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How do you deal with lazy, spoilt, unmotivated teenagers?
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Volver



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in the same boat as the OP. I teach at a "school" in Tianjin and these spoiled brats are all supposed to get an American diploma and then go onto a uni in America. Fat chance. I have never had students actually refuse to read a book until I got here. I don't have a lot of discipline problems because I am kind of good at controlling them, but motivating the majority of them to work? Hah! What a joke. The bosses say it is my responsibility to motivate them and I ask them how and when I am supposed to do that. Of course they have no answers to such questions.

I separate the bad ones and make them move their desks to the corners of the room. This keeps them from disturbing the other students. I do not grade on a curve, so many of them are flunking and I do not care. Let the school adjust their grades as they see fit and then they can flunk out when they go to the US.

There really is no answer to this problem, IMHO, because that is just how this country works. Perhaps there are schools with a majority of real students, but I have not encountered such at the 2 high schools where I have worked. The parents are just as much a part of the problem as their progeny.

In a perverse way, we should all be happy about this state of affairs. The West is certainly locked in a state of economic war with China and we may someday be in a shooting war given the moron in the White House. Do we want to go up against a country full of people capable of independent and creative thinking or full of our grown up students?

V
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papuadn



Joined: 19 Sep 2016
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hopefully, like the OP, anyone sympathetic helps you move on. Three years ago on these boards, experienced foreign teachers expressed anticipation (even displayed competitive posturing) for these international programs with higher salaries. Yet here the OP's conclusions are echoed by two others-- reports of being entirely overwhelmed.

And, from colleagues, I am aware it is not exclusive to foreign teachers as foreign degreed Chinese teachers with subject courses are stressed as well. When invited for a guest lesson, task-based activity revealed some signal through the noise, but I do not envy the substantial and sustained objectives such exception is spared. Nor the administration's optimism greater office hours will spur a staff to collaboratively accomplish those objectives. But my colleagues are far from "throwing in the towel" and I have confidence in their tenacity and ability-- at the least, none will walk away from a contract or succumb to rancor. I can assume your opinion is (and others') they will have earned every penny.

In numerous posts, I have sought to engage discourse about motivation and assessment because they are foundational to learning environments and curriculum design. Few are interested, but with good reason-- these boards are poorly suited to it. But I also learn as much as I am able about what I term as "institutional constraints"-- very often, wildly dissimilar responses to incentives and available resources. Policy intrigues few, but I developed an interest since first encountering the term stake-holder.

Truly, Volver, good luck, and resist the framings of literal bloodshed. Everyone needs to vent and seeks frames of vindication, but it is a toxic musing to carry and wholly irrational. With such scenario rattling around the noodle, you are liable to say anything.
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Volver



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TOP,

Something you wrote is absolutely true with me as well as the 4 other FTs here. When I interviewed last spring, I was told how high level and highly motivated the kids were. I was assured they had scored higher than any others at the best middle school in the city and that was the only way they would have been accepted into the program. It didn't take long after arriving to find out almost everything I was told was not true.

Then came the inevitable discussions of the sales pitches all of us got. Turns out we were all told the same nonsense and we are all quite bitter about it. That just seems to be the way China works - the concept of honesty seems to be too difficult for this country. Had we been told the truth about our precious Chinese snowflakes or the amazingly overlooked fact that the school had a 100% turnover of foreign staff last year, none of us would have taken the job. Just like the OP's experience, management lied to us.

Yeah, the money is good, but I would rather make less money and feel I was actually accomplishing something vs. babysitting. Anybody looking for a job? I guarantee there will be openings here next fall.

V
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papuadn



Joined: 19 Sep 2016
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Volver wrote:
Had we been told the truth about our precious Chinese snowflakes or the amazingly overlooked fact that the school had a 100% turnover of foreign staff last year, none of us would have taken the job. Just like the OP's experience, management lied to us.
Yet the prevailing recommendation to newbies is to ask for a contact (email) with a foreigner presently working for the school, or one moved on.

How is the "lie" in your scenario any different from a training school's exploitive manager evading details about housing, commute, contact hours, etc.? It isn't, and the exaggerations are the same: This [whole] country is X, Y, and Z.

However, it is some fraction of an incentive-based sector of positions available and your descriptions and warnings are beneficial to some fraction of teachers with your experience and training.

Less generously, the scenario is one of being bought, and buying into being bought, and more common than a particular school. More generously, I'll say the matter is, at times, a challenging tension between colleagues working for international programs and teachers with a Master's working for a university. Hey, schedule changes, challenging examination, that's our world too, but we're not paid three and four times for it. You took the money; you don't get to grouse about it. If participating with the challenges of an advantaged class is too much, bring your skills back to a population far more needful.
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Volver



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Best to find out facts before posting.

I did what you are supposed to do as did the other FTs. I could tell there was a lot of tension in the air between the DOS and director and something was being held back from me. I just couldn't put my finger on it. Turns out every single one of the FTs got their completion of contract bonus and promptly bolted. All of us found out about this either during the summer (and then only because someone slipped up) or were told when they arrived on the first day of work. I like to keep my promises and returned. I now regret being the honorable type because I know the character of this country finds such an approach laughable.

You can do everything "right" and still get burned.

Plenty of job openings here next fall.

V
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papuadn



Joined: 19 Sep 2016
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Volver wrote:
Best to find out facts before posting.
That's always good advice...

So...the prior staff, with whom you did confer before signing a contract, conspired, in effect, to secure their replacements by remaining mum about the "job" to collect a bonus? To say the very least, that is extraordinary, and your candor in the matter shames their choices.

In my view...what's most important is the OP's descriptions (and affirmation from others) inform readers of this forum that the incentives of international programs are complicated by significant motivational issues that are novel to many.
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gossamerwillow



Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 46
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see there hasn't been a reply to this topic in awhile, however I have found myself in the same situation also. I cannot figure out what to do because no one at the school is of any help. I've tried to do my best at teaching, but like everyone has said kids of this nature just don't care. Since they don't care, I also don't want to care and just collect my paycheck. However, due to the curriculum at my school, the students have to pass certain 'assessments.' The principal has told me that the students must pass these classes. However, they will not do their work. I have assigned them work according to the course curriculum, but they won't complete it. The principal is useless. I have tried to stand over them and make them do everything, but I can't anymore because it's too time consuming. They have a 1,000 word essay due and only one has turned it in. It's not possible for me to stand over all of them and make sure they do this. There isn't any way they could pass without completing the work, so I'm at a loss of what to do. Could someone please give me some suggestions? Thank you!
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thechangling



Joined: 11 Apr 2013
Posts: 275

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Change schools asap. Go to a school with students that value education, not just money. You can't change the system within some schools. Don't waste your energy, time and passion.
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OhBudPowellWhereArtThou



Joined: 02 Jun 2015
Posts: 1168
Location: Since 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing will kill motivation faster and for a longer period of time than spoon-feeding a child long past the time that that he can hold the spoon himself.

An apathetic class is dark matter that sucks the life out of the most dedicated, talented, and determined teacher. It makes him feel worthless, angry, and confused. It wears on the teacher's self-esteem and other parts of his psyche.

Find yourself trying to get through to a bunch of intellectually detached jerks day after day after day? Do yourself a favor: move on. Their problem shouldn't become your problem.

Been there. Done it. Move on asap.
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theoriginalprankster



Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 895

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm so happy I'm not with this school anymore. I've had a pleasant month, relaxing and packing and job hunting. I found some good offers in Qingdao and Hangzhou.

I've learnt my lesson - never teach at the so called "international schools". I will divulge the name of this school once I get my final salary. They need to be denounced, publicly.

Looks like I'll be teaching kids again, or perhaps I'll just catch a plane to the Philippines and live the simple life for a while.
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Modernist



Joined: 03 Jan 2016
Posts: 72
Location: Routing

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
never teach at the so called "international schools"

Speak for yourself. Not all of the fake internationals are bad. I teach at one and mine is generally good. I have 1 pretty bad class and 1 that is troublesome, but other groups are outstanding. Even the bad one, I just give them work and if they choose to do it, good. If not, I don't care. Paycheck comes every month either way. I put my efforts into the good groups and the good kids.
Quote:
There isn't any way they could pass without completing the work, so I'm at a loss of what to do. Could someone please give me some suggestions? Thank you!

Pass them anyway. That's the reality. That's what's going to happen.
Quote:
The principal has told me that the students must pass these classes.

Here. They are making it clear. Parents pay, students pass.

You can either give them a low pass no matter what they do (very common from Chinese teachers) or change the parameters of the work to make it more likely they will do it (dumb it down so much that they can make almost no effort and still finish it).

In my bad group's case, the school doesn't really check the details of the class, so I do a thing where the minority that try and make good effort, I give As, while the bottom-feeding idiots get like low Cs. I don't bother failing any of them. They can get failed in college, once Mommy and Daddy's money buys them a slot at North Dakota State or some other such paragon of excellence.
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gossamerwillow



Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 46
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your thoughts Modernist. I have been giving them passing grades when they don't deserve it so far. I make a note when I turn it into the principal that certain students shouldn't have passed, but I passed them since he asked me to do so. However, if someone in the corporate office checks, they might change the score. So, it's in his hands. However, in this case, I physically need the essay to give any sort of grade. We follow the GAC curriculum at this school, so there are certain tasks and requirements that are supposed to be met. I can't change them, though I wish I could because 'dumbing it down' might actually help. In reality, the course material is far too hard for these students. They can barely write a sentence let alone an essay, but here we are in an essay writing class in which the material assumes they already know the basics.

Overall, the school isn't too bad. I am planning to stay in China one more year and moving is too much of a hassle. I am trying to find a solution to this problem so that I can make it work for me for one more year because I don't feeling like packing up and moving all of my stuff again for one more year.
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In the heat of the moment



Joined: 22 May 2015
Posts: 392
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gossamerwillow wrote:
Thank you for your thoughts Modernist. I have been giving them passing grades when they don't deserve it so far. I make a note when I turn it into the principal that certain students shouldn't have passed, but I passed them since he asked me to do so. However, if someone in the corporate office checks, they might change the score. So, it's in his hands. However, in this case, I physically need the essay to give any sort of grade. We follow the GAC curriculum at this school, so there are certain tasks and requirements that are supposed to be met. I can't change them, though I wish I could because 'dumbing it down' might actually help. In reality, the course material is far too hard for these students. They can barely write a sentence let alone an essay, but here we are in an essay writing class in which the material assumes they already know the basics.

Overall, the school isn't too bad. I am planning to stay in China one more year and moving is too much of a hassle. I am trying to find a solution to this problem so that I can make it work for me for one more year because I don't feeling like packing up and moving all of my stuff again for one more year.


*my bolding*

Give them all a thousand word essay, printed out and cut up into sentences or chunks, some paper glue and some coloured paper to make a 'book' or 'magazine'. If they glue all of the sentences and chunks onto the coloured paper and it vaguely resembles an article/essay* they pass.

You could get some fashion, gossip, music, and gamer magazines, give 'em some scissors and they can add graphics and pictures to their 'articles'. I do this in summer school - except they're good students and do their own writing - and the SE Asian and European kids tend to respond very positively. Beats their other classes at your school where they're continually cramming with their heads stuck in books, and you fulfill your teaching remit.

*It doesn't have to make any sense, just all the words are going in the same direction and aren't upside down.
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Spatula City



Joined: 28 Jul 2015
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be honest, trying to be too 'professional' in Asia is probably a mistake. I am convinced that the majority of students simply don't expect it from the FT class-- and they don't arrive at this expectation independently. Trying to be as respected or regarded as the local teachers means you're fighting against a lot of social factors of which the locals aren't typically aware or particularly concerned about.

Instead of forcing the students to adapt to your lessons, try adapting your lessons to the students. Just keep throwing new ideas at them until you find something that works while also not causing you too much undue stress.

You don't have to be an entertainer-- you can be a teacher, just not an authoritarian. If you prioritize the student/teacher relationship over the material, they will end up learning more than they would have, and your job will be easier too. If you can't have a constructive relationship of any kind, then at least you tried, and it's not on you.

Usually my classes will accept studying if they know that there will be a game or something more fun in the near future, so have a long-term schedule. I have organized things as much as I can-- each semester, each month, each week is planned with the sole aim of preventing boredom while maximizing oral English practice as much as possible.

Say what you will about edutainment, it's definitely better than mutual antagonism and pointless assignments into which they won't put any effort whatsoever. Of course, if you go there and they don't respond, it's agony... so it's probably best to get a feel for what works as opposed to starting with that.

It's also important not to focus on the negatives too much. If someone wants to sleep, tell yourself that at least he isn't bothering the others-- that's a win as far as I'm concerned. Disruptive students are much much worse... and if the rest of the students are on your side, then the sleepy ones will come around eventually. Look at the big picture instead of each class (especially the failures).

I'm not sure that this is really kosher to say these days, but the truth is that you are not entirely responsible for how much your students learn. Sometimes it's just not going to happen, and the best you can hope for is not making it worse. The old 'lead a horse to water' saying is definitely true.

I just tell myself that one day they will grow up and realize that I was totally cool with them and they were a lazy jerk. If that doesn't happen, then they're just not a good person and it was never going to happen for them. I know this attitude isn't going to make anyone stand up on their desk and shout 'Oh captain my captain', but it definitely helps me roll with the punches.

You can probably tell I'm not an overachieving superteacher-- but at a certain point, you have to protect your nervous system... and letting go of some of your own expectations is a good way to do that.
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OhBudPowellWhereArtThou



Joined: 02 Jun 2015
Posts: 1168
Location: Since 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure that this is really kosher to say these days, but the truth is that you are not entirely responsible for how much your students learn. Sometimes it's just not going to happen, and the best you can hope for is not making it worse. The old 'lead a horse to water' saying is definitely true.

I am behind this 100%. The students need reminding that they are responsible for their education. I worked for a school that had two campuses. Campus #1 had a history of not getting along with the FTs. Campus #2 was comprised of English majors (as was campus #1) who had English corners. Campus #2 students were wildly enthusiastic. Non-majors and teachers came to my classes. We covered a lot of material, talked a lot, and wrote a lot. These people were keenly aware of the passage of time. They expressed a sense of urgency to learn as much as they could.

Campus #1 students were spoiled, lazy cheaters. After I left, FTs no longer taught them.

The teacher can do just so much. The rest is up to the students.
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