14 September 2010

An ESL teachers' worst nightmare

Way back during PST (pre-service training, in case you forgot) the M23's and M24's gave us some scenarios of what might happen while teaching our individual classes. It kind of seemed like it was one of those "that won't happen to me" moments... you know, where it seems like such a far-fetched scenario that it won't come true?

Think again.

This was the scenario: You are teaching your solo class, when all of a sudden someone starts pounding on your door. As soon as you open it, you catch a glimpse of a student running down the hall and turning the corner. This happens a few more times throughout the lesson. Because you do not teach all of the students in the school, you do not know who this student is. What should you do?

Thankfully we came up with a few ideas of how to counteract this in PST. Unfortunately they weren't good enough because all of the things we said were combatted with a response by one of the current PCV's saying, "sure, that could maybe work BUT...." When this happened to me last week (on my birthday, go figure), I couldn't think of the best way to work with these kids.

You see, on Thursday I teach my only solo class the last period of the day. Some students are lucky because they get to go home before the last period (I'm not sure why everyone doesn't have class, but they don't. This includes kids of ALL grades, not just high school). While this is great for the kids, it's not so great for teachers because when the teachers are done, they go home too. So there is no one monitoring the halls to keep the noise down or to keep the students away from, let's just say, for example, MY door.

Here's how the rest unfolded:
1. First time the door was opened (and closed)
It was the beginning of class so I assumed to kid was mistaken (and apparently so was I)
2. Second time the door was opened (and closed)
Same kiddo. I let it slide.
3. Third time the door was opened (and closed)
I went and opened the door and left it open. But then it got noisy and my students wanted it closed.
4. More students gathered outside the door and began knocking.
I opened the door (aggravated) and told them (in Romanian?) to go home. They walked down the stairs then apparently came back.
5. Music started playing right outside my door.
I told the students to ignore it.
6. Knocking commenced again.
I had my whole class come to the door (quietly) and told them to go RAWR when I opened the door. They were louder than I thought, but it scared the noise-makers quite a bit.
7. When I told them to go home again, they stayed.
So... I invited them INTO the classroom. I said, "If you want to learn English so bad, then come in and learn English." And you know what?

They actually came in to the classroom and paid attention. I had about 7 "new students" of all grade levels and two that were "too cool" and actually went home. Or at least outside. The new students even participated... which I appreciated because I thought they would just be obnoxious again. Maybe it was just luck that time, but at least I figured out a solution, even if it meant I only got through grammar that day (but I'm pretty sure every student in my 8th grade completely understands "there is, there are, this is".) It also ended up being a great outlet to invite the students to the English Club, which started yesterday.

Then today I had a bunch of students asking to join my class. I guess they enjoyed it... but I'm not so sure the Director will enjoy if I add a bunch of students, of all ages, to my roster. :) ... good thing we have English club. Now the question is: What exactly am I going to DO for English club?


  1. How fun to think you have an English club! In French club we just studied french culture ~ clothing, music, food, what to do when you travel to France and geography. Have fun!