Striking a balance.

The boys are getting better and better at actually speaking English. I had several actual conversations today. Now that I'm doing after school classes, and the weather is nice, the little bastards are absolutely everywhere on my walk home. Always stuffing their faces with something. Can't swing a stick without hitting fifteen of my students eating something that's... well, on a stick.

The Nightmare Class. It's slowly getting better. Today we had a talk called, "Do I Really Have To Be Like The Other Teachers?" Which resulted in....

... this. After my I-hate-banging-on-the-podium demonstration.

I also took up my first cell phone. It was only because I couldn't resist -- it was Deadpan's. I was standing at the front of the room lecturing when I noticed a little glint in his eye. He's the definition of a negative attention seeker, and he had the thing up his sleeve, pressed to his ear listening to music, and was staring me dead in the face, smirking. I haven't been giving him enough attention lately.

It started playing a song while it was up on the podium and it was my turn to get glinty-eyed. The prospect of me answering the phone in front of the class absolutely thrilled every last one of the boys. "GREEN BUTTON! TEACHER GREEN BUTTON!" Too bad it wasn't actually a phone call, but some malfunction of the mp3 player.

Had a strange moment with a student who's given me a bit of attitude since last year. He was sleeping when it came time to do the worksheet, and when I woke him up, he looked really out of it. I asked if he was okay, if he was sick, and felt his forehead. For some reason, this really threw him off. "I'm okay..." I came around not two minutes later to find he has answered every single question, with almost no mistakes. I said, you are really smart. I didn't know that. You act bad in class sometimes so I didn't know how smart you are, but you are one of the smartest in the class. You answered really fast. It's perfect.

He stared at his paper and wouldn't look at me. I'm not sure he understood what I was saying, but I think he got the gist of it. Later, while I was walking around answering questions, I caught his eye from across the room. He was sitting at his desk quietly and patiently waiting for everyone else to finish their papers. I made the motion of going to sleep and winked at him. Big, big smile and he shook his head -- the first time this student has ever smiled at me.

Working as a teacher, particularly a native English teacher, you're really faced day in and day out with the vulnerability of the individual, versus the brutality of the pack. And it's something you have to learn to work with. Last week, a third grader was kicking off in the back of the class, distracting loads of people and making no effort at his assignment. I harassed him loudly in front of the others, drawing the whole class's attention: "Are you on vacation? Are you taking a rest? You're a very funny guy, huh?" All smiles and bravado.

Then I knelt down beside his desk, putting my body between him and the rest of the class. I pressed my head against his and quietly showed him how to do the assignment. After each part, I whispered, "Understand?" and he quietly whispered back, "Neh."

It's a delicate balance. I'm still learning how to strike it.


Tuttle said...

"the vulnerability of the individual, versus the brutality of the pack."

Well put. Still, gotta use 'em both.

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