Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Crap Lesson: It Goes Something Like This

It wasn't such a good day.

I have 2 classes, for 2 hours each. One is a group of lovely individuals who turn to complete synergistic shit together in my room. The first class with them was only slightly crappy. The second was one of those lessons that made me think there needs to be a TV series like "The Office," but with teachers. There needs to be a lot of shots of teachers' faces as they become crestfallen. I tried generalized scolding. Then specific scolding. Then humor. A few threats. Then lighthearted shame. Then sarcasm. Sarcasm always fails. Then it turned into an existential crisis with me wondering, "Why am I here? Why do I keep talking? And writing shit on the board?" because they were all so busy chatting and playing with their phones and sleeping and staring at fixed points around my knees. I kept asking questions but even my two go-to girls were busy with some other pressing matters unrelated to anything I give a fuck about.

So I threw them all out. Actually, they wouldn't go, and then they started with the apology bullshit but since there were only 10 minutes left of the lesson and there wasn't anything I could do with them anyway, I just left. And they were all ashamed.

Basically, I treat students like my kid. So this was akin to a time-out-- as much for Mama as for discipline-- "Since you won't stop doing this obnoxious thing, I'm going to withdraw my attention until you cut it out." University students, like 4-year-olds, hate time-outs.

My other class must have had an exam or something that they finished early, because they were all hanging around outside the open door. Ours is a new classroom-- a formerly large classroom cut in half-- and they've yet to install things like ventilation, let alone climate control. 20 people in a 15' x 15' windowless, ductless room then some stupid girl starts painting her nails and they wonder why I go batshit.

The other class was waiting outside quietly, of course. They're the loveliest class ever, despite having the dreaded 3-5pm slot. The worst thing they do, when it's about 2 minutes until the end of the lesson, is rustle a little. So they saw me kick out the previous group and they came into their lesson all skittish and cowering and pale, like they were the ones who had been naughty. I had to reassure them a bit.

After classes, I decided to cover my ass about kicking everyone out. I'm never sure what the official policy is, and after a couple of years at dershane, I'm always nervous about potential customer complaints. So I went straight to my boss and confessed. And you know what he said?

"Good for you!"

And then he went on to be supportive in a bunch of other ways. So that was cool.

Being a parent has made me an infinitely more patient teacher. It's even made is easier for me to find ways to like the little buggers. But, like parenting, it's a matter of extremes. One thing happens and you think, "Hey, I'm not so bad at this." Then another thing happens and you think, "Who am I kidding? I should be taken out back and shot for my evilness." It's all very fraught. Thank goodness I'm not charged with teaching these kids anything important, like Life Skills or Functional Literacy.

One good class, one bad class (that's not even really that bad, relatively speaking). Every day is a fucking rolling coaster about what sort of person I am.

Four is cool when it's four.
The only good thing is coming home to a four-year-old who acts like a four-year-old who is actually, in fact, four. At least he has an excuse.


MaryAnne said...

Gotta say, I'm enjoying my break from teaching. That whole four year old thing is spot on. Why is everyone four? What's up with peaking psychologically at four?

Jack Scott said...

Good for you, I say too. Give them the short sharp shock treatment and maybe, just maybe, they'll pay attention, listen and learn something.