And back talking. And disobedience. And general rudeness.
This is what little boys are made of!
Yesterday was, needless to say, a rough one.
I have two troublemakers in two of my elementary classes: a Mikey* and a Vinny*. Now, I don’t know about you, but those are generally some pretty shit-head names in my book. Everyone knows a Vinny who’s gotten thrown out of the bar. And I can just hear Mikey’s mother screaming his name, loud and shrill, out the window as he races on his bike down the street after leaving a frog in the bathtub.
Mikey and Vinny in South Korea are no different.
Here, Mikey is the clown. He takes my pens. He wants to play games. And shoot rubber bands. And point lasers at his classmates. Nothing horrible, just mildly annoying and expected from an eight year old boy.
Vinny is willfully disobedient. In class, he refuses to participate. When giving directions, there are a lot of “why’s” followed by “because I said so’s.” He will talk to anyone in class, especially when someone else is reading aloud. I usually end up shouting his name and asking if he’s listening. It works for approximately .06 seconds. However, on Monday I promised the class we would play Bingo if they did all their work on Wednesday. After slowly getting through our fill-in-the-blanks and successfully explaining subjects and verbs, the kids were excited to play. Especially knowing that they would be rewarded with a Minion sticker for getting BINGO! Vinny was good. He didn’t fight with me. He listened. It was magical. When he got a sticker, he even said “thank you, teacher” and looked genuinely happy. Progress.
In one of my other classes, we read about Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who helped Jews escape Lithuania during World War II. After we finished the story, I asked my students if they had any questions. “What is Jewish,” they asked. I couldn’t believe it. I literally had to explain Judaism to these kids because it was a foreign concept. To make it worse, the next question was “What is Holocaust?” This one really stunned me. They knew nothing of Hitler, or concentration camps, or genocide, or anything. I stood at the board, speechless, for a while. First I thought, “How is this possible?” Then, I gave them a condensed history lesson because I wasn’t sure what else to do. They looked at me like I was trying to explain astrophysics. It was a very difficult lesson.
Finally, I had another class of four middle schoolers. When I walked into class, everyone was attentive except one kid who always has his head on the desk. I honestly don’t even know his name yet. “Are you tired,” I asked. “Yes,” he replied without picking his head up. “Well, how is everyone doing today,” I asked the rest of the class. The same student said “bad.” I asked him why. “Because you’re here,” he said.
I told him to get up and open his book. Everyone else began reading out loud. When it came time to answer questions, the same student said “teacher, game.” I told him no. He sighed. He rolled his eyes. I told him to stand. Reluctantly, he did. I told him to push in his chair. He listened. Then, I told him to stand in the center of the room and read the passage to the rest of the class. Such struggle. When he finished, I said if he didn’t want to sit in class, he could sit in the director’s office downstairs and he could deal with him.
Do no harm, but take no shit. That was my motto of the day.
Has anyone else had some difficult personalities? How have you dealt with them?
*names of students changed for privacy