These are completely unrelated so I’m just making two separate entries. If you just want to hear about the scooter crash, skip this one. This is a pedagogical reflection and may only interest my fellow educators (and maybe some family members)
It’s the end of the semester, almost, so I figured I’d share some thoughts. For one, I made a new friend today =) One of my 5th graders had been very difficult for a couple of weeks (I only see that class once a week) so I talked to his homeroom teacher. I told her that he had a very bad attitude towards me and maybe I had said or done something that he didn’t like and we needed to get it sorted out. I’ve had him twice since then and he’s been just fine. He still gets in trouble for talking from my co-teacher but he does his work, which is completely new. I realized last week that once he actually starts working on something he really likes affirmation that he’s doing a good job. So I kept walking by his desk to say “oh, very good!” even if it was one of the more simple things. Today he even gave answers in class. It was amazing. After class I went to his teacher to let her know that he had improved ( I don’t want to only complain about them, they need to know I’ll give compliments too). He was terrified when I walked up to his teacher and called him over but then was beaming from ear to ear after she translated what I had told her. When I was walking away I turned back around and he was peeking out the door at me smiling and waving, lol. It was really cute and I’m glad the situation was resolved.
The previously discussed boy was just one of many problem children I have at this school. The 3rd grade as a whole is ridiculous. It is just a bad combination of an age level I’m not familiar with, and a language they’re not familiar with, making it almost impossible to keep them stimulated through the whole 40 mins. Actually, forget that, I cannot keep their attention for 3 minutes. There are so many “naughty” boys, as we call them here, that I don’t get to spend any time teaching. I don’t get much help from my co-teacher until I get really irritated and have to get her attention to come help me. I discussed with her several times that I don’t have experience with this age group and they obviously don’t work well with the same activities that the 6th graders do and if she has any advice to let me know. I also told her that I need her presence in the room the entire class period just during that class. I want her walking around the desks and speaking to the children who are acting out. I don’t ever get to teach because I have to put so much energy into disciplining and then making them understand that they’re being disciplined. I get that at home, it would be rare to have a co-teacher and you would have to be able to discipline and teach at the same time, but the key point is the language barrier. That’s what makes a second body a necessity. They’re 3rd graders so they understand about 4% of the things I’m saying. They (when I use “they” I’m talking about the majority of the class but there are 4-5 who aren’t included in that group) don’t seem to have any interest in committing anything to memory or attempting to learn. They just want to repeat words back to me like parrots and then laugh and play and throw spit balls…oh, and write the f word in the desk in white-out! Seriously, that was a 3rd grader, ridiculous =/
So, I thought about it, and I decided I’m going to lose my mind or physically harm a child if I have to spend a whole 2nd semester with these kids without a change, and so far I’ve been trying to make changes that just aren’t working. I talked to my director (at my other school, because I tell her everything and the director at this school I’m talking about doesn’t speak English) and told her that if possible, I would like to drop 3rd grade next semester and pick up 2 more classes of 6th grade instead. There is an A and B class for each grade level, so with 3rd-6th, I have 8 classes total. They all have English with me once a week and with my co-teacher twice a week. With this new plan, the 3rd grade will not have me at all, and the 6th grade I will become their primary English teacher. I cannot lie and say that I’m not doing this for selfish reasons, I am, I’m stressed to the max with this class and I always dread Fridays. BUT, I wouldn’t have actually gone through with voicing my idea if that were the only reason. I don’t think the 3rd graders benefit any more from having an American English teacher than they do from their Taiwanese English teacher. It hasn’t occurred to them that they could be learning a lot from hearing me speak, even if they don’t understand it all, and instead they treat it as really funny gibberish that I’m speaking. It’s a waste of my time and theirs. Plus, the 6th grade could really grow I think if I could get some more time with them. They have a strong enough English base to stay in tune with what I’m saying and a desire to learn that prompts them to ask about what they don’t understand.
Well, I asked, and Doris called, and it’s set. They actually okayed it which surprised me because I thought that it would require difficult rescheduling. I was happy at first, but now the guilt has started to set in. I feel like a quitter. I feel like I should have tried different methods instead of just pushing off the problem on someone else. What’s done is done though, and I really do think it will be better and not just for me.