Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I am exhausted. Monster class was ultra crazy today. They started out okay and then it just deteriorated after about 15 minutes. Finally I just yelled to get them to be quiet and made them write "English class is not recess" ten times, and they have to take it home to have their parents sign it. There were some kids who behaved well so I put a sticker on their lines to show their parents that they weren't the problem. They seemed to be really into the idea of the sticker chart and getting a prize at the end of the trimester but apparently it just wasn't enough to hold them for 45 minutes! I think I just have to change my approach with them entirely. Quick quick learning of very very short phrases or just a few words, then play like 18 different games that involve lots of getting up and running around. I think that's the only way I can keep some sort of order in that class! Although apparently they were ultra crazy for the remplacant too, she had like five different kids under punishment today. I just hate punishing the kids so I think changing teaching tactics is the best idea.

The new remplacant is tough! She left the room during the English lesson (she needed a break after being with these kids all day long!) and came back at the end while they were writing lines. When I told her what they were doing she started screaming at them and made one little guy cry. Also today one of the CM2 maitresses (there are two women who alternate days, kind of odd) was handing back conjugation homework while I was arranging my stuff at the back of the room after English class was finished and she started ripping into the kids who had done it wrong. I was really surprised by her behavior because she's really sweet and the kids seem to like her a lot, they always want her to participate in English class. I will never get used to the way teachers treat the students in this country. How are the kids supposed to build any kind of self confidence or self esteem if they are constantly being told how dumb they are and what a bad job they did? I guess that's one of the major educational philosophy differences between America and France. In France they are driving them through a machine to turn them into model citizens and filter through the dummies to create an elite ruling class, while in America we're a lot more touchy feely and think about developing the child's personality and character. Now the comment that my conseillere pedagogique gave me after my observation makes a lot more sense. She said "you're very nice and encouraging to the children and I think that's a very good thing, it makes them want to participate in class." Evidently that isn't so common. If I was getting yelled at all day long I'd just sit there with my mouth shut too.

By the way, the observation went really well, she said I did a good job and gave me some really helpful comments. When I remember to bring my notes on her observation down to the computer room I'll post them, maybe they'll be helpful to other assistants.

Wemm, my romance with Random Boy from Bar is over. Yes, I sent him a texto claiming that I started dating one of my friends last weekend. So he texts me back, and this is word for word, with the same spelling he used: "bone chouns a toi vraiment c dur...." In English, this is something like "gode look to you, really is hard." First of all, I think we're being a little dramatic here. Second of all, learn to spell!!!! Good grief, didn't loose out on anything there.


Leah said...

Oh man, I can't seem to NOT comment on your blog these days! K, a few things-I'm glad to hear the star chart got them excited, but you're right, it's only a tool to help motivate them, it won't solve all your discipline problems. You can also manipulate how you work it and, for example, when kids are bad, write their names on the board as a warning and tell them, if they misbehave again, they will get no sticker or some other punishment(lines, kicked out of English class, a letter home to their parents etc) They won't be happy to have their name on the board at all. You can work it over one class, one week or even just as you go along keep track.

For ex:
NameX=no star
NameXXX=letter/kicked out of class

Or something like that anyways...

For the whole class, you can try what I said in another comment to get them to stop talking and if that doesn't work, you can make the entire class sit in silence for one full minute. This will seem like for-ev-er to them, but you have to make sure you tell them that if they start talking or misbehave, the minute starts all over again. The kids who behave will get really annoyed with the misbehavers and normally, you'll get a whole minute done and they will calm down.

I could write a freakin novel about the putting down vs praising techniques of France and the US, but I won't. Basically, I agree with most of what you have noticed. That's why they loooove English class and also why they can easily go hog-wild with you whereas the other teachers can get them to behave.

Ps-With the lines, make sure you explain to them what the lines mean in French if you're having them write in English because it will have a lot more meaning. Also, that was a good idea to put a sticker on those kids papers that were behaving because it's good positive reinforcement for them and also might encourage the bad apples to behave the next time.

Leah said...

Oh! I forgot one thing...about changing activities. At my stage in '04, I got what I found to be really useful advice. The rule of 7. Never teach more than 7 words at a time and never have an activity be longer than 7 minutes. I like to change activities every 5-7 minutes even if it means the same sorts of games/activities that they've played before in other classes...I really find it to be true. Good luck!

Au Soleil Levant said...

Leah, you are my teaching goddess. Thank you so much for all of your tips, you have no idea how much they help!