I am getting more and more frustrated with a few of my classes. About half of the classes are under control, but the other half are absolutely undisciplined. I have come to terms with the fact that the overwhelming majority of my students will not learn any English this year, no matter how hard I try, but I cannot that the few who do want to learn English are just out of luck.
I decided to put my foot down this week, but I have been surprised by the resistance I’ve gotten from my coteachers. I always begin by asking a noisy student to be quiet. Almost every single one ignores me and continues to talk. The next time I tell them to quiet in a serious voice. This gets most of them on task, but about a quarter of my noisy students simply ignore me. I am done being nice to these kids.
This morning, I told a kid to face forward, stop distracting the other students, and to be quiet. He laughed at me. This was not a nervous-reaction laugh. This kid was being disrespectful. I calmly told him to get out of my classroom. He kept laughing, so I grabbed his stuff and began to carry it outside. He finally stopped laughing and said “I am be quiet. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.”
The coteacher came over and told me that I should let him stay because he promises to be quiet. If I had listened to her, I would have made it clear to everyone that they don’t have to listen to me. I ignored her and made the kid leave. He sat outside and watched us through the window. He even looked sad when we played a game.
My coteacher went outside and talked to him. She came in a few minutes later and told me that he was sorry and he wants to come in and play. I told her that I cannot let him back in. He doesn’t get to talk through the lecture and then return for the fun part.
She seemed surprised by my answer and pulled me aside. She told me that I need to lighten up because the student would be upset if he didn’t get to play. I was absolutely floored – I didn’t know how to respond. I told her that it was not an option. She explained that he is only disruptive because he doesn’t like English and has trouble understanding me…as if that is a reasonable excuse for distracting the rest of the students.
To her credit, my coteacher didn’t bring him back into the class, even though she made it clear that she was uncomfortable with my decision. I try pretty hard to not step on toes and be a stereotypical America, taking the “my way or the highway” approach. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that I had a choice today.
I’m afraid that, in order to regain control of my classroom, I’m going to piss off more students and teachers alike. I’m OK with that. The students who want to learn should not be forsaken because we can’t (or won’t) establish order in the classroom.
Until next time.