Thursday, May 01, 2008

General oddness

I had an odd sort of day today. The 'difficult' class of repeat students has apparently decided that I'm an acceptable teacher to have after all, and hung around for their full ninety minutes, the annoying little buggers. The first two weeks they were out the door before I'd finished telling them we could finish early if they wanted. Suddenly they're hanging around and wanting to talk, and I'm the one wanting to rush off because my next class is way across campus. Obviously they're having too much fun. Must remember to give them something tedious next week.

Then the student I wrote about earlier who is my only weirdo this semester revealed his true colours. Not in a way you can fault, exactly, but he made my last class, which I had thought would be easy, incredibly difficult. He is a model student. He does exactly what he is told. But he does it with an air of patronizing patience. He is a big lump of a guy (not fat, but big), who wears his trousers up around his nipples somewhere and has the social skills of a tub of lard. He seems to regard the other students as silly children, and it is hard to believe he is only nineteen himself. He is like a tired old man, bored with the silly infants he is being forced to associate with.

None of this would be a problem, except that any student I pair him with, or group I put him in, gets the life sucked out of it so fast it's like it has moved into the orbit of a black hole. As it is a small class (only twelve students!), this is affecting the entire class. I get them changing partners and groups often, to spread the pain, but all that means is that the black hole gets moved around the room like a vacuum cleaner, sucking the energy out of the whole place. I can see the other students trying hard, the sweeties, trying to include him in the general fun, but he discourages them and it is starting to show. They are becoming reluctant, and I don't blame them. That kid is a VAMPIRE.

I am tempted to tell him to sit in a corner and talk to himself next week. I won't, of course, but I don't know what I will do.

In the repeat students class I did the general knowledge quiz today, which is part of the reason they had so much fun. They were astonishingly bad at it, and LOVED it. My favourite little discussion came when I asked the question,

"Which country was Picasso from?"

The two guys who were trying to answer the question went into a huddle.

"All I can think of is Spain," said one to the other, half apologetically, and I almost fell off my chair. I restrained myself, however, and kept quiet.

"Don't be silly," said the other one. "Picasso was from Europe!"

"Oh, yeah. That's right. Sorry."

The world righted itself again. I don't know what I'd do if my students started showing signs of actually knowing anything. Half my activities would become boring, because I wouldn't be able to laugh at them any more.


Alex Case said...

Maybe the only solution is to hope there is an odd number of students and pair him up with yourself???

TEFLtastic blog-

jacl said...

And here I thought that teachers should be proud that their students actually learned something. But you are right, that was funny!

What to do about that one student? That's a hard question. What do you know about him? Is he bored? Is the class too simple? Too difficult? Is he having other problems? Does he understand the topics in class? What are his interests? His life experiences? Maybe set up 4 teams of 3 to compete on presenting a topic and have him lead one group? Maybe invite English speaking children from a nearby school and have an activity where they can play together and practice speaking English or something?

Cheryl said...

He sounds quite autistic - very narrow focus, no social skills, precious little social awareness?

If he sees the others as tiresome he might welcome the idea of dealing only with you - especially if it is dressed up as stopping the others from annoying him, instead of the other way round?

Hebron said...

Huh. Picasso is from spain. What do ya know.

I think you should get them to do skits. Or something. That should be worth a laugh :D

Keera Ann Fox said...

If this keeps up, the US will lose it's top spot as the most geographically challenged nation. But it will be a while yet, I imagine. A fellow expat here in Norway recently told me Norway wasn't a European nation, which I took as a joke. She surprised me by later stating she'd looked it up and apparently Norway really is in Europe.

FTR, Picasso is not from Norway. ;-)

Lia said...

Is Europe a country?

Badaunt said...

Alex: Then he'd suck the energy out of ME! (And the other students would goof off.)

Jacl: Most of your suggestions would work in classes that meet more than once a week. And I don't think there are any English speaking children in the area. And projects generally don't work - students forget them between classes. (They forget EVERYTHING between classes. They have too many classes - anything from fifteen to twenty different courses a week.)

I might try a little change in seating arrangement, though. In that class I've had students sitting side by side and turning towards each other to speak. He doesn't turn. Maybe seating them face to face will force him to be a little more friendly.

Cheryl: It's possible. Nobody tells me anything. (I got to hear about last semester's autistic guy officially only after there was an 'incident' in the library.) I will engage him personally as much as possible, but I can't neglect the rest of the class.

Hebron: I do that sometimes. Not sure if I'll try it with that class yet, though.

Keera: I have come to suspect that when they do those sorts of surveys they cherry pick the students here, or prime them with the answers. My students' geography is awful, and I thought mine was bad.

Lia: Will check that out tomorrow - I'm off to bed now. But my students frequently think Europe is a country. (They frequently think New York is a country, too.)