Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Miss Kate's class

I am the Class 4B teacher. There are 21 students in my class. I teach them English and Writing eight periods a week. I also teach Class 4A English as well, but I teach them separately. Together, there would be 42... too many to teach! Monsieur Kofi is now the class teacher for Class 4A... but he’s always running around to other classes, so I’ve been sort of responsible for both at once, which is difficult. They can be quite challenging sometimes.

The first day of class, I wrote a list of class rules on the chalkboard. It looked something like this:

1. Peace Classroom - NO FIGHTING
2. Tranquil Classroom - NO TALKING
3. Green Classroom - NO LITTERING
4. Winning Classroom - ALWAYS DO YOUR HOMEWORK and ALWAYS BE IN CLASS
5. Obedient Classroom - NO CANING

I promised them I would never cane them... but they need to be obedient and listen to what I say. Whenever they become too rowdy, I remind them of the rules, writing “Tranquil Classroom” or “Winning Classroom” or whatever rule they’re violating on the board.

I refuse to use corporal punishment, and I really hate having to punish them at all, but if they talk in class, I make them stand by the wall for a few minutes. If they break the rules, they either have to sweep the classroom after class, or stay in during their lunch break or snack break, and once I made two kids write “I will not read storybooks in class” 18 times each on the chalkboard. I prefer to reward them for good behavior. I notice the students who are quiet in class, who are punctual, and who do their homework, and I praise them for it. Yesterday, for example, I wrote the names of the students who were good on the board and drew stars next to their names.

They’re no longer allowed to call me “Auntie Kate” like they sometimes used to. “I’m not your aunt,” I remind them. I also don’t like them calling me “Madam...” I’m not married! They may call me “Mademoiselle,” since I used to be their French teacher, or “Miss Kate.”

Luckily, the situation with the two problem children sort of worked itself out. Between the two of them, the class was constantly being disrupted, which was unfair for the other kids. I’m just not capable of dealing with both at the same time. I was thinking about asking Monsieur Kofi if one of them could switch classes, but I didn’t know which one to switch, and I wouldn’t know how to break it to whichever one I chose. This morning, one of them, the girl, asked me this morning if she could switch to the other class. She has friends in the other classroom. I explained the situation to Monsieur and he agreed. YES! So now I only have one problem child, Nathaniel. It’s much more bearable with just one troublesome student than two and with only half the interruptions. That kid does interrupt quite a bit, however and he can just be so naughty sometimes!

Teaching still much more difficult and stressful than I thought it would be, largely because the other teachers are flakes and don’t always show up for classes, which is often because we still don’t have the timetables completely worked out! We are working on it, and hopefully everything will work itself out very very soon!

Although teaching is more challenging than I ever imagined, it can also be more rewarding than I ever imagined, and that’s what keeps me going every day, what brings the sunshine to my world, what makes all the sacrifices I made to be here worthwhile, what makes me say “Iami desa me wa aa...” I am happy to be here.

1 comment:

David said...

Show no fear. Children are like hyenas. Break them on the first day and they are yours for life. No mercy! ;-)