Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Students not doing homework!

One of the frustrating things for me as a teacher is when I work really hard to prepare an engaging and interesting lesson that is based on the work from the previous lesson and builds on the homework that I assigned last time, only to walk into a class where half or more of the class hasn't done the homework. Especially when the homework takes 5-15 minutes to complete.

This happened in two classes yesterday (including one class called "honors"). I made the students who didn't do their homework write letters of apology to me, to their classmates, and to their parents (although it's in English, so their parents will never really be able to read it) while the rest of class proceeded with the lesson I planned. Then they had to stay after to finish the 5 minute homework assignment. I thought this was fitting (although I wish I had a way to waste more of their time because they are wasting my time--maybe writing lines after class next time in addition to the quick homework assignment). I thought this was fine. They promised to do their work for next class. If they didn't, then I could go back to making English study painful for them, although I'd much rather have class be fun.

But I mentioned it to their Korean teachers... mostly just to commiserate; but then the students were lectured and disciplined in Korean by their other teachers, too. I don't really know how I feel about this. I know at Oedae I share students and often I have to lean on the Korean teachers because I cannot always communicate with the students (well, the students pretend not to understand me--which is BS most of the time and just an excuse for them to not listen to me) and I definitely cannot communicate with the parents, but I'm not used to other people punishing my students for actions in my classes unless it's extreme. I usually have the "I'll handle behavior problems myself" attitude (hence the letters and the lectures), and I've usually found students pretty responsive to this approach.

I think what bothered me is that one teacher said she will move a very bright, but unmotivated, student down a level because of this assignment and another teacher told me she hit the kids and that it was ok "because they are boys." I hope both of these things were jokes, but sometimes I'm not sure.

I like that Samson and the Korean teachers will back me up, but I'm worried about my relationships with the students. They need to see me as an authority figure and a real teacher or they'll keep blowing off my class. Maybe I should just assign more homework so they can't forget it--going with more assignments based on rote memorization and less creative thinking. Maybe I should just not mention any problems I'm having with a student to the other teachers unless I want them to do something about it.

Sigh. In some ways this job is easier because I've taught before, but in other ways it is more frustrating because I know I'm a much better teacher than this. I still don't know if it's the age of the students, the cultural differences, or the language barrier that is making me feel like they just aren't learning anything from me. A big part of it is that they don't care about my class.

And no amount of lecturing from another teacher is going to change that one.

1 comment:

  1. I know your pain!

    The one thing to remember, the hogwan is not their real school. While you would love it if they all always did their homework and put a lot of time into it, your HW is on top of their school HW and in addition to other hogwan HW. Now, certainly it's not acceptable for kids to *never* do your HW, but sometimes you have to simply remember that this is just extra practice for them.

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