Thursday, June 16, 2005

I have met the enemy and it is 12

So I have been teaching two classes of middle schoolers for four days now. As Yoda would say, "an experience, it is." I work for a private school called Sisa Academy, which is a franchise out of Korea, and all my kids are Korean. That makes a couple differences: 1) This is not a summer school for people who did badly and need remedial work, nor is it a summer school for gifted kids. In Korean culture, if you have the money, kids just go to school year-round, so these are kids whose parents just decided they should go to school over the summer. It is very close to daycare, and these 11 year olds are with us from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM every day. 2) Some of the kids, though not all, have English as a second language issues. The other children, being children, relentlessly tease these others, calling them retarded and the like.

I teach 5 of them, from grades 5 - 8, Math from 9:00 - 10:15 every morning. I then switch and teach kids, grades 7 - 9, from 10:30 - 12:00. Then it is back to the first group to teach Writing instead from 1:00 - 4:00. So, yes, this means they have reading and writing for 4 and a half hours a day. Seems a bit much. I and the other teacher who work all day are working on creating a better curriculum as we go. We have no curriculum or lesson plans. Just something with math and something with language. WE are on our own otherwise.

These kids run around, they yell, they try to sleep, they curse each other, they toss stuff in the trash cans from their chairs. And that during class. As soon as the door opens, all hell breaks loose. So 90% of the job is to take control of the class, and 10% is teaching.

It has been really up and down. Day One was just learning what I had gotten myself into. Day 2 was better. For the older kids I set up a rule. If they speak without getting called on 3 times, they do not get out early. Everyone else gets an extra break. This really worked pretty well. Day 3 not as bad as Day One, but there were some pitfalls. One kid told me he hated me; and the only girl student I have, who is also the youngest and just finished 4th grade ended up in tears when she could not get out early. Today was perhaps the best. Despite their best efforts, the older kids have actually learned something. We are doing square roots, and the ones that they hated doing on Tuesday were now easy and got a "yay" on Thursday. They also knew what they were. I also had the younger kids on Tuesday invent a story together, and today one of them wanted to do more of that. (They invented the Superhero "Kaos" and his arch-enemy, the evil DevilMaster.) So I am slowly making progress.

The discipline stuff works some. The other teacher, Sara, invented a competitive game today (the team who wins gets out early), and it worked pretty darn well too for me. The kids learned, well some did, and I didn't have to do the Three Strikes and You are Out thing. I am becomingthe hard ass of the school I think, because I don't let them out of things. I went from being Hunter, well Mr. Hunter, on Day One, cause everything else just sounded weird to Mr. Hatfield by Wednesday.

I am learning.

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