Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Discovering My "Mean Teacher" Self

When I was told I was given first grade I knew it was going to be hard. But now that I have actually been experiencing it the experience of it is a lot worse than what I imagined. The sum of things is that the morning classes are darling, but the afternoon classes are evil. I attribute it to that they have a lot of energy by the first afternoon class and then are completely drained by the third.

Because of this there have been several classes that fall into the category of "horrible." They lack in the ability to get ready for class, listen to me and generally keep themselves in check. Yes I know they are first graders and their attention span is not as yet developed. But really things can get to a point where I feel like I am losing it.

What has saved me is discovering the "mean teacher" inside myself. This kind of teacher is the one who will yell at the class in a deep and serious tone. It is the person who gets in their small seven year old faces and tells them to sit down and then asks, "Are you going to be a good boy today?" And guess what? It's been working, and the more I use it the better it gets. On top of this I have a management system of a "red" and "yellow" card. Yellow card means you have to stand and then red card means they are taken to their homeroom teacher.  This has been working too.

Well that is work in a nutshell. Still have a lot to prepare and really want to spend a weekend without it being blown away by extra work. Today I am not doing any afterschool homework and instead I am blogging and playing with Tom.

Let's hope I get out there and actually get a chance to use my shiny new camera!


  1. I used to love my first graders when I taught elementary school. They are so darn cute!
    I quickly discovered that the best way to deal with them is routine. It helps if you have them more than once a week, and if you have more than one class of them as well - apparently the first grade grapevine works just as well as any other.
    Start off every class the same and don't deviate.
    My lot used to do the following in order every class:
    Stand and have the class captain greet me in Korean
    Sit down and then reply to my greeting "Hey Guys!" "Hello Stafford Teeeecha!"
    ask them how they were doing, everyone at first and then three random kids.
    Then I would ask for the date, someone needed to tell me the day, another kid the number, another the month, and finally the weather all of which I would write on the board.
    If I couldn't get through the whole sequence we would start again.
    By about week 3 they got it and by the end of the semester they could do it all themselves unprompted other than having me walk through the door. (Which was quite funny when I would come in outside my scheduled class to just see their teacher or drop something off.)
    Routine routine routine. Apparently it's all about lifting the "affective barrier" but once you have the start of the lesson sorted it's pie from then on in!

  2. Thanks Stafford! I have a routine going but it has been interrupted with seat assignments and other arrangements. But my routine is similar to yours. First off I get everyone's attention by checkin which group is ready. This helps quiet them the best group gets a point.

    Then I give them a big hello and how are you. Going through emotions. Next it's the weather. I like your idea and will try to incorporate that. Then I have been showing them quick math videos to get them interested and then we dive into the book.

    I hope to polish this routine and get them use to it.Just been crazy lately seen we are still dealing with a lot of first of the semester stuff.

    Plus I have to make a lot of the materials since the classroom is bare. Feel like I am almost there, though.


  3. routine is REALLY important for the little ones.

    also: I suggest doing rewards and punishments as a group instead of to individuals. Instead of giving students individual stars and x's, I'd draw three stars on the board at the beginning of the class, and every time a student was out of line, I'd erase a corner of the star, until it was gone. At the end of the class, the number of stars remaining on the board was the number of stickers each student got. If a student did something excellent, sometimes I'd draw a corner back onto the star.

    By rewarding or punishing as a group, the students start to keep each other in check, instead of all correction coming from the teacher. Get social pressure on your side.

  4. Heehee...School Yard Justice is a powerful thing :-) But seriously the group dynamic thing is really importnat given how much a role it plays in Korean society as a whole. And it is strange (concerning to me) how even in first Grade students are all ready aware of the role groups play.
    You're most welcome Joy, it comes on a day when I have spent 6 hours teaching classroom management and how socialisation is just as important as Language teaching in the Young Learners :-)
    Of course things will be hektic in the first week, but I'm sure you can do it!

  5. YES u can do it Joy & u have GREAT mentors!
    Try to cut down on the yelling tho...use a stern serious loud voice if need be! Yelling....has other connotations!

  6. Thanks guys ~ I already have a group reward system set up but I like the idea of erasing the stars. I think I will try that.

    This job certainly is a lot more involved than it has ever been here in Korea. But I kind of like that.


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