Saturday, August 7, 2010

let's not do this again

Thursday went mostly okay. I booted Danilo from 1-A, and when he started arguing about it, I decided to experiment with shouting at him to leave, another moment of generated anger. While thoughts are completely insubstantial, and our biggest mistake is treating them like they're reality, they still leave traces in our minds, so shouting at Danilo, for lack of a better phrase, left a bad taste in my brain. Yoga helped that evening.

On Fridays I only have 1-B, and it's their last class of the week, and they're usually kind of a pill, and this week wasn't an exception. In a new twist, in addition to the class at large being uncooperative, the three problematic girls pulled out a makeup kit--which I usually ignore, by way of choosing my battles, as long as they keep participating--and then suddenly two of them start moaning "Oh, I cut myself" with quite realistic-looking blood on their wrist and knuckle, respectively.

I brought Scarlett a tissue, which she clapped on the affected area. Javiera, however, wouldn't let me look at her knuckle, so it was obvious it was fake. I'd sort of had enough then, so I got their names and wrote them down in my notebook.
"Teacher, why'd you write our names down?"
"Well, you're hurt, so I should tell the Inspector so they can help you, right?
Dead silence (extremely satisfying) as they look down at their hands.
I kept going with class, and a couple minutes later told them, "If you guys want to stay after class for a few minutes, we can talk, ya?". Jessica started groaning, but Scarlett smacked her on the shoulder, nodded enthusiastically and said in English, "Yes! Yes!". On with class, though I was disappointed enough by the whole thing that like Tuesday, a couple of kids said, "Why does he look sad?".

Near the end of class while waiting for the bell, the three of them were learning from one of the more skilled students how to say "I'm sorry, teacher." It would have been cute if it was sincere.

From a director at Kensington, I learned to call this a "come-to-Jesus." They kept trying to jump to the conclusion that I wasn't going to report them, and they could go home; that's sort of repetitive, but imagine them constantly saying "Okay, so you're gonna erase my name?" and "Great, so we can go?", and me keeping them involved by declining to make a decision.
"Okay, what's up with you guys?"
"It was a joke, teacher."
"No, right now we're talking about why you guys are behaving with a lack of respect for me and for the class."
"It's our last class of the week and we want to go home. We get bored and we just do stuff."
"It's my last class too, but I manage to come here and teach."
"Look, I'm having a bad month. It's hard to live in another country, far away from my girlfriend and my friends, and right now I don't have any patience. I know in my class I ask different things from you than your other classes, but it's been three months and you know what to do. Every class you guys are constantly chatting, and you, Scarlett, last week"--I didn't really have the right words, so I just made bitchy snarling noises--"I tried to talk to you about it, and you weren't interested. Do you guys feel like I treat you with a lack of respect?"
"No! Not at all."
"Then maybe you can act like it. Think you guys can improve?"
"Yes, absolutely."
Reflective pause while I think.
"Okay. I'm not going to report you this time. But we'll see how the month goes. Okay?"
I'm free to drop the hammer on them whenever I want, without needing a single dramatic incident as a reason, so it felt like a good way to handle it.

Also learned: much like "That's what she said," the phrase "I don't need this" means nothing in Spanish.

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