. Those kids drive me nuts. I think these students are universal. You'd probably find the same dynamic in a classroom anywhere. The difference here is that they can hide behind a shield of misunderstanding when they ignore us. I do love the hallway shout-outs though!

  3. As I said in commenting to Scott, some things are universal. Kids everywhere have frustrating antics. To do as well as you do without being able to quickly discipline them in Korean is remarkable. Teaching can develop insight into the human condition. I admire the way you ponder the ups and downs of student behavior.

  4. Two all beef another good one.

    Your pictures are wonderful.

    Miss you.


  5. Pretty good conclusion. I've been running into teh same problem myself at the Zoo. I work with the kids and there is always ONE every WEEK that tests my patience. Every morning i have to pay for grace so taht I don't get upset the moment he or she does ONE thing.

    I get upset at the 5th. xD