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Author Topic: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)  (Read 17053 times)

Offline Andyroo

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #60 on: March 27, 2012, 08:35:38 AM »
I'm lucky I have a good school but I don't have my head in the sand.

I know If I was at a school where the Korean treachers weren't controlling the kids in their other classses then my experience would be completely different and you would be pushing it up hill regardless of the language barrier.


Offline deanitsin

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #61 on: March 27, 2012, 09:50:23 AM »


1. Yes but.... again, I didn't say anyone was a bad teacher. So if that was your gripe, you could have saved us both a lot of time?

2. I realize there are a lot of complicated issues involved, and I didn't say no one should ever struggle -- we all have our bad days and our good days, and our bad classes and our good classes. And I never said being good at only classroom management makes you a great teacher (again, I don't know where you got that from). I also never said I was a great teacher.

3. But again.... one more time..... if having to make kids show up with books and materials, sit down, be quiet and pay attention is going to cause you to lose heart in the profession, it probably wasn't for you to begin with. And it probably won't be for you  back at home, or in any other place, either. That's not circumstantial. The only circumstances involved in that is that some NSETs are lucky enough to have co-teachers who do that part of the job for them.

1.
Maybe you're just not cut out to be a teacher, because you don't know how to make 40 children at a time obey you.
If I were being taught by someone who I felt was "not cut out to be a teacher," I'd say that person was a bad teacher.

2. I never said that you said that. No idea where you got that from.

3. That's not "again...one more time." You've changed from what you said originally to make it sound more reasonable. Or at least you've expanded on it as you should have done in the first place in order to clarify a few things.
- It's still wrong of course. I'd say that until you've had training in things like classroom management - because, as I said, not everybody is a natural - then there's no way that you can say someone is or isn't cut out for teaching.

"Some men are born brave. Others become so through training and force of discipline."

1. "You've been able to handle the kids at your middle school. Congratulations. Doesn't make you a good teacher either. " -- As I said, I never said being good at only classroom management makes you a good teacher. Does that not seem like a clear response to that statement?

I'm not going to get into what you think I should have done. I think you shouldn't have jumped to conclusions, and for some reason apparently assumed that I meant good teachers should magically be born capable of their skill set, with no training, experience or preparation, but hey ho, it's a complicated world, eh? I'm glad that my expanding upon what I meant cleared things up for you. I'm still not really sure how needing to be trained in classroom management (or somehow otherwise accomplish it) is an opposing value to the statement that a teacher has to deal with classroom management in order to be an effective teacher, but if you see that as a disagreement, that's fine.

1. Here's the complete quote: "You've been able to handle the kids at your middle school. Congratulations. Doesn't make you a good teacher either. You may be. You may not be and simply think that you are. I don't know. "

I put the extra emphasis on "I don't know" because you either have seriously poor reading comprehension skills or you're deliberately trying to misrepresent me. Either way I'm about done with you now. I never said that you claimed being good only at classroom management makes you a good teacher. Did you even read what I wrote? Why have you understood something completely different from my words? Have you confused me and my argument with someone else and their argument?


I'll summarise my point. Not being able to control a class of 40 kids in Korea doesn't mean that you're not cut out to be a teacher here in Korea or back home. Discipline is a work in progress. You can have a structure in place, it can seem to be working and then the class pulls some s*** and you're like, "What the heck? I thought we'd been through this a dozen times, guys!" You've gotta just keep plugging away and trying new things. What works with one class, won't necessarily work with others and we all know how kids are born with the need to push boundaries. My advice to teachers struggling with discipline would be not to let deanitsin and others convince you that you're not cut out for this job or jobs like it back home just because you struggle with discipline in a few classes. If you struggle with discipline in all your classes then don't give up and write yourself off as not cut out for the job as deanitsin would have you do. Instead, keep trying new things and if you start to feel bitterness or anger towards your students, never let it show. Keep your game face on and implement new disciplinary methods, or perhaps more importantly, methods of reward - it should never be all about punishment. Not being able to successfully control a class, or indeed several classes, doesn't mean you've failed as a teacher and are not cut out for this job. You only fail as a teacher when you totally give up. You may think you have "tried everything" but you have likely barely scratched the surface. Good luck and keep trying despite the naysayers like deanitsin.

Oh, goodness. So much for expanding and clarifying. Glad we had this productive little chat.

Offline Anor Londo

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #62 on: March 27, 2012, 01:10:00 PM »
I started this thread in order to voice my frustration regarding the expectation placed on ESL teachers in Korea. The expectation is to cater students' interests, bearing in mind that the operative word when we are teaching is fun: the students must have fun.

I had not intended for people to discuss disciplinary issues or even the characteristics of a good teacher.

I wanted to put into question the onus placed on us to entertain as we teach, and that the enemy we are fighting against is boredom and not ignorance.

Perhaps I will start a different thread to address some of the issues raised by people who responded to my post.

For now, here are some tentative propositions (a lot of what is written below is unsystematic and a bit on the rambling side):

When it comes to discipline in the class, the discussions of punishment and reward systems et al clearly point to issues of size and general character of student backgrounds.

Which means that the challenges to controlling students usually deal with the number of students we have to manage, heeding to students' emotional characteristics, and understanding their socio-economic profiles.

Although there are exceptions, there is a world of difference between smaller classes with students whose parents have a sizable disposable income to those larger classes with students whose parents are divorced and can't afford to pay for the children's lunch.

The specific disciplinary problem we face could be solved, regardless of class status or class size, if English weren't compulsory. Ideally, instead of requiring students to learn English at a rigorous level, students should be able to specialize or drop the subject if a) they are not good at it and b) they don't like it.

This will entail streamlining English programs in the public school system, meaning less English teachers (native or otherwise), in smaller more specialized classes with students who know the reason they are sitting in that classroom.

Once a condition similar to the one I have suggested--and it is not simply an issue of lesser students, but the type of attitude that these students have with respect to English--can there be   a true discussion about what makes an effective ESL teacher in Korean public schools.

In that ideal system, we could be involved in grading and testing students rather than just a mascot or cheerleader on the sidelines. We shouldn't have to negotiate for that power or authority. 

Now in terms of a more philosophical question, i.e, what is a good teacher, one who goes beyond the call of duty despite of challenges or obstacles, ideally represented in fiction or movies, I guess there is one qualification that I'll throw out there:

A good teacher is honest enough to have the courage to tell students the hard and bitter truth, rather than lie just to collect a pay cheque.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 03:04:07 PM by Anor Londo »

Offline Kev20

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #63 on: March 27, 2012, 02:36:40 PM »
In that ideal system, we could be involved in grading and testing students rather than just a mascot or cheerleader on the sidelines. We shouldn't have to negotiate for that power or authority.

I think we should have to negotiate and the negotiations would be a catch-22 situation. If the powers that be wilted and had us involved in grading or testing, then it would be under the (fully justified) condition that we are fully qualified teachers. If you come to Korea with an irrelevant degree and an online TEFL course, then I think you don't have much leverage to negotiate your current place.

Offline deanitsin

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #64 on: March 27, 2012, 03:19:06 PM »
I started this thread in order to voice my frustration regarding the expectation placed on ESL teachers in Korea. The expectation is to cater students' interests, bearing in mind that the operative word when we are teaching is fun: the students must have fun.

I had not intended for people to discuss disciplinary issues or even the characteristics of a good teacher.

I wanted to put into question the onus placed on us to entertain as we teach, and that the enemy we are fighting against is boredom and not ignorance.

Perhaps I will start a different thread to address some of the issues raised by people who responded to my post.

For now, here are some tentative propositions (a lot of what is written below is unsystematic and a bit on the rambling side):

When it comes to discipline in the class, the discussions of punishment and reward systems et al clearly point to issues of size and general character of student backgrounds.

Which means that the challenges to controlling students usually deal with the number of students we have to manage, heeding to students' emotional characteristics, and understanding their socio-economic profiles.

Although there are exceptions, there is a world of difference between smaller classes with students whose parents have a sizable disposable income to those larger classes with students whose parents are divorced and can't afford to pay for the children's lunch.

The specific disciplinary problem we face could be solved, regardless of class status or class size, if English weren't compulsory. Ideally, instead of requiring students to learn English at a rigorous level, students should be able to specialize or drop the subject if a) they are not good at it and b) they don't like it.

This will entail streamlining English programs in the public school system, meaning less English teachers (native or otherwise), in smaller more specialized classes with students who know the reason they are sitting in that classroom.

Once a condition similar to the one I have suggested--and it is not simply an issue of lesser students, but the type of attitude that these students have with respect to English--can there be   a true discussion about what makes an effective ESL teacher in Korean public schools.

In that ideal system, we could be involved in grading and testing students rather than just a mascot or cheerleader on the sidelines. We shouldn't have to negotiate for that power or authority. 

Now in terms of a more philosophical question, i.e, what is a good teacher, one who goes beyond the call of duty despite of challenges or obstacles, ideally represented in fiction or movies, I guess there is one qualification that I'll throw out there:

A good teacher is honest enough to have the courage to tell students the hard and bitter truth, rather than lie just to collect a pay cheque.

That kind of situation in the public school system would require an overhaul of a lot more than just the English program. It's becoming more and more common for college graduates entering the job market to have to give completely irrelevant interviews in English for even a base-level decent company job. With those kinds of expectations, no one is going to be choosing English as an elective -- it's a required subject because the students really may actually need it to succeed. Just not for actually speaking. Until that somehow changes, English will be a 'necessary' subject, whether the kids like it or not.

Offline Yu_Bumsuk

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #65 on: March 27, 2012, 03:46:32 PM »
In that ideal system, we could be involved in grading and testing students rather than just a mascot or cheerleader on the sidelines. We shouldn't have to negotiate for that power or authority.

I think we should have to negotiate and the negotiations would be a catch-22 situation. If the powers that be wilted and had us involved in grading or testing, then it would be under the (fully justified) condition that we are fully qualified teachers.

Fully qualified to teach elementary or secondary ESL in an immersion environment involves very different training from EFL in a very strong L1 environment. Plus they would have to pay vastly more and have their complete lack of professionalism and incompetence blown up before them. That's never going to happen. A graded curriculum involving foreigners with a degree in anything would be problematic but a vast improvement over the current situation.

Offline Cereal

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Re: Bad Teacher Rant (A loss of faith in teaching ESL)
« Reply #66 on: March 28, 2012, 09:59:48 AM »
Although there are exceptions, there is a world of difference between smaller classes with students whose parents have a sizable disposable income to those larger classes with students whose parents are divorced and can't afford to pay for the children's lunch.

This is the crux of the matter to a large degree with respect to class management and control. I teach at 3 schools, all rural, two elementary and one middle, and I see the both of these situations and most of the in between.
"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."
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