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What to do with my middle school kids?

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Joined: 03 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:53 pm    Post subject: What to do with my middle school kids? Reply with quote

I have a class of 6 1st-grade middle school girls who have got to the point where they point-blank refuse to communicate with me at all in class. The attitude of the girls has changed dramatically over the past 2 months when one popular girl joined the class, and what she says goes with them. Prior to the girl joining we had a fun little class which everyone seemed to enjoy, and all the kids would participate as best they could.
Now since the new girl joined it's been "Korean, Korean, Korean", and yesterday's class was the worst yet.

I've talked to my director about this class but she's not willing to do anything. My director herself says she doesn't like teaching the class, but won't help me either remove the troublesome kids from class (says they're too old to be put outside), won't let me confiscate mobile phones if they're too busy playing with them/taking pictures/calling friends (says I have to keep them happy) and won't talk to them about their attitude.
My director's solution to the problem of them not studying with the textbook or any of the lesson material I've produced is "just talk to them, ask many questions", which is an approach which is okay for perhas 10-15 minutes but not 90, and not twice a week.

I'd like to write letters to each girl's parents suggesting that they stop paying for their girls to go to the "foreigner class" seeing as it's a complete waste of their parent's money, but I'm sure my director won't allow that. It's got to the point where I figure I could bring in a magazine and just read that for the entire class - the girls just don't want to study or speak in English, my director doesn't seem interested in rocking the boat as at the moment the money's still coming in, and I'm lost for ideas as to what to do with them.
This is the one and only class I have problems with as all my other students (younger elementary kids and one class of 2nd & 3rd grade middle schoolers) are fantastic.

Any suggestions?
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Joined: 08 May 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shoot them!
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Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hahahah....sorry, but i've been through that before

spent several months dealing with a girl in my middle school class who progressively became more and more disrespectful. she left the class, and then i was sent for outside teaching to a middle school. lo and behold, i get the class that she's in. you think 6 girls hating on you is bad, wait until you've got 50 of them despising you. i literally requested to be removed from the class, which happened. after finishing my middle school term, i went back to full-time at the hakwon, and, about a month later, the same little wench starts coming back to my class. i was stuck with her for the last two months, and she tried her damnedest to get the bosslady to get angry at me, to which i replied with the endless problems i've been having with the girl.

but i never found a proper solution to the problem, other than quitting.the best i could do is try to nab up new students before they joined her clique, and keep the other students entertained with conversations that they liked.

rough, rough times.
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captain kirk

Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kids for four hours then middle school, but four students. same kids for some months already. posture? slouched, hunched, bunched on one elbow. is that ok? no, so i say 'sit up!'. compared to kids (i like kids) there is no reparte, goofiness, laughter, wildness. just apparent ambivalence. they don't remember what we did the class before. they get used to playing it spaced out, from public school, being anonymous in a big class and letting the teacher go on. i go about a hundred miles an hour, and all by myself, with these middle schoolers. then break off and start talking with them, or trying. it's not rewarding unless there's some interplay. gotta draw them out and get them talking, and not just in little token statements. lighter fluid, and set their feet on fire?
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Joined: 25 Jul 2003
Location: Sunny Anyang

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a similar problem with the same aged girls last year. Keep the positives flowing for the brightest/most willing in the class and the cellphone dummies will fall into line eventually.

Cellphones in classrooms (Kids)...not in a million years Exclamation take it, put it in your pocket, and allow the offender to pick it up after class. I used to give them, and other rubbish they bring in as distractions, to the super. after class. First they run around after me, then have to go to them... big deal to a teenager.

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Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about trying to do some small group activities... that way you can put her with a friend or two and let them chat away and waste their parents money... let them go off and do their own thing... and then you are free to go and work with the other groups.

Get them to do surveys on each other or collect information about anything (use your imagination) that they can report back to the group... do some reading and comprehension activities... get them to rework a dialogue lesson ...

I find these activities work with my 12/13 year old female students. Get a West Life (or similar) song and print out and cut up the lyrics and ask them to listen to it and put the lyrics in order... or to figure out the meaning.

BTW - How many students in your class?
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Joined: 25 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could always just visit the apartment and talk to the parents. There's a good chance they speak some English. If not, bring a Korean friend along to translate and talk frankly about the daughter. And bring a cakeroll from a local bakery as they're cheap and a good size.

A family conversation can turn that frown upside down. You're no longer the stupid teacher, but the nice teacher who went to her house that she will spin into a story of her popularity, thus she will need you to maintain that popularity step.

That, or single her out with loud outbursts in class with the sole purpose of humiliation and trying to make her cry since many people here seem to think I'm some heartless individual.
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Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Location: Dont have a clue

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a class with 23 1st year middle school students. My director wont split the class and doesn't seem to care about it at all. I just gave up. I have determined that there is nothing to be done, and have written that class off as a complete waste of my time and theres.
Your sucks. I have another class with 7 2nd year middle school students, and they are controlable if I'm a Nazi. I don't like it, but if I don't do it, they walk all over me. Be a Korean and carry a big stick. Make them do what you tell them. Make them leave their bags and phones outside the room and if they don't, tell them to **** off and go home. Be a jackass, and they will at least pretend to listen. So, just shut your classroom door, and tell the little ***** that they will listen or you will kill them. Thats what I have to do and it seems to work.
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mack the knife

Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: standing right behind you...

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gord's suggestion is a good one, BUT...

First of all, her parents will speak LITTLE or NO ENGLISH. Gord, who are you trying to kid here?

Second, do you really want to become this girl's "pal"?

Third, this strategy will MOST LIKELY backfire on you horrendously, and simply galvanize the girl and her lackies against you.

Fourth, those cake rolls suck *ss. Just. Plain. Nasty.

The only proper solution is to teach the class AS IF the students WERE listening. I know, I know. It sounds like Malarky, but you can't tell me that there is not at least ONE STUDENT in the classroom who is actually interested in your lesson. Focus on him/her and treat the class like a private lesson. OR, exchange the class with another teacher (SUCKER!)
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Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Location: Geoje, Hadong, Tongyeong,... now in a small coastal island town outside Gyeongsangnamdo!

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Whatthefunk, I would suggest a hard-line approach. No cell phones is a basic rule. If they break it then nothing happens until the situation is resolved! I cannot and will not teach until the cell phone is removed from the classroom. The director understood very quickly that I wasn't going to give on the point. There are very few things I'd suggest being uncompromising about in Korea, but, as a teacher, I think of my responsibility as a teacher as trumping my responsibility as an employee. Usually a good teacher is a good employee, but not always. You said your director doesn't want to rock the boat, so she wouldn't want to jeopardize her relationship with you over the students either. It's your classroom. Set the rules and enforce it. There's too much demand for teachers in this country for one to need fear finding suitable working conditions. You can play good cop/bad cop or you can write the class off.

Another suggestion that may appeal to less assertive personality types is to place student names on desks and have each student sit in a pre-assigned seat. It only takes some urging with smiles all around, and I'm sure you know the class dynamics enough to know where to put various disturbers to minimize disruption. I put them front and center Razz between a couple of keeners. Oh, how I love to see them squirm.

Good luck, whatever you do.
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