Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Argument for Streaming

I have not been a very good blogger of late, and for that I do apologize to my regular reader. I do have a few reasons/excuses, just as a preamble to today's post:
1) Nothing big to blog about of late, things have mostly trod along on an even keel;
2) School and job-related activities have picked up, what with school going back into session, my extra class for Nambu district requiring some evenings and most of Saturday;
3) Other projects in the sitting at the computer and writing vein, having reduced my will to continue at the same for blog purposes.

And here we are again; nothing much to report, except I had a bit of a fracas with one of my co-teachers last week. As background, let me remind the reader that one of the key classroom management techniques I use here is "the stopwatch", something suggested by Dave Deubelweiss during my initial training by SMOE--so it has the imprimatur, as it were, of my employer. We have fifty minutes of class; when class begins, I start the stopwatch, and when the stopwatch (a big red one with one-inch digits) reads 50:00, class ends. If students won't stop talking, are misbehaving, egregiously off-task, etc., I stop the stopwatch (beep) until they get back to what they should be doing.

Another management technique I've picked up is the "exit pass" or "exit check", where students have to show they completed the written work before exiting the classroom; my co-teacher and I each cover a door and mark them off as they leave.

One of my co-teachers has a tendency to leave class either right at ending time or even a few minutes early. On Wed., he left so early he didn't know I was doing an "exit check" (this is usually only done when a class is not being diligent), putting me in the position of checking all forty students' work alone, and making some of them late for their next class. Unfair.

I happened to catch him in the hall on Thursday and mention to him that he left early, leaving me to do the check alone, etc., etc. He said, he needed his break time before the next class, that he thinks I should only follow the bells, and he recommends that I not use the stopwatch method.

I pointed out that this was the technique I had used since coming to Korea, and no other co-teacher had suggested it was a problem, what was ...--

He said, he could not adjust to my teaching style and if I had anything else to say, I could say it to the Principal! He walked off, leaving me to marvel anew at the psychic treat that is the passive-aggressive.

We co-taught three periods together all last semester, I asked him for his comments and suggestions on my lessons on several occasions, he has my email and phone number, but never once made a suggestion or comment. We were to teach first period together the next day, so I went round to his office when I arrived at school, bearing a blueberry pastry and a bottle of OJ from Tous les Jours. I asked if there was a time we could get together to discuss the problem he told me about, since after all we have practically a whole semester left, and I wanted to make sure he knew how important his contribution was ...

So we sat down after first period and I asked him to help me figure out what we could do about the issues. His only problem, at least that he is admitting to, was not following the bell schedule. I pointed out that since the construction of the new gym outside my very windows, we could no longer hear the bells anyway, so I used the classroom wall clock as a guide.

I asked him to consider the teaching situation from my point of view: I have no power over my classes. If I use the discipline techniques that other teachers use, I could easily be deported for assault. I do not assign grades, and the conversation that is the key aspect of my teaching is not even covered in testing. Just about all I have is to make them stay after class a few minutes when they misbehave.

I agreed with him that yes, it is an inconvenience to the co-teacher, but no more than it is to me, and the whole point of it is to be an inconvenience to the students. Hopefully, they'll remember staying after class and losing their break time, and won't repeat the behavior that led to that outcome.

Besides, I asked, more or less rhetorically, how often have I kept a class late? It's pretty rare, he agreed. He also agreed that he was displeased with his students' behavior in my class sometimes, but he could not stop it. The problem is, he explained to me, while I choked on irony, is that some students are able to get along perfectly well in my class, but some of them do not understand anything I say. They are bored and act out. Wouldn't it be better if each class has students of similar ability?

I sighed. Yes, yes, that would be better.


Superdrew said...

Maybe he was just having a bad day that one day. Or perhaps he is a d-bag. Who knows? You handled it better than I would have, at any rate.

조안나 said...

Love the ending to this story... yes, wouldn't it be lovely?

Anyway, sounds like you handled the situation very well, hope things go smoother in the future!

Superdrew said...

Joanna, 'go smoother' isn't a good way to put it. In your sentence above, smooth is modifying how things will go and therefore is an adverb, not an adjective. Of course the adverb form of smooth is smoothly, so you should have said 'go more smoothly'.

God I hate myself.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

We have to keep reminding ourselves that while NSETs ask very little of our co-teachers - especially those who plan and deliver 95% of our lessons without co-teacher input, many of them still view our class as time they could better use getting some admin work done, or sleeping at their desks. Sad, but true. Remind this charmer of how much work you could be asking of him.