Out the Window
Friday is always the day I have my two most problematic classes. My coteacher for those classes is not an English teacher, but an Ethics/Morality teacher. That wouldn’t be a problem, other than the fact she seems to expect students will act ethically on their own.
In actuality, those two classes have a number of trouble students. Even if one behaves, there are several others that will stop most of the learning that should take place in the class. In Korea, if students misbehave, it is seen as mostly the teacher’s problem and not the fault of the parents.
Not believing in physical punishment (illegal now, but still quite common in schools here), I try to use other methods to make students focus. For example, I say "listen," they should say "carefully!" I can also try doing various types of claps and stomps that students will try to emulate. Sometimes a game can be made out of it.
Today, none of the methods worked. It was the class before lunch that was most problematic. What should have taken 15 minutes at most was not even done as the 40 minute (finishing time) point approached in the lesson. I locked the doors, told the students they would not be eating lunch until they cleaned up the classroom AND we finished the lesson material. The co-teacher translated this, but the problematic students still did not do much.
Luckily, this class is on the 4th storey of the school. I decided to choose the bag of a girl that I had moved several times during the lesson, but still continued to cause problems. By choosing a girl to punish, the teacher seems mean and tough, so students will be more likely to obey the teacher in the future compared to if a boy had been punished.
Anyhow, I opened the window and held her bag out the window. I asked her if it was OK if I let go of her bag. She didn’t quite seem to believe that I would drop it, so she motioned that I could go right ahead.
I surveyed the pavement below to make sure nobody was near the trajectory of the bag, and let go. The class went silent. A few looked out the window to see that the bag had indeed dropped 4 storeys.
I went up to the most problematic boy student in the class, and asked where his bag was. He claimed he had no bag, and became silent.
It turns out the bag of the girl had her mobile phone inside. Students are supposed to place their mobile phones in a tray at the front of the class. Hence, it was a great opening for the Ethics teacher to talk to the students about the situation and make them think about what they would have done if they were the teacher.
The students said sorry, but I replied their actions are more important than words, and they should participate in the lesson next time. I am sure the fact the students were hungry had something to do with wanting to say sorry.
As for me, I could have cared less I was missing lunch. Between the prospect of the class being better behaved in the future and the fact had a convenient excuse not to eat the gruel served in the school cafeteria, I felt re-energised. Even if end up having to pay to replace that phone, it was worth it.