This post from Brian struck a cord with me.
I have recently been struggling to care about the students whom I teach. There is the odd few that I want to help, no matter what, but…
My part of the curriculum in this middle school counts 10% of the final mark. The only speaking evaluation that they get counts ONLY 10% of their final mark. The ability to actually communicate in the language that they are studying counts ONLY 10% of their final mark.
For me to calculate this mark I give an oral test every two chapters as well as assignments/homework. Most students could not care less about the homework. They will either leave the homework, untouched, on the table as they leave or they will just throw the paper away at the door.
“Surprisingly” these are the same students who feel that “YES!” is the best answer to “What is most important in your life?” They feel that the two sentences they have to study over one week is just too difficult, because they “don’t understand” me. I suppose their Korea must be really bad as well, because they are unable to understand the Korean that their English teachers speak, which means they can’t ask them either.
These students will inevitably get a mark of about 20% from me. This they get for actually being in class. The mark will then get adjusted to be out of 10, with 6, 7, 8 and 10 the only options. Yes, there is no mistake. You are not allowed to get 9. A student who turns up in my class and willfully does nothing will get 60% and a student who deserves a 9 will get an 8. On the plus side, I can say: “Truly, I am an amazing teacher to be able to say that not one of my students scores less than 60%.”
Add to this that students know it doesn’t matter if they are never able to speak English. In Korea they don’t need it and even when they travel they do it with Korean tour guides, go to Korean restaurants and watch Korean TV. Basically, they will never have to Speak English because they will effectively never leave Korea.
There are up to 40 students in a class. A period lasts 45 minutes and students are unable to arrive on time so I am lucky to get 40 minutes. Some students, as I already said, don’t care. Some students do. The ones who don’t care make it almost impossible for me to teach the ones who do, so I have started sending out the students but disrupt the class. Recently the one group has been getting FUCKING RUDE about their IDIOTIC DOKDO KAK as well. Last week I was told I am not allowed to too send students out of the class any more. I was told by my teacher “I don’t want you to send the students out any more”. I DON'T WANT? You don’t lift a finger to help me with discipline even after I asked for help, and now you think you get to tell me what to do for discipline? You allow student to disrupt the whole class and then you try to take the moral high ground by saying it is unfair to send them out? What about the students who behave themselves and try their butts off every week?
My new philosophy is “Do as little as possible”.
If a student asks for help then I will help. If they don’t, then I won’t. I will teach the students who care and claim there wasn’t enough time to give everyone individual attention. The end result will be the same, so why should I stress myself out in a system that cares more about making everyone look good than about what the students learn?