Recently my second-year junior high school students (13/14-year-olds) have been less than model students. The intimidation they experienced as first-years at the bottom of the food chain is gone, but the stressful panic of high school entrance exams is still more than a year away. Basically, without something to be afraid of, they won’t behave at all.
Even one of my best students, Y-chan, has turned into a dirty little punk. When I noticed a box filled with tiny pieces of something on her desk, she explained to me that to stave off boredom during class, she painstakingly cuts up her erasers into rice-sized chunks then throws them at her classmates. English class receives no reprieve from this practice, so holding the attention of Y-chan or anyone within launching distance is near impossible. To remedy my frustration, if not the problem, I’ve starting taking a handful of eraser bits before class, then during class throwing them at students who aren’t paying attention.
Another blow to my teaching confidence was dealt by E-kun, a third-grader with a knack for bluntness, if not for English. The little booger came up to me after class one day and said verbatim, but in Japanese, “Mackensie-sensei, today’s lesson wasn’t very fun. Next time I want to play tag in the gym or somewhere we can run around.” Thank you, E-kun, for the performance review. I did take his advice though, and we played tag during our next lesson. The kids had a lot of fun, but I’m pretty sure they learned zero English that day.