Aug 25, 2009

frustrations

Okay. I just spent the last month teaching 100 students pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and colloquialisms in the English language. Yesterday, I asked each of them if they had done their homework, and fully HALF of them said, "No teacha, I ause yeseday," (No teacher, I was absent yesterday.)

So, why go to all the trouble to present this stuff, if they are so willing to throw it aside when they have the opportunity to use it in a more authentic way than a contrived dialogue written in their textbooks? Never mind the fact that most of them WERE NOT absent - why NOT add what they learn to their repertoir, rather than stick with the "I ause yeseday"? What better way to personalize and make an authentic conversation than to talk about something real for them?

Today they have their final written exam, tomorrow they have to present a project in spoken and written form, and on Thursday, they have an oral exam in which they have to make use of all the language they have in their lessons. "I ause yeseday" gives me no confidence at all that they have learned or have tried to learn anything. I guess I'll see.

I've been told by the administration that I'm too demanding and that I expect way too much from my students. I wonder if that's bad. I expect them to be motivated and study. I expect them to come to class. I expect them to do their homework. I absolutely expect them to respond in some way, be it a correct answer, an "I don't know," or even "I don't really care." At the end of the cycle, many of them try to wheedle a better grade out of me by whining and tearing up or batting their eyes and flirting with me. Some try to intimidate me into raising their grades. Still others use guilt trips and head games, and one even resorted to the traditional Peruvian way - bribery.

I don't remember school or the few college classes I took being anything remotely like this. Maybe all those years working for the Air Force made my world too sheltered and structured. What ever happened to integrity, responsibility, and impeccability? Actually, I'm not that hard of a person. If I can see some TRY in a student, I'm willing to give him or her the benefit of the doubt. But to spend the cycle piddling around, talking about boyfriends, trying to sleep in class, or just not coming, and THEN try to squeeze extra points out of me? Sorry baby, I'm not that easy.

11 comments:

Miss T said...

It *wasn't* like this back in the day, but the sad thing is that students are like this now, and not just in Peru.

wildtomato said...

You sound like a fantastic teacher. *pats you on the back* It doesn't sound like you're too demanding at all. Rather, some of your students sound a tad disrespectful. Using a cell phone in class? Come on! That is tacky, tacky, tacky.

Margaret Cloud said...

Kathleen, this has to be hard on you. I can remember in school one or two pulling this on the teacher, but a whole class, oh boy. I thought you wrote in one of your post you were coming back home! I will say a prayer for your class, hang in there and don't give in to them. Try and have a nice week.Give Celeste a great big hug and scratch.

Kim said...

Applause applause! Don't lower your standards!

knittingdragonflies said...

You are right, stay strong, that has to be really hard, we all know you do it to help your students, and they will too, in time.
Vicki

Pondside said...

I hope that by now you're on holiday in the US, with thoughts of recalcitrant students far from your mind. Don't lower your standards - they sound very fair to me. A hand out is a hand out, whether it's money or an unearned mark, and both insulting to the one giving and the one getting. Hang in there!

Monica said...

Just thought I'd comment on this. I have read your blog for a while now because I was interested on your experiences in Peru first, then later interested in what you have been missing. I've gleaned your frustration and your expectation that things should happen your way. The right way. I hoped that you, at some point, would realize that there are so many right ways and be open to them and embrace them. I see you haven't and your students suffered. If you had taught to them, as they are; if you had accepted them as they are, they would have, perhaps, learned a little bit more. You missed a great opportunity for yourself to learn, appreciate, and incoporate the cultural difference into your life, and therefore your students suffered. You didn't teach/speak to your audience, you wished they were someone else all this time.
Yes, I agree you shouldn't lower your standards....your standards should have been higher for yourself. I think you failed as an educator.

My two cents.

M.

Margaret Cloud said...

Kathleen here is a link you should read, it might make you feel better.

http://oldladylincoln.blogspot.com/2009/09/with-school-starting-again-this-is.html

Margaret Cloud said...

Kathleen, did I email you a link today? Please let me know.

Kim said...

Just wondering how you are doing? I miss your pithy comments!

Margaret Cloud said...

Coming by to see how you are doing. Hope everything is going okay.