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  • Janitor
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 962

    • June 14, 2010, 02:01:32 pm
    • Ulsan
What to do when you lose a class
« on: November 02, 2010, 01:28:12 pm »
OK so I just had a rough class. The class was lost from the beginning meaning that it was a Ss vs Teacher type scene. It started with the crew of black northface jacket wearing zombie girls who were supposed to sit in their student numbers but lied to me when I told them to move. My co-teacher was late and then made the girls sit in their proper seats thus taking more time away from the class.

The material was dry and there were many problems with motivation. I was struggling to pull any material out of them or even get them to write in their books. Thus, I took advice (so of it my own on here) and tried to play an interesting game with the material. It was one of the awesome Rufus made PPT's and normally the students (in other classes) enjoy these games but I kid you not, 10 girls put their heads down and started sleeping before I even started the game!

I immediately switched back to the text and made it clear that I was only doing it because of the northface zombies (the girls) and that had they paid attention we could have played a game. So then the boys were annoyed and the girls were tuned out.

So how do you get back after losing a class like that? Is there away of "winning them over" or do I just have to keep trudging along. Keep in mind that this is a class that does not care about this class and neither does my co-teacher who just sits at the back of the class and works on her computer. Normally, I try to give them rewards for their efforts like monopoly money for chocolate but even then, they don't care or they will take money from other students to get one "abc chocolate" to share amongst 4 students.

Furthermore, any video is seen as sleeping or Korean speaking time. So by offering them time to watch a video means they only want to watch something that will take up time and they don't have to do anything. This was a class that heard I was showing the simpsons halloween special and didn't even bring their books to class. One student even brought a Korean comic book!!

Any ideas on how to motivate them?

  • juliann
  • Adventurer

    • 43

    • September 08, 2010, 02:07:05 pm
    • Gwangju, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2010, 01:32:49 pm »
Unfortunately I have no advice, just lots and lots of empathy! :(
It sucks... Hang in there!

  • timmahh
  • Waygookin

    • 22

    • October 15, 2010, 12:59:55 pm
    • South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2010, 01:41:21 pm »
heres what happens to some of the troublemakers in my 6th grade classes. send the troublemakers to the back of the room. have them stand with their hands on their head. have them face the wall if they are still distracting other students. then do something interesting with the rest of the class. make sure the students in the back are well spaced out and dont talk.


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

    • 6141

    • October 08, 2010, 01:02:32 pm
    • Zhubei, Hsinchu County, Taiwan (not part of China)
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2010, 01:49:08 pm »
Wow, it is a tough one and I guess sometimes you are going to lose a class especially because it is not an 'exam' subject and some students made up their minds years ago that they won't learn English.

So, just keep plugging away, under the really trying circumstances and who knows you might just win over one or two souls with your enthusiasm.

If I have any brainwaves I will let you know.  If you do win over 1 or 2 over the 'super cool' group you might just make headway, but sometimes you have to just cut your losses.  Good luck.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!

  • AC_in_Korea
  • Super Waygook

    • 263

    • July 30, 2010, 11:25:33 am
    • Miryang, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2010, 02:01:22 pm »
I am not sure it is advice - but I can tell you what I have done in the past with situations similar to this:

I stop the class all together, and just talk to the students, like real people.  I tell them that I understand that they may be bored, and that I know English can be difficult.  Then I also tell them that I know they are smart, and that they can do it.  I explain that I want to play games with them, and I want to have fun, but if they don't help me, then I can't do that.

I hope that after saying that - they brighten up some, but it has happened that a class or two still didn't care, which makes things hard.

I hope that we are able to give you support, if not advice.....
Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • RufusW
  • Veteran

    • 166

    • June 15, 2010, 08:49:22 am
    • Busan
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2010, 02:18:08 pm »
Let them sleep!  Hopefully the rest of the class will find the game/lesson interesting and they'll eventually prefer doing that rather than sitting there (obviously don't let them talk).

It is a teacher's job to create motivation, but with students of that age often you can only help them as much as they help you.
50+ Powerpoint templates on Waygook - here
Link your school and home computers for free with Dropbox - here

  • jehall
  • Veteran

    • 213

    • April 08, 2010, 01:20:16 pm
    • Uijeongbu, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2010, 02:25:39 pm »
When it comes to the point that you realize you're devoting more time to the students who don't want to learn than to the ones who always participate, it's time to let them go. If they want to sleep, let them.

At a younger age, you can win them over, but when once they reach a certain age, and they've decided they don't want to learn English, there's nothing you can really do without taking away deserving attention from other students.

It sounds like you've already tried all the approved methods, but to little avail. Not the answer you were hoping for, but that's how it is sometimes.

  • Janitor
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 962

    • June 14, 2010, 02:01:32 pm
    • Ulsan
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2010, 02:30:10 pm »
I think you guys are right. There are 37 students in my class. less than half were to blame, I should focus my efforts on the majority who were doing their work and wanted to do something.

  • alexrathy
  • Adventurer

    • 41

    • August 28, 2009, 01:39:22 pm
    • Suncheon
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2010, 03:31:00 pm »
if kids are sleeping and tuning you out one strategy is becoming unpredictable...sim ple example is to start walking around the classroom and circulating around the kids while they sleep. Kids get used to your routine and if you stand in front of the classroom all the time they are going to catch on to that and learn toknow what to get away just walk up and down the rows...circulate in between power point slides and grill kids for answers if they are not paying are the teacher and in charge.

  • KiddieCAT
  • Veteran

    • 83

    • October 02, 2010, 11:38:27 pm
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2010, 03:36:49 pm »
I know it may sound absurd (and I highly lack enough experience to be termed 'vetern') but have you tried actual movement? It's radical, but the zombie girls are unlikely to sleep if they're moving/standing.  I agree with the others that once a student has given up on English, there's little to sway them otherwise, and bear in mind that I teach elementry, but I was at an adult hagwon last year and made my uni students do this once: I made them stand for a game, and do mingling exercises. I'm sure zombie girls don't want to do it, but what if one day you walked in and just said: ok everyone stand up! Today we're going to do a survey" or "get UP zombie girls, you're going to do some acting/role play..." I know Korean culture doesn't have them doing this kind of stuff in their regular classes, but you're the English teacher gosh darn it, and your culture says 'I got to move it, move it!'

Remember you've got nothing to lose at this point with those students anyway, and changing it up could be annoying enough that they girls won't fall asleep anymore. Tho they may glare...or drool..

Good luck solider!

  • sbbaas
  • Adventurer

    • 44

    • April 01, 2010, 06:02:18 pm
    • SK
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2010, 03:38:25 pm »
Before I begin my classes that give me problems, I write on the board, "Minutes Late." Every time I see a student off task (reading a book, speaking Korean, not participating, etc.) I put a tally. The tallies represent the number of minutes we will stay after with heads down and silence. If students talk during this time, I add more minutes. It has worked well and students get upset with the ones that are the cause for each tally.

  • dchrzano
  • Veteran

    • 163

    • September 12, 2010, 06:41:39 pm
    • Seoul
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2010, 03:44:29 pm »
You can also try:

- Speaking to their homeroom teacher about punishments and motivation, they are more equipped with how to deal with the class.
- Keeping them after class for every minute they donít pay attention.
- Having fun activities prepared but only do them if the students deserve it, if not then instead do quiet activities that they may not like such as writing etc. Tell them they have a choice and it depends on their behavior.

Also learning their names also helps, I have a list of who sits in what desk so I can call out specific students with their behavior problems.
I also call out the good students such as "Look at SooJin, she is so prepared and participating really well, I like how well she is pronouncing the words, 1 Candy for you." This always perks up the students ears because they wonder why SooJin got candy and why they did not. You can also ask them why she got a candy, their response should reiterate that she is being a good student.

Make sure that they know/ are aware that you are disappointed in their behavior.
Speak to them about this, tell them that by being good students they will receive rewards and bad students will be punished.

You can also mention if their bad behavior persists that their parents will be contacted. This always scares them.

I've also started a Student of the Month Program where I give one student from each class this certificate and a small prize (this month it's a G20 KPop CD's and Glow Sticks).
I've attached my PPT from the Student of the Month Program.

Hope that helps, if not I also have some articles about motivational tools.
Each day is different though sometimes my good classes turn into my bad ones so you win some and you lose some as long as you don't feel like giving up and feel that they at least got 1 thing out of your class that's all that matters.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 07:55:28 pm by dchrzano »

  • jh64487
  • Adventurer

    • 58

    • September 16, 2010, 01:40:27 pm
    • Seoul
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2010, 03:53:11 pm »
A kid gives me attitude or won't be quiet they get a warning. 3 warnings they go to the vice principal.  I also chat with them about why they've gone to the Veep, what i'd like them to do, and what will happen if they continue to misbehave.  I've straightened out some tough kids like this (apparently I live in the worst part of seoul to teach english, according to my district rep.  smoking, fighting, the works).  Sleeping isn't something I worry about too much.  The kids who are going to sleep are either so far behind or so far ahead that my lessons aren't very useful and that's just a reality of this job. 

And then sometimes you just get a bad class.  The stars align in a bad way for it. I don't think calling students out will help, it'll just put them constantly on the defensive.  I would suggest keeping those girls after class and chatting with them.  You probably won't get a satisfactory reason for why they are misbehaving but if you explain why their behavior is rude from a western perspective they should understand (unless they really are evil).  Also, don't call them zombie girls (if you are, i mean) unless it's in fun.  don't call any students names unless it's in mutual jest.  That's a bad tone.

For the love of god get your co-teacher interacting with you!   I can't imagine what i would do if my co-teachers sat at the back of the class.

  • klorptar
  • Veteran

    • 134

    • September 15, 2010, 08:35:45 am
    • Ulsan, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2010, 04:35:24 pm »
I asked my co-teachers to allow me to make 2 questions for each exam, which works pretty well. The students usually bring their notebooks and textbooks to take notes, and generally they're not too noisy. I work at an all-girls middle school, so they're not too crazy. When they do get out of control, I tend to have them hold Harry Potter books over their heads. If they continue, I just send them outside. I don't like to keep stopping to discipline students, nor should I have to. My co-teachers seem to view the class as time to catch up on their reading, and I don't want to have to waste the 45 minutes a week I get to teach each class.

  • kerrym
  • Veteran

    • 164

    • March 18, 2010, 09:52:47 pm
    • Ulsan, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2010, 05:16:34 pm »
No one can really give you the right answer to the unique situation that is yours. Each of us deals with such a variety of ages, co-teachers, attitudes, etc., that we can't really relate to what you had to go through with enough specificity to offer the perfect solution. My only words are those of encouragement. Your motives were sincere and from what I've seen of your postings here on, you seem to be a dedicated, caring teacher who prepares and plans, and who tries sincerely to implement those plans. Honestly, that's all any teacher can do. Don't take it personally and don't beat yourself up.

When I was doing theatre, I would anguish over why one audience didn't respond one night with the same applause, energy and enthusiasm, to a performance that was wonderfully received the night before. I realized that all I could do was give my best performance. It sounds like you were giving your students your best performance and you just had a bad audience. Don't get discouraged. The show will close and that next crowd will think you are a star. Hang in there.

  • Olga
  • Veteran

    • 125

    • October 04, 2010, 12:21:08 pm
    • south korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2010, 05:50:55 pm »
my dearest, im completely and utterly new at teaching in korea, but not teaching in general.  i have been in your situation recently, and ive taught in different parts of the world and NOTHING compares to the lack of discipline that ive seen here (and i have taught in some remote ass places in africa and latin america)...

the thing is, there will always, ALWAYS be at least ONE student that DOES care.  there will always be many that dont.  focus your passion and your strength on that ONE and hopefully, others will follow. 

at the end of the day, its over.  in the past, put behind you.  just know you ARENT alone and that you ARE doing your job well.

  • Janitor
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 962

    • June 14, 2010, 02:01:32 pm
    • Ulsan
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2010, 09:36:04 pm »
Thanks everyone! I think that for the most part, it was just a bad class. I have created a classroom where I am always on the move, it works better that way because I can see what they are up to. I also use a bit of movement in each of my classes to get them to calm down and also get active. From clapping their hands to standing to speak and playing games. However, I think there are a few problems that need to be worked out.

The biggest challenge is my co-teacher. She really needs to get involved with the class but she is a trouble make at the school anyway. She is the Englsih Boo-jang-nim (department manager) thus excludes herself from participating in classes or even role-playing to demonstrate a lesson. The last time I asked her about it she brought me back the dvds for the textbooks and recommended I play those instead of the role playing and whatnot.

I think that I am going to try a different seating plan and see if I can't break up the clump of northface jackets. Then try some different games and material. This should break them out of the zombification and get them speaking or at least doing something. Thanks again for all the advice.

  • fishead
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1153

    • April 23, 2010, 07:58:05 am
    • Yangju Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2010, 03:05:13 pm »
 Put on a video. This might sound lazy but I still think it's the best option. For one thing the material might either be too difficult, too boring, or possibly both. Also bear in mind that often when you find yourself losing a class there are external forces at work that you have no power over. Exams are finished students are distracted.  Putting on a video also allows for the class to end on a good note.

  • Joscelyn2
  • Adventurer

    • 57

    • October 29, 2010, 10:35:24 am
    • Pohang, South Korea
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2010, 09:49:52 am »
This is an interesting topic, one that I fight with often. In my western culture view, I find myself in the 'no chile left behind' sort of view. I often will struggle with students who don't want to learn, they just sit there and pretend they didn't hear me or pretend they didn't understand even when it's a simple instruction that I know they understand.

My Korean co-teacher took me aside one day after I spent about 5 minutes trying to get a kid to repeat after me and he obstinately refused, and told me - don't worry about him. He does Judo in the morning. - I guess that means he's too tired to learn English. But the lesson to me was that this is not a 'no child left behind' system. This is a sink or swim system, and my job is not to educate all the students by dragging them along like stubborn mules, my job is to be a resource for those who are willing to participate. My job is to make the lessons as engaging and productive as possible, and then to let go of the idea that everyone is going to be a model student. 

Also, some classes go well and sometimes the same lesson is a dud for the next class. Just do your best.

You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it drink. You can put a Korean boy in middle school but you can't make him think.

  • Lupe Rod
  • Newgookin

    • 1

    • August 18, 2011, 10:01:03 am
    • So Cal
Re: What to do when you lose a class
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2011, 10:15:49 am »
I need a ruling:

Is it too cruel to do some bootcamp style punishments that play on their collectivist nature? (think the jelly doughnut scene in Full Metal Jacket, but minus the pushups) The idea I have is make the troublemaker publicly choose between doing wrong and screwing their friends over, or doing right by their friends by participating. Its one of those ideas that sounds good in theory, but can also have a major backlash.