9.06.2011

정확

.... with that really strong, throaty "k" sound for emphasis, was what was running through my head all day, as I prepared to face my six class. I knew there was going to be trouble, when I walked into the classroom for the first time to see them rolling around on the floor and galloping across the tops of the desks, while the teacher they love to call "Grandmother Teacher" sat impassively at the desk, enduring. She looked up at me as I came through the door and said the thing that always seals the deal on it being a rough semester with one of her classes: "This class many naughty boys!"

She's a nice woman. But there is no way in God's great hot hell she should be put in charge of any amount of teenage boys for any amount of time. Some of the better ones will defer to her out of respect for the elderly alone, or pity, or some combination thereof. But most can smell the easy target on her, and take it as far as they can allow their little half-formed hearts to do so, without feeling too ill at ease.

The first class was fine. The first class is always fine. Mesmerized by my weirdo foreign face and the fact that someone is actually speaking native English, they don't pull shit the first time around. Most students, in fact, will cut the crap for the first month at least. But last week (week two), we attempted to play a game for the first time. I cut it off five minutes before the bell to give a lecture about how fucking simple it is for me to not create games and fun speaking activities that allow them to get up out of their seats and talk to their friends for the majority of the period, but to print out worksheets that would keep them working quietly to themselves instead. I gave the same lecture I always do the first time a class starts in -- we can have fun and study, or we can be bored and study, but one way or another, we are going to study. Which direction it goes in depends entirely upon you.

I'm not an overly strict teacher, when there is no call for it -- it doesn't usually suit my purposes, because I need the students to feel comfortable enough to engage, and I have to allow room for the lesson to go off course, so long as we are communicating in English. But this class made it clear last time that we're going to have to establish some fundamental truths before we can get to that. Namely, that I am not a character to be fucked with, especially during the last class of a long day.

So, this lesson was all about keeping my fist closed tightly about their metaphorical little throats. Both feet on the floor directly under your desk, sit up straight, and do not make a single peep unless it is in English and unless you are answering one of my questions.

And this is one of the roughest lessons for them to have done it as well, because it's essentially thirty minutes of me lecturing and them having to answer questions, without going off the rails and starting little side conversations in Korean, and only fifteen minutes of actual individual activity. I warned them about that up front. I told them, it's going to be difficult, because we are going to talk about some interesting, funny things. And you are going to want to make a joke to your friend beside you in Korean about it, but you can't do that today. You need to answer my question in English and then close your mouths again, got it?

From their soldier-like postures, they firmly nodded. And you know what? They fucking pulled it off. And I told them as much, when we finished the class. They earned the praise today. Which was a much nicer way to end the class than how we finished last week. They knew they'd done well, too.

I'm not enough of a novice to expect it just to be smooth sailing from here on out. They've got four more lessons alone with the Grandmother Teacher before I get to them again. It's probably going to be a lot like this all semester. But we got there pretty quickly today, so there's hope.

Fucking exhausting, though, eh.

In other news, the second graders are learning, "If I _______________, I would ___________," right now. That pre-activity lecture has gone in a complete other direction that basically goes like this: I know you. I know you are teenage boys and I know you have 변태 answers. But please. Please. I am your teacher. I do not need to hear your 변태 answers. Tell your 변태 answers to your friends, and write down a normal answer for me. I do not, for example, need to hear that if you only had one day left to live, you would "buy a woman". First of all, you do not have enough money to buy a woman. Secondly, I do not believe (or want to believe) that you would know what to do with one if you did. But mostly, I just don't need to think about that. So please.

Little monsters.

1 comment:

anageonism said...

Whether through magic or the deep, callous plotting of the schedule-makers in the depths of the 행장실, the craziest classes always seem to appear at the end of the day, and often on a Friday. It is a test from the universe. We must earn the weekend.

What's Grandma Teacher's story? Is she just not particular capable of handling middle schoolers? Or does she not give a fuck? Back home, a lot of the old teachers I knew simply had stopped giving a fuck.