July 20, 2010

The summer, at least for me, is starting to end.

By that, I should say, summer break. Today my junior high school started classes again. Kind of a slow start though. I had the two classes today, tomorrow no classes, Thursday – two classes, and I was told that Friday’s classes would be cancelled this week. Okay, but at least things are getting back to a full week.

Over the past month, I sort of got used to having the mornings off. Oh, a couple of kindergarten classes, but generally, the mornings were free times. A few of those days during June, I got up after 6:00am! Wow, a chance to sleep in. I suppose if you call sleeping in, getting up at 7:30 or 8:00, than I slept in! Now, I have to get used to my normal 5:00am wake up time.

I had mentioned a couple of days ago that one of my private students, Jeff, was back from his holiday in Canada. Well, he is in my class. I didn’t recognize him at first. I guess mom decided that he needed a new haircut for school! Also, he was wearing glasses. I’ve known this guy for what, a couple of years now? I didn’t know he wore glasses, or maybe I just didn’t notice!

As I always do with the kids during the first class of the new year, I try to instill a fear of me. That way, as the classes progress, they realize that I am not as tough as they may have thought. I do still maintain a control over the classroom. However, I do try to get them to understand that I am the teacher, and they are the students. They are in MY classroom, not the other way round. They are in school to learn something, not fool around or sleep or otherwise slack off. I know what parents expect of their kids. The school (in this case) pays me a decent salary and I deliver the goods. I keep the invitation open to the students, that should they feel that my class is too difficult for them, they are more than welcome to discuss it with the administration and perhaps be moved to a ‘less’ formal class.

Chang-rong was originally a boy’s school, and to this day, is still primarily that. There are a lot of girls, but the I would guess that the boy population outnumbers the girls by about 10:1. This class is not uncommon. There are 22 students – all boys. The second class is about 20 students, however this one is about half-half, boys to girls.

At this age, I discovered a few things about the differences between boys and girls. There is another school that I taught at for a couple of years that is primarily a girl’s school. When I was teaching there, they were trying to integrate this school and become co-ed. There were 3 boys in the whole school. Two of them were in my class.

What I have found over my years teaching, is that classes that are either all boys or all girls, are sometimes difficult to get a grasp on. Being a teacher, male or female, one has to get a hold of these students attention from day 1. You don’t get this and establish who is the ‘VIP’ in the class (teacher, of course) right from the start, you may as well pack away the chalk and go home.

Mixed classes seem to be a bit better. The boys tend not to be as rude as boys will be, and the girls tend not to be as chatty as girls will be. Sorry, I know this may sound a bit prejudiced, but this is what happens. Get a bunch of boys in a class, and they all want to be cool and act the fool. A bunch of girls just want to chat and play with their hair. Mix them up, and it’s like putting hot and cold water together, and getting warm water.

I’ve also found that in a mixed class, the marks tend to be a lot higher than in a class of all boys or all girls. Now, there are a lot of teachers out there in the world – both male and female. There are, I assume, similar to Taiwan, both local and foreign teachers. Everyone of us has our own experiences and views.

Now, I have been told on a few occasions, and I tend to agree, I am a somewhat tough teacher – for a foreigner. Most of the teachers that come to Taiwan to teach, just want to have fun in class. Then again, a lot of the foreign teachers tend to be younger people anyway. Not to say that younger people have more fun than us older folks, but a lot of them don’t stay in one school or even in Taiwan (in this example) for very long. Most are here for one or two years, then move on. I am different. As well, I know there are a few other foreign teachers in Tainan who have been here for more than two years, so I’m not the only one.

Yes, I do tend to be a bit tough in class. I expect students to participate. I expect them to speak. I expect them to do homework. I expect them to stay awake in my class! However, I am also a fair teacher. Those that do participate, complete assignments, talk, stay awake, will get the better marks. It goes without saying. You pay attention in class, you will learn – simple. You want to f*** around, then your mark will reflect that!

That being said, I do feel that two classes are going to be good classes. I just have a gut feeling. In the first class, they are all boys. However, I sense that perhaps Jeff has spread the word about me. He was sort of privy to some of the stuff that went on last year in a couple of classes. He wasn’t in my class last year. The second class has heard a few rumours as well. Good or bad? I don’t know, and quite frankly Scarlet, don’t give a damn.

They will discover soon enough, my way of teaching and how to adjust to me. If they can get it through their heads, that when they walk into my class, they are in Canada and not Taiwan, they will do very well. I will help them, teach them, and have fun at the same time. And rule number 1 – NO CHINESE!


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One response to “July 20, 2010

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