Expected To Be A Class Clown?

Right now I’m just starting my first teaching job at a major chain school. Most of my classes are elementary school students, though I do have some middle school classes and the occasional high school one thrown into the mix.

The other day, after about 2 weeks into the job, the manager asked me if I could be more energetic in class. I know part of the reason why my classes lack the panache she’s looking for is because I’m still not completely at ease with teaching, but I doubt I’ll meet her expectations even after I settle into the job.

I’m not a shy guy, I’m just not a loud or goofy guy. And I find it hard to amuse children with limited English comprehension. Some of the teachers at my school are totally into the class clown role and their classes are always so loud with the students all worked up and having a blast, albeit at the teacher’s expense. My classes are fun (I hope), just not THAT fun.

On the flip side of the coin, there are also some teachers at my school who refuse to be a class clown. Their classes are fun and they can be funny, but they don’t “entertain” the students, if you know what I mean. And some of these guys have been with the school for a few years, so by that measure I shouldn’t be too worried about being fired for not meeting the manager’s expectations.

What’s everyone’s take on this? Class clown? Or more of a teacher role? And does anyone else despise the fact that Chinese teachers are allowed to be real teachers while foreign teachers are expected to just make the kids laugh?

I am a class clown and need the attention, so even in the university setting I am now in, I ham it up. It’s just an addition to decent preparation and other teaching skills.

That being said though, I’ve had really introverted colleagues who were absolutely loved by their students and who were awesome teachers because of their patience and attention to their students. Everyone has their strong points.

It can be irksome that schools don’t realize that competence comes in many different packages. Nevertheless, don’t forget that keeping your students’ attention is part of a teacher’s job. It’s great if you can interest students in your own particular way and there are indeed many ways to draw attention. Just be careful not to be like one of those boring teachers whose classes you hated in school.

So: balance. Be yourself but try and find some fun activities that work for you. Your role should mainly be that of teacher but young students and students of all ages will learn better with a fun environment and fun teacher. It’s not about a choice between learning and fun. It’s about how to make learning more fun so that students are more into it.

You are being paid to be a clown. The “real” teaching is done by the Taiwanese teachers. Being a clown will ensure you don’t get the ax if they ever decide to cut back. Welcome to the cram school business model.

Not just the cram school business model. It’s not necessarily that different in the public school system either. You’ll never be a “real” teacher here, as much as some people may tell you otherwise.

You’re in the entertainment business guys, get used to it!

Your boss asked you to be ‘more energetic’ in class. It doesn’t sound like an unacceptable request to me.


I think the comments are complete BS. You don’t have to be a clown for the students to have fun. It can be difficult to find activities (some nothing more than games) that you can integrate into the day’s lesson. Today I had 3 activities out of horrifically awful work that the students usually have to do.

1st - We had a review lesson and a picture in the book had answers using the recent sentence patterns that we learned. Instead of doing it the boring standard way (just orally asking students a question). I would ask the question standing at the back of the room, walk/run (based on the student’s ability) and hit their desk if time ran out. What was otherwise boring bookwork had the students laughing and paying attention while reviewing for a test.

2nd - We do a reader and it can be boring sometimes (most of the time). Some days to change the boring pattern I will read the first half but make mistakes. the students raise their hands and read the correction. but the key is to make funny mistakes (that they understand). It can be pretty funny to use the student names with the different verb tenses (He was Franking, she pedro’d, etc…) or substitute in funny animals.

3rd - My least favorite activity is practicing the Christmas carol and this is pretty awful in most classes. but today I split the class into 3 groups and had then separately sing the first 3 lines and combine for the 4th line. and shockingly they kept asking for one more time.

Now maybe some will consider being a clown but I consider this playing the same as I would with my younger nephews/nieces/cousins. A lot of it also has to do with your attitude. And I also constantly remind myself that these kids are burnt out with school before they even show up. If you don’t have some way to engage them in the class then most of them won’t be paying attention anyway. And it won’t matter how good you are at traditional teaching (the real nuts and bolts of English) because they won’t be listening.

You’re only saying that because you can’t top your previous post on the subject.

“You make happy. Sing song, OK?”

You’re only saying that because you can’t top your previous post on the subject.

“You make happy. Sing song, OK?”[/quote]

:roflmao: I hadn’t heard that one before.

spot on. But to be fair, it can’t be expected that a newbie knows about this.

You’re only saying that because you can’t top your previous post on the subject.

“You make happy. Sing song, OK?”[/quote]

Oh, you chaps and your long memories. I am unable to beat it, 'tis true.

Teach how we say animal sounds in English.
Sing Old MacDonald.
When you come to the horse’s part, put hand over chest and do can can.
Actually… Don’t… unless you really want the kids on the floor they. They will roll in the aisles.

Professor Nebulous: What? I’m not a clown… not a clown… […] I shall not clown… I shall not clown…

Ham will be served!
Some of you guys hit it right on the head! I find that at any level here the more you ham it up the better. That is what students like in Taiwan. For the most part people in Taipei study/work + have dull lives IMO and like entertainment. I used to hate it but after a year or so I had to let my hair down. Still I have met people that have taught here for 20+ years and are very straight laced and serious and do well. More than one model works.

BUT for the most part you have to wake them up in class. My adult classes need it too. We had a topic about a killer, the legal systems in The USA, England and Canada and except for my “brainy” class I knew the other classes would have little to say. I needed an activity, so I had a funny story about a killer, diamonds, a European mistress, etc. The class had to solve it. This is more of what they want, if it’s too serious usually not so hot! You have to adjust to classes which takes some effort at times.

A co-worker of mine from the UK told me as he was leaving Taiwan in 2004. “You have to be a comedy act, a storyteller, a showtune singer and a scholar, because many of the students arrive in a trance, adults and even some of the kids.”

A co-worker of mine from the UK told me as he was leaving Taiwan in 2004. “You have to be a comedy act, a storyteller, a showtune singer and a scholar, because many of the students arrive in a trance, adults and even some of the kids.”

i’m sort of a newbie here but i would like to share my opinions from my humble amount of understanding of taiwanese history… first of all, that entire society was solely based on a military type of marshall law ruling shortly after ww2, when it was giving back by the japanese. their education system was all about military structure, to be ready to fight the invasion from mainland china if it were to happen. little kids were in uniforms and had to do group exercises before class started in the morning, also had to clean their classrooms and shared hallways and restrooms before they were able to go home. (tho not sure if that’s still the case… ) boys had to shave their hair down to 1 or 2 cm and girls had to keep their hair at ear length (if you even call that length…) there were teachers (or drill sergeants really… ) that would stand in hallways with bamboo sticks ready to crack open a can of serious whip ass!! i mean it was a total hardcore left brain thinking deal and right brain thinking behaviors were not allowed and looked down upon… they also forced kids to write with their right hands and punished them for using their lefts. those generations who were kids in that era are now running that country. therefore the whole stiffness personality is just embedded in their culture. even tho the younger generations try their best to break away from that by wearing redneck trucker hats and crazy j-rock hair style (but that’s just the surface…) i believe one of the reasons why they send their kids to learn from the foreigners, is to really break away from that old school thinking from the inside. i believe they don’t just want to learn the language (hell, they also have english classes in their public school system too, but they still freeze when they try to talk to foreigners) i really believe what they really want to learn is your cultures and how you interact with others. so show them some sarcasm and sense of humor that they are just dying to learn. man, i love mr. bean…

You are right in a lot of ways Superjack. A lot of parents want their kids to be able to relate to ‘foreigners’ on an easier level, although they often the wrong impression of ‘foreigners’ from jumping jack-asses in the classroom, ones that are paid to be friendly and nice to them all the day. Plus the whole lumping of foreigners together is a strange aspect of Asian culture. Anyway…the parents would be better of spending the money on sending them to Phillipines or Australia or other countries for summer camps or family holidays if they could afford it.

I wouldn’t say lumping foreigners together is a specifically Asian thing though. I think in most parts of the world there is a highly detailed system of differentiating locals or immeidate neighbours, and then there are “others”. My mother’s understanding of nationality or ethnicity would basically extend to people from (white) English speaking countries, plus a couple of Western European nations. All Scandinavians would be the same to her. All Eastern Europeans would be the same to her. Then the rest of the world would basically be divided into a few groups – Latin Americans, Middle Easterners, Indians (i.e. people from the Indian sub-continent), and East/Southeast Asians. It’s probably not uncommon.

GIT you make a fair point there. It’s not as different as I imagine sometimes and they are slowly beginning to cotton on to existence of European countries and Australia etc. In general the buxiban system is a crock of shit (bilingual kindergarten and anchiban has some merits I guess), I really think they should close them down, save the money and send the kids overseas for trips…but a lot of you guys might not be into that idea!

Guys they don’t need to close them down. All they need to do is change the structure. Trips are great, but that could be expensive too and 2 or 3 weeks even a month in another country is good but will give them very limited exposure. I still think it is a good idea though if possible, younger students would need mucho supervision. But schools need to teach about different topics and subjects not just the standard nonsense using english. Students don’t get much exposure to anything different through TV or the media here (most countries) so give it to em in class. Like the lumping thing…how does that happen anywhere? Give them something different.

folks, please allow me to show you an interesting example of the thirst for western cultures from the japanese… maybe you could understand my point a little better about the kids in taiwan…

well if you think this is just an extreme example, just so you know that they would also dress like your typical old skool crips and bloods. i mean to the point that some of them even painted their skin black! (not shown in this video of course…) haha… i remember seeing this one japanese guy who dressed up like snoop dawg and walked around going " yo yo yo L… B… C… " while he was smoking a fatty! or… what looked like a fatty at least… lol and as well as the whole hispanic gang bangers with hairnet and all that jazz… lol i swear, i was dying… but if they were to do stuff like this in the states, it’ll be a freaking outrage with every equal rights organization flipping their lids!! lol i mean to me, this is just pretty obvious how much they’re curious to learn about other cultures. and you know sumpen…? none of them spoke english, and i’m pretty damn sure that they have gone through a fair share of english classes from their public schools too!

btw, by no mean i’m trying to say that the taiwanese should also get into low riders as well… i mean but if that does happen, i’d pay to watch that! hahahaha… :roflmao: