For some reason, since I’ve been in Thailand, it seems like I’ve been having a lot of these so-called unprofessional teaching days. It’s not just being able to be on facebook and my email during all of my extremely long breaks; it’s also about the students I drag across the floor and almost literally toss outside. Again, I’ve never been this type of person, shouting until my lungs get hoarse, nor am I the type of person who uses brute strength to handle people who are smaller than me. But honestly, that’s how I thought I had to be because these students just didn’t care and didn’t pay attention to me, no matter what.
After heaving the same rowdy students in and out of my classroom for the past week, I was stressed beyond belief. I still dreaded teaching my 40-minute classes (luckily, we had shortened periods), but I thought I was used to just moving my students when they misbehaved. I assumed that eventually they’d figure out on their own that they hated that punishment and would cease their wild and frenzied behavior.
However, just as I had seemingly accepted how my classroom was always going to behave around me, First (one of my students) threw something across the classroom at one of his friends. I happened to walk right into that crossfire and it hit me in the face. I know it’s actually funny to picture, but at that point, all I could feel was the intensity of my shock. He stared at me, apologized quickly, climbed into his seat, all as I exasperatedly told him to leave the classroom because I needed a break from him. He stubbornly refused to leave, even when I grabbed him, and all I could do was release him and shake my head extremely disappointedly at him. I could tell he felt all of my frustration, my upset feelings, and my disappointment because he looked worried. Plus, normally, he would have just continued acting out.
I turned to the whiteboard in my state of shock, and as I began putting up the notes the students needed to copy, I understood exactly and almost way too lucidly what was happening in my classroom: the students had no respect for me whatsoever and I didn’t know how to fix it. Tears filled my eyes as the students continued to shout, scream, and run around behind me, despite there being two authority figures in our classroom. And at that point, tears welled up and I basically started crying.
Trying to hide it from my students but still feeling the hopelessness of my realization, I continued to cry facing the board. At this point, I didn’t even care that my back was completely turned to the students so that I couldn’t even see what they were doing. All I wanted to do was finish writing, wipe away my tears, and continue soldiering on. Horrifyingly though, I just continued to cry, even as I finished writing all the notes and was hurriedly brushing away my tears. I quickly walked over to my Thai teacher, asked for her to take over for one minute, and when she saw my eyes, she immediately stood up, and walked to the front of the classroom.
I ran out to the washroom, washed my face, and walked back in to the front of the classroom. I’m sure I was quite the sight, with red, puffy eyes, a sniffly nose, and just defeat in my eyes. The Thai teacher yelled at them, and all the students immediately bowed to me and said sorry. I nodded and the students copied down their work. Let’s just say that they were quiet and obedient... for about the next 15 minutes.
After school, I teared up again as I thanked my Thai teacher. She was so worried, she ran next door to a different Thai teacher that could speak some English--she then told one of the other teachers (Gina, another friend of mine, but not the Gina mentioned in the other posts) to help me. They told me it was okay and Gina offered to swap classes with me for a day. I told her that would be great because I needed as much of a break and someone to scare the students into obedience as I could possibly get.
She and I talked a bit more, and when Shoua came around, we all walked to the market and I bought some cake (tiramisu and green tea) as treats. Needless to say, I ate the tiramisu one as soon as I reached my house, even before my dinner. That speaks just so much to how stressed I was and how much I was craving cake. Killed 2 birds with one stone, that cake did, haha.
Yum! Tiramisu and green tea cake :)
To continue that story but with a shorter version, I ended up not really trying to revolutionize my classroom management style. Instead, I thought of consequences and tried writing everything on the board so they could see. It was also a way that I could remember who I had called out.
I walked into class a bit nervous because I had no idea what type of day I was going to be looking at, but I immediately sat them down during 1st period (when they’re still angels), and had them tell me the rules.
- NO TOYS. (I told them repeatedly that even if it’s a ruler that they’re holding, if they’re playing with it, it’s a toy. All toys either get put away immediately or if they’re too disruptive, they get thrown into the bin--the garbage can.)
- Raise your hand (when you need to go to the toilet--they don’t use the word “bathroom” here--and when they are finished with their work).
Then, I laid out the consequences in a table.
1st offense = warning I put their names up on the board so we all know.
2nd offense = location Their names are placed under this column with a classroom that they will relocate to (like 1A, 1B, 1C, 1E, or the 2nd grade classrooms)
3rd offense = LEAVE The students must bring themselves to the location.
4th offense = (This is for First because he doesn’t ever leave the classroom) No after-lunch break AT ALL.
I also have special punishments for different bad behavior:
1. If students don’t complete their work, they go late to lunch.
2. If the entire class is too loud, then I will give up my lunch, walk the students to lunch, watch them eat, walk them back to the classroom, and have them put their heads down for an entire week. (The students responded really well to this and have since really lowered their volumes.)
And I stuck to it. Since then, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday have been amazing. I hope this works next week. Every morning, I have laid out the rules so that all students know what they’re looking at in terms of rules, rewards, and consequences. I still give stickers and team points, but I am working more on reinforcing, reinforcing, reinforcing.
Okay, so now for an actual fun story. I love sending my students to Class 1A because Shoua is HILARIOUS. When my students enter her classroom, she has her entire class stop what they’re doing, turn around, and look at the student. She then points at my student and announces really loudly how the student is in her classroom because he has been really bad in their own classroom. Seriously, when she told me this story, I couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t like torturing students, but I just love how she handles the situation; I think I’ll start that public shaming with other class’s students, just so they learn not to act out unless they want to be embarrassed.
Anyway, I’m glad I’m growing as a person and teacher. I feel like I’m slowly becoming more assertive--hopefully, having started it in the classroom by establishing my expectations of my students, I’ll also be more assertive everywhere else. Because really, if I never tell people what I want and need in life, I’ll just always e a people-pleaser for the rest of my life. This is my way of becoming someone who forces others to people-please ME. haha jk :) but what I sincerely hope is that I’ll be able to just stand out more as an individual in a group and not just cater to every whim and fancy that other people have. Hmm... we’ll see how this all goes...
First, playing with clay... These pictures were from when
I told them I'd take pictures of them not paying attention
and then show it to their parents.
Nano with a poop-colored and poop-shaped piece of clay haha
PUT IT AWAY OR IN THE BIN!
My students goofing off, getting out of their seats.
WHY ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR SEAT? DID I TELL YOU YOU COULD GET UP?
Aungkrit trying not to get caught on camera so he wouldn't get in trouble :P
ARE YOU DOING YOUR MATH?
And yes, I am shouting all those things at them in real life... haha