3.3 Fall 2021

November 9, Burnt ends

I mentioned in the previous post that moments of warmth are doled out between servings of trials and tribulations.

The bookends around this cozy weeeknd have been trying.

Friday ended with me witnessing a fifth grade boy and girl fighting in the courtyard which was broken up by other students but not before the boy punched the girl straight in the face.

Maybe one day I’ll work at a school with well behaved students.

I reported it to Helen but who it makes it to is unclear. Do we even have a school counselor? Worse is that if the behavior is reported to the home room teacher, I feel he will ignore it as he seems to have given up on his class.

Yana told me he might not know how to control his students but someone else commented that he may be someone who got into the profession for the long holidays and pension. Unlike the US, teachers in Korea are well respected and taken care of.

A whole weekend passing did not magically straighten out that particular homeroom class. I went in wearily and was greeted by a strange vibe. Like last semester, the students weren’t in their chairs or prepared. The difference was the homeroom teacher was there, but he didn’t do much more than mumble “sit down” before moving to a chair in the back to read a book.

The kids were both distracted and lackluster. They played bingo well enough but when it came time to a pairs duel game, they put in zero effort. I’ve never seen anything like it, except perhaps for the debate kids. To which I wonder, can I please meet motivated students?

They listlessly formed an O or X with their hands and mumbled answers. I was surprised— even the travel school kids loved this and English is much harder for them.

I paused a few times during class and spoke deathly quietly which the kids know is very serious. Even the teacher looked up from his phone at me. I let everyone stew in the uncomfortable silence.

I asked them if they hated the game.

“No!” They said, but continued to perform like zombies.

I stared at the computer mouse for a moment thinking quickly and feeling the swell of frustration rising in my throat.

Should I just stop and make them write lines? Why are we playing this if they don’t care?

One boy, part of the fist fighting trio from awhile back, got up in the middle of class to desde pencils with another student.

We weren’t doing any writing activity.

It was rude and I felt more irritated at the home room teacher for not disciplining his students. Why am I alone in this?

I felt very abandoned in this marriage. We’re supposed to be a team!

I decided to just finish out the last ten minutes. At least let the 2 kids who wanted to participate get a chance.

I left class feeling very deflated. I knew I had to pull it together in five minutes before 6-2 but still felt sad and told my sixth graders so.

“The previous class made me sad so please work hard today.”

I wanted them to understand if I looked down it wasn’t on them. Teacher has complicated feelings, too.

This teacher is still tired from the day, though the sixth graders rescued the mood with humor and effort.

I’m at a loss, honestly. The school needs more counselors for one. As for the other, I’m aware that I don’t know the full story so I shouldn’t be throwing judgements left and right.

But I’m not feeling very forgiving .

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