11 October 2010

They said no?

What a day oh what a day.

I fell asleep fearing I would wake up with a sore throat and sure enough that's exactly what happened. Luckily I was able to sleep in because I didn't have classes until 10:30 but unfortunately the pain in my throat woke me up much earlier than I wanted. But it was sunny so I figured things were going to be great!

Until I got to school.

My first class was fine. It was 10th grade and they had a test on Friday so today I gave them a chance to earn some points back by correcting their exams for 1/2 credit in return. Yahoo! Incentive to learn! Then there was a 20 minute break. I went upstairs to check up on the progress of the reparations on the 3rd floor from over the weekend. I didn't have much time to look before I saw four 2nd form girls. I told them they needed to go downstairs. They said, "no". Ok, well, if they weren't going to go downstairs without me I decided to look at the progress another time and go downstairs with them. They started running, giggling, and looking back at me as if I was chasing them. (Insert confused look here???). Halfway down the stairs they stopped. I told them to go upstairs when I really meant to say downstairs (ooooh opposites!!). They then took advantage of my weak Romanian and said they were going upstairs because I told them it was ok. I didn't let them pass. This went back-and-forth a few times before they finally ended up downstairs. Next thing I knew, one of the girls had come up to me saying there was a girl upstairs. I went up there and didn't find her so went and photographed a room. Then I heard her- and the same girl that told me the other one was up there- and they were hiding under a poorly stacked pile of desks. Obviously that's not safe (nor is being up there). They told me they wouldn't come out. Finally they did- and I followed (or chased them, as they seemed to think) back downstairs. Again. I ended up "cornering" one of the girls who had tried to hide under the stairs. I told her she needed to come with me to speak to the principal, as did the others but I knew I'd never be able to take them without physical force and clearly that was not an option. This started drawing a crowd as I waited for her and she kept saying no, which made it even that more difficult.

The bell rang and the kids skedattled to their classrooms and she began to cry saying she just wanted to go to class because if she was late she was going to get in trouble. I tried to convince her that I would go with her to class so she wouldn't get in trouble from that teacher but I was still going to talk to the Principal. She gave me the names of the other girls and then I let her to go class alone.

I was supposed to be teaching at this time, but I will be honest- I was pretty upset about this. What upset me most was the flat out disrespect of the girls toward me. I mean, they flat out said,"no". And then there's the fact that they were running from me as if we were playing a game of chase. Sure, I do this with kids I'm babysitting around their house. But that is clearly a game- and this was not even close. I felt so disrespected that I broke down. The only time I've been more hurt by the way a child treated me was once when I was babysitting and this kid was screaming at me with so much hate in his eyes because I told him to go to his room. Yes, I do know I shouldn't have let this get to me. But it did.

So I walked outside and called Nina, my project director. I really didn't know what I should have done or what I should do now. I had yet to speak to the Principal about the issue and wasn't sure if that was the best option. She talked me through the situation and told me next time if they say no once, then just go straight to the Principal and let her know so then she can handle the situation. Ok, great. Noted. Then she something that I really didn't want to hear, but in this culture, I think she (and my partner teachers) are right: I need to stop being so friendly with the students. BAM! That hurts. It's not in my nature or in my personality to know how to be un-friendly with kids. I feel like there's always been a line between me (the older person who is in charge) and the kids. But that respect just doesn't exist here. Teachers have to show the kids who is boss and there can't be a fine line... either you're their friend or you're their teacher. Unfortunately I tried too hard to be the friend (subconsciously), and now I have to turn that around and be the teacher. Then, once they begin to respect me and listen to me, then I can lighten up a bit.

So much for not giving up my smile... it's going to go hibernate for awhile.

But, you know, this is another problem with the kids here. Not too long ago they were beat so they would listen, do their homework, and study. In fact, some teachers were talking last week that in the kindergarten classes that is happening right now- and they were totally not okay with it and were deciding how to approach it because they kids were coming to first grade afraid of being hit but at the same time without any knowledge of anything. Not that I would ever be okay with hitting a child, but why did this work in the past? In one room schoolhouses in America, for example, how is it that students actually learned something in school and did it have to do with the punishment? Schools here just don't have any form of discipline... and kiddos don't care if they get good marks or not because their parents are out of the country and the grandparents don't care (this was said to me by a student). They have no desire to learn because they have no consequence of not learning, nor can they see a future for themselves where knowledge is important. Somehow I need to show that that it is important to learn not just for good marks but for their future.

If I could go back and re-do my education, I would have studied and I would have tried to learn the information instead of memorizing it the night before a test. I've learned there is a reason we go to school and we are taught what we're taught (ok, maybe no all subjects... but most of them).

Ahhh I just want to help but I feel like I'm doing nothing!!

... but at least it's 60ยบ and sunny today!


  1. hope you are getting better… sore throat is not a lot of fun its just uncomfortable and difficult to swallow.

    usually, i would take the Nim Jiom Cough Syrup (www.geocities.jp/ninjiom_hong_kong/index_e.htm ) which has a thick consistency formulation. it coats the throat and includes herbs that are particularly good for that application.

    i hope it works on you as well.

  2. even in American schools, the rule of thumb is to not smile for the first 6 weeks or so.. It feels like a joke but it is true. You need to establish authority and rules that the kids understand, then relationships, based upon the teacher as a resource, not a buddy. In a transitioning society, this is even more true. It goes against the American grain, but it works. Pick your battles and get back-up asap. Good luck.