Losing my cool in class

I did a search but I wanted my own thread.

I’m a teacher in a small Taiwanese-run Buxiban in Shulin. The environment is pretty OK compared to some schools I work at, the money always comes on time (never a problem), and the kids, for the most part, are cool.

My class has 14 kids, mostly around 7-8 years old, with one 11 year old and a ten year old. Their abilities are mostly matched up except for a couple of stragglers who should have been put into a lower level. (I deal with this by spending a little extra time with them and I made the school hire me an assistant to help review with the slow kids and some administrative chores.)

In my opinion, the curriculum is piss-poor, and too difficult, and my school has some sort of market where they sell a “higher level of english than most schools” by trying to cram a grade three curriculum into a grade 1’s head. I spend a lot of time (unpaid) doing a lot of prep to make the lessons learned in the books (I’m expected to work through the books on a schedule) make sense and have the lessons be reinforced by interesting and (I hope) fun activities. I play games sparingly when we have a few extra minutes to do them. I prefer prepping creative writing/art activities that follow the curriculum as best I can. I don’t really have a problem with extra prep, as I get results and positive test scores, but I will be asking for a raise when my contract comes up.

As kids will do, they sometimes act up, get on an adults nerves, don’t do thier homework, don’t listen, feel tired, and are a bit disapointing. They sometimes don’t learn the trick of what you are trying to teach them in the time frame you are trying to teach it, and they (as you are the teacher) create concern. Any teacher wants the kids to do well, I think.

I am basically unsupervised at my school. I am regarded as the "top " teacher because my kids mostly love me, and it’s apparent how much effort I put into my job. I work the kids hard, and expect the best that I think I can get from them. I am the money earner, as far as I know, and I have put a head cap on my class at 14. So far, Management (what little there is) has concurred with my every wish.

The student’s parents, for the most part, don’t seem to care, or they don’t have any negative feedback, at least. I really don’t know.

Last friday I ended up losing my cool over a little girl (that started it) because (well, I don’t really know why I lose my cool) she was basically totally non-responsive to a quiz that I had written that I felt would be the best way to see how she was doing with the curriculum at that time. I have had this kid come in twice a week for about a month to get extra help and catch up with the rest of the class. no dice. She’s the kind of little person who is shy and rarely speaks, even when spoken to. She’s a very nice little girl. I sure wish I knew how to get her to catch up.

I ended up losing my control during the quiz by demanding that this little girl answer my verbal questions about the part of the quiz that she wasn’t writing. She didn’t respond at all (normal for her) and I got red in the face and left the room for 5 minutes. I washed my face, came back, looked at the other kid’s work, looked at a lot of stupid mistakes, grabbed all of the test papers, and told them all to listen up.

Pencils down! Look at me! What is this! (indicates something) What do I do if (indicates something) ! Right! so how come you guys don’t get it! We’ve been doing this for months! Listen to me! I SAID PUT YOUR PENCIL DOWN! WHAT DID YOU SAY? GET OUT!

I lost my temper in front of a bunch of little kids for something that is probably quite difficult for them. I feel like the dumbest retarded excuse for a teacher that ever walked off the banana boat. I suck! The little girl in question (actually my favorite student because of the great advances she has made) had a look not unlike shock on her face. She apparently went home crying to her father, and he is apparently thinking about taking her out of English school completely.

I feel like such a shit. I’ve been known before as a hothead, and it has taken me many years to deal properly with my emotions, etc. And here I am. Yelling at a class of 7-8 year olds.

Monday’s class went well, but I feel tired. And sick. I haven’t had a holiday in a long time, and I’m hoping my break in Thailand will cheer me up. I’m going to school there! No beaches for me!

This is my first Taiwan rant, and I think it’s about me.

Teacher Shitty

Never walked in your shoes, but it looks to me that you answered your own question, except you didn’t ask a question. Enjoy Thailand!

It happens to everyone and it happens because you really care about the kids but you’re working in circumstances that are far from ideal. Take your vacation and don’t beat yourself up over it anymore. The kids obviously love you and they will forget about it quickly. I’m sure they’ve seen an adult lose their temper before. If it’s appropriate, you could write a little note/card of encouragement to the little girl in question telling her how far she’s come and that you’re very proud of her.

Been there in a sense. Told one student to go to another school if she didn’t like it. Told one class that they were all monkeys. Some students were gone after that. Don’t know if it was because of that. More my bosses fault than mine. For sure.

THAILAND! I’ll be doing the same in two or three months. Not to study though.

Thanks, peachka. They looked at me a little bit strangely on monday as I am generally a very too intense guy but I know also that they will get over it. Don’t much like getting intense over kids that are probably overworked and under attended. Hope to be a good parent one day. I don’t know.
I’m going to Thailand to have some fun (hopefully: never been anywhere in Asia but here) and aslo to learn more about Thai food. I hope to start at small eatery in a year or two. I’m a damn good cook!

Can’t teach forever, I think, but I sure want to do a good job while I’m doing it! It’s not a bad way to earn money. I’ve done much worse.

feeling better already. Thank you!

Dude, sadly, it does come with the territory. And if you don’t do it all the time, then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Buy a bag of candy and say, “Teacher J was a real poopoohead last week and I’m am sorry.”

Little kids are fairly resiliant to this kind of well…abuse, and if you’re starting a thread for karmic payback, this thread may give some to you, but I think, as you have the sack to start this thing, you must be hurting, and for me, that’s enough.

You say you need a break, but breaks don’t always come at the right time. You can do what you can do for this little girl too, and nothing more.

Focus in the classroom and relaize that a lot of these kids do not have parents who can help them in English, and probably they don’t even help them with their Chinese homework. You can only do so much bud. We, as teachers, are really in uncharted waters here in Taiwan. Nearly unregulated and for the most part unqualified; yet it is strange how so many of us do try to hold ourselves accountable. This is a good thing, but again, unless you’ve earned an MA in Early Education and had hours and hours of classes and observation watching real teachers teach kids in your home country, and course upon course of child psychology…well, you’re winging it. Just try to wing it real good! :slight_smile:

Take a deep breath, and be the best part of their day. :slight_smile:

Peace
jdsage

Well written jdsmith. I agree, if you don’t lose it at any time while you’re here, you’re either Buddha or you don’t care much about the job you’re doing. Especially with 7-8 year olds…sheesh!

[quote=“jdsmith”]… but again, unless you’ve earned an MA in Early Education and had hours and hours of classes and observation watching real teachers teach kids in your home country, and course upon course of child psychology…well, you’re winging it. Just try to wing it real good! :slight_smile:
[/quote]

I feel really small right now. About
this big
.

I am winging it. 7 years of winging it. Ok, time to go.

Seriously though, I hope that I can make a difference. BUT, really, the reality is, I am just winging it. Sure, I have about 7 years of winging it to call upon and don’t make the same mistakes twice. I hope that counts for something. However, when I train new teachers, well, I always hope they can do a better job than me. Really. However, it’s so difficult to find people who care about the job as much as I do. That’s why I stay. I don’t want new teachers to have to wing it with kids that I’ve invested so much time into. I don’t want to see newbies struggling to get by. I don’t want to see a newbie getting the run around.

Anyway, tempers… yeah, I’ve lost it a few times in 7 years, but nothing serious, and nothing that wasn’t … erm… in some way, called for. This week I had a HUGE student pushing other students on the stairs. When I stopped him he pushed me too. Grrrr,… we had a talk. Actually, I think he was more afraid that I could be angry in Chinese and less afraid of the anger.

I don’t get angry over tests. I will tell them that I am not happy about it and what they should have done.

[quote]I feel really small right now. About this big.

I am winging it. 7 years of winging it.[/quote]

Look, this was a reality check. Apparently it was a pretty good one. I was chaneling someone last night I guess.

I know some of you out there are good wingers and given the chance would go to grad school and get the learnin necessary, but we know that’s not gonna happen. I have a MA in TESOL and should have a MA in secondary Ed, but I won’t ever get it.

So wing it. Use your oodles of common sense and do your best to pass on to others what you know.

I am far from the most peaceful guy in class. I’m a very demanding teacher and although I’m fair, I can be hard. I do not think I’d be so hard with proper education and training.

I live in Taiwan. I care about my job like you wouldn’t believe. I honestly and sincerely TRY my best every day. And bassman and others are right there with me on the same page.

So, you wingers out there. Relax. No one is judging you. This is a great forum for all things teaching related.

I would like to once again bring up the Teachers Network idea. I am here, and there are others would love to get together once and while regularly and shoot the poop, throw around some ideas, and learn some tricks and things.

There’s no trick. It’s just a simple trick. :wink:

The trick is: you have to give a shit.

Peace

jdstrikesagain

Well, here’s to giving a shit, doing our best, winging it, and getting better with experience.

Thank you, teachers! :notworthy:

:smiley:

AND: remember to not take your work home with you!

[quote=“jdsmith”][quote]I feel really small right now. About this big.

I am winging it. 7 years of winging it.[/quote]

Look, this was a reality check. Apparently it was a pretty good one. I was chaneling someone last night I guess.

I know some of you out there are good wingers and given the chance would go to grad school and get the learnin necessary, but we know that’s not gonna happen. I have a MA in TESOL and should have a MA in secondary Ed, but I won’t ever get it.

So wing it. Use your oodles of common sense and do your best to pass on to others what you know.

I am far from the most peaceful guy in class. I’m a very demanding teacher and although I’m fair, I can be hard. I do not think I’d be so hard with proper education and training.

I live in Taiwan. I care about my job like you wouldn’t believe. I honestly and sincerely TRY my best every day. And bassman and others are right there with me on the same page.

So, you wingers out there. Relax. No one is judging you. This is a great forum for all things teaching related.

I would like to once again bring up the Teachers Network idea. I am here, and there are others would love to get together once and while regularly and shoot the poop, throw around some ideas, and learn some tricks and things.

There’s no trick. It’s just a simple trick. :wink:

The trick is: you have to give a shit.

Peace

jdstrikesagain[/quote]

So true. If you give a shit then you’re doing something right. Or at least making a difference in what you’re doing.

[quote=“canucktyuktuk”]Well, here’s to giving a shit, doing our best, winging it, and getting better with experience.

Thank you, teachers! :notworthy:

:smiley:

AND: remember to not take your work home with you![/quote]

Yes.

I find this type of work makes it easy to not take the job home with you. I stopped doing that quite a while ago. Before I taught. You know what the most influencial thing is to bring the job home with you? Hanging out too much with people you work directly with. Then it’s complain, complain, complain.

Sometimes even that is difficult.

I like to give my students the task of preparing cliff notes for a presentation on movies that I have assigned. They frequently don’t quite grasp the concept so show up with long, detailed descriptions of plot written in long, convoluted grammatically :loco: sentences. Last week a really nice girl was just getting to the end of her monologue, which I had “attempted” to interupt with a bit of insightful commentary and a few questions, when suddenly I just lost it. “Blah blah blah bullshit bullshit bullshit The End” I said in a joking tone of course and with the implied (I hope it was obvious) purpose of releasing her from the spot she was in. Still though I don’t think it went down too well. Another lady couldn’t seem to comprehend the sentence, “The toast is burning” from Carolyn Grahams Grammarchant tape despite all manner of (no doubt third rate) translation and body language that went into explaining it. Finally I asked if she had any bread and then proceeded to turning the toaster to max and popping in a slice. No, I would not allow her access to her own toaster until flames were practically shooting out the top of the thing. I could go on and on. Don’t feel too bad Canuktyuktuk. We are only human after all and people here understand that pretty well I think. Anyway, they always seem to forgive me and I sometimes do some pretty crazy stuff.

To a certain degree, you have to give a shit. I was teaching one class today and thought, “They’ve had enough” and I had twenty minutes left. Strange, but true. Guess that’s when you move on to free talk. And I did. So, it was all teaching except for the last 10 minutes of playing “One card” where I actually get to see how their English is in a free speaking, relaxed environment.

That is what they want and very likely one of the things they need most. If you can simply maintain a conversation or some sort of task directed interaction especially then you are probably doing a brilliant job.

I have been guilty of losing it with some students. It’s scary to feel your grasp slipping. On a few occasions I have even raised my voice. I feel very guilty and apologize to the student or students in question and explain why I got frustrated. Walking out and splashing water on your face shows that you already have some fine managing techniques yourself. :slight_smile:

One afternoon this year, I sent my 4th graders to the library ahead of me like I usually do (since it’s on a different floor) so I could lock up the classroom for the night. I got downstairs and walked into the library and they were all so quiet and doing what they were supposed to do. So I jokingly said, “Hey who are you and what did you do with my students?” As the words were leaving my mouth I shuddered. I had totally invalidated their good behavior by taking away all the credit from them, claiming that they are not being normal because they were well-behaved. Well, the next week they returned the favor by being loud and misbehaving when I walked into the library. Shit, I still feel guilty about having said that and that was nearly two months ago.

It happens to the best of us, canucktyuk, but the best of us can aspire to cope with it as well as you did.

[quote=“jdsmith”][quote]I feel really small right now. About this big.

I am winging it. 7 years of winging it.[/quote]

Look, this was a reality check. Apparently it was a pretty good one. I was chaneling someone last night I guess.[/quote]

Perhaps it was a reality check, but the more I think about it I think that “winging it” could be explained further.

Honestly, I don’t believe in winging it in most areas. If I don’t know something, I’d rather just admit it and do my best to find the correct answer / solution / method. If I can’t, then I guess it comes down to working out if winging it is going to do harm if you get it wrong.

I don’t know that common sense is winging it.

[quote]…

I live in Taiwan. I care about my job like you wouldn’t believe. I honestly and sincerely TRY my best every day. And bassman and others are right there with me on the same page.

So, you wingers out there. Relax. No one is judging you. This is a great forum for all things teaching related. [/quote]

The thing that raced through my head is this… MY students don’t pay for “winging it”. I wouldn’t pay for a teacher that is winging it. For the salaries that are paid… well, I wouldn’t expect to pay a teacher for just “winging it”.

Yes, there are things that I don’t know how to do. If it’s something important, I won’t do it until I know that I have something that people will pay for. I wouldn’t “wing it” with the customers money. I don’t know anything about teaching junior high school kids what they need to know to pass their school tests… so, I don’t teach that. I will never wing it for the cash. In our school winging it stands out like a sore toe.

[quote]I would like to once again bring up the Teachers Network idea. I am here, and there are others would love to get together once and while regularly and shoot the poop, throw around some ideas, and learn some tricks and things.

There’s no trick. It’s just a simple trick. :wink:

The trick is: you have to give a shit.[/quote]

I agree.

Hey, some people with all the qualifications in the world are just winging it. :slight_smile: I’ve just spent several months putting in the ground work for some changes to our buxiban program. All of that work was to make sure that we wouldn’t be winging it. I won’t, and can’t, have (too much) winging it in our school, it’s just too dangerous.

The dangerous “wingers” are the ones you read about in the newspaper sticking pins into kids and locking them into school buses.

Whatever you do, do it professionally. Ok, if I am winging it, I am going to be the most professioal winger out there to the point that the real pros can’t even tell that I am winging it. Heck, last month I was asked to be a demonstrator for a series of books that I only just started using… I wouldn’t do it, that WOULD be winging it.

I hear what JDS is saying, and I know his heart and can agree with everything he says - ONLY because I know him. But, I think that there are many people out there that are going to read “winging it” the wrong way… and that scares me. So, can we have a new term or something?

Sure, I follow you Bassman. “Winging it” in the way I used it doesn’t mean going into a classroom completely unprepared and talking your way through the next 50 minutes.

Not at all.

Sure, I follow you Bassman. “Winging it” in the way I used it doesn’t mean going into a classroom completely unprepared and talking your way through the next 50 minutes.

Not at all.[/quote]

I am not sure that I mean that either. What I mean is, does the school, and the teachers, know what they are doing? Do they know how to provide the service that they are being paid to provide in a professional manner? Winging it in class is just plain stupid … Although, sometimes, if a teacher is sick, my own prep can be that I’ve done that same class hundreds of times… :blush:

Anyway, I am Waaaaaaaaaaaaay off topic.