Mingi takes a stand. For no apparent reason.

Everything was going fine today. Nothing much to report -- only three classes on Wednesdays, so not much room for shit to go wrong. First period was A ban third graders. They never fuck anything up. They're the highest level students I've ever taught, so teaching them is something akin to taking a pleasant walk through the proverbial park. Second period was the B ban second graders. These are infamous for being the most monstrous in the school, at any given time. But they only see me once a month now, so mostly if I explain that if they don't stop acting like assholes, I'm not going to "miss" them anymore, then they settle down. Something being rare is still associated with something being a treat in their little half-formed minds, you see. They want me to like them.

Fourth period. B ban third graders. Still adjusting to the fact that they are not monstrous second graders, anymore. Some leftover attitude problems. I knew from the second I walked through the door that it was going to be a rough one. Why? They were leaping from desk to desk, dangling each other out the windows, playing baseball with brooms, running across the tops of the lockers and rolling around the floor in all manners of pro-wrestling postures. A few students doing a couple of these things when you first walk into the room is normal. All of the students doing all of these things is a bad sign. So we didn't start class until every last fucker was in his chair, with both feet under his desk, shoulders facing straight forward and completely silent, making eye contact. Because, on a day like today, if you don't get them there to start with, you don't have a prayer for the rest of the period.

We had to stop a few times during the lesson to have a conversation about how I can't believe they're really going to high school next year, because they are acting like babies. But mostly, we held it together. Then, it came time for the activity. I made the mistake of telling them the page number of what we were going to do before giving directions. Usually, that's the right answer, so that they have a visual to understand what you're trying to tell them. On a rough day, it's the wrong answer. Between you holding their attention with the lecture and you regaining their attention to give directions, there's the opening of the book period. Which leads to the, "What page did the teacher say?" period. Which leads to the, "While we're at it, let's have a completely different conversation about something that has fuck all to do with English class" period. And. They've got colorful pictures in front of them to distract them from the fact that you are actually saying something that they need to understand. Mistake.

So they weren't really listening to the directions. We were running out of time, because we had to stop a couple of times during the lecture, and it took a long time to check comprehension, so rather than taking up another five minutes to make sure they understood the directions in English, my co decided to just give them to them in Korean.

Mingi. Fuck knows where it came from, but for some reason that royally pissed him off. He shouted out, for the entire class to hear, that they already knew what to do and didn't need to hear it in Korean. Now. If I understood what he said, then every fucker in that room understood what he said. Because he said it in Korean. I told him that if he knew what to do, then he should be doing it and not talking. The co told him that she would see him after class.

They finished the scaffolding worksheet, and it was time to get into groups for the speaking activity. Mingi wasn't fucking moving though, so I went over to lightly put my hands on his shoulders and move him over to where he needed to be. He willingly got up and moved, without giving me any flack, but then suddenly out of nowhere turned around and shouted at the co-teacher in banmal. Fuck knows what he said. Well. I'm sure everyone else knows what he said. I didn't. But I knew the nature of it. The co's face turned deep purple. She apologized to me and yanked him out into the hall. Five minutes later, the class's homeroom teacher came in and told me that she was sorry, but that she needed to ask a favor -- that I give her my remaining five minutes so that she could ask the students what happened. When she explained that they needed to write out individual accounts of the event, they immediately started shouting out that they hadn't heard or seen anything, that they didn't know what to write.

Later, that co came in to talk to Head Teacher about what had happened. She was barely keeping herself from tears. I didn't catch much, except that the student was apparently denying what he had initially said (the part that I understood) and that the other students were backing him up. At that point, I couldn't help but jump in. Because if I had waited for them to explain it to me in English, then Head Teacher would have more room to doubt that I had understood what I had understood. It would be easy to believe that I was just supporting what the co had said. I told Head Teacher that Mingi had interrupted the co when she was giving directions and shouted at her about how they didn't need to hear it in Korean. Head Teacher nodded, and the other co looked relieved and vindicated.

But apparently, it doesn't matter that much. No one is going to take my word about Korean over anyone else's. Which is a lot less bad then no one taking the Korean teacher's word about Korean. That's something that I don't understand. But, you see, this co is a temporary teacher. If she were another certified homeroom teacher, that student's ass would be grass. There would be no discussing it, no need to verify events with the other students. I feel really bad for this co, because she literally did nothing wrong. She wasn't even the one who had been shouting at the students all period and getting on their cases -- that had been me. She just stepped in and tried to help the lower boys along so that we could finish the day's activity. And she's a good teacher -- most of the students like and respect her, and there's no real sign of rebellion in her other classes.

I'm the first one to bitch about the temporary teachers. A lot of the time, they drive me up the wall. But this semester I've gotten really lucky. And I feel bad that, like the foreign teachers sometimes are, they are automatically ranked outside of the system due to the reputation created by a few bad apples who don't know what they're doing.

I went down to the classroom today after lunch to talk to Mingi and tell him that I had understood what he had said, and try to convince him to just admit it, but the class was out for P.E. I like Mingi, and I've never had any problems with him, but I hope he really catches it for lying on top of everything else. It's not fair that a situation he created led to this co-teacher being belittled in front of both the other students and all of the homeroom teachers. At the end of the day, he is still a child and she is an adult. And an adult who has given no cause for the others to doubt her. It's not right.

1 comment:

Mr. Spock said...

Think for a moment...What reason does a teacher have to lie about that? What teacher in the world gets a kid in trouble for no reason at all? On the other hand...what reason do the boys have for lying? EVERY REASON IN THE WORLD. Are you telling me that the homeroom teachers have never heard of the code of the schoolyard? Dear Lord... If anyone ever questioned me like that I would come inches from throwing a fit.