Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Actions Do Speak Louder

And so another day ends in the never ending adventures of Teacher Roy.  This morning, having recovered from my cold of the weekend, I went to class prepared to give them a great experience.  I was going to teach them Yellow Submarine and then move on to Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  My bag was filled with story props and my backpack with my computer and notebooks.  And then it happened.  I went to my first class.

My first class started out noisy and never stopped.  My microphone kept dying whenever I said two words, so I tried talking loudly.  I walked around the room to remind them that teacher was working and talking but students turned their back on me to talk to their friends.  This went on for about ten minutes when I felt my temper beginning to rise.  I told them several times to be quiet and to let me talk to no avail.

I come from a family of yellers, screamers and cursers and I have have my moments of acting in such a way.  Today, though, I decided to take a deep breath, step to the front of the room, cross my hands in front of me and say nothing.  The front row saw me and hushed, and then the next and the next.  My heart was racing and I could feel the sweat dripping down my back.  Finally only the back row of boys were talking until their classmates told them to shut up.  I stood for another minute and spoke.

"Today you have hurt my feelings.  I spend a lot of time preparing for your lessons and you have not given me a chance to teach you.  Today I am not going to teach anything as you are unwilling to listen."  They looked at me in silent horror and I remained silent.  I then packed up my things and stood in the corner of the  room near the door.  I asked them how many of them wanted to learn English and most of them raised their hands.  I said I was there to teach them but as they were being so rude, they were going to have to wait another week.  We sat together for a few more minutes and then I left.

A couple of the boys insisted on helping me with my bag and guitar I had brought for the class and I let them.  My next class was only two doors down.  I had another 20 minutes until my next class.  Two more boys came to apologize while other classmates stuck their heads out the door.  I spoke to them calmly and civilly and stayed where I was.

When the next class came open, boys rushed out to help me with my bags again and we went on.  That class went on splendidly but my mind was still on the earlier class.  Fortunately, I was able to sing my song and tell my story, but lacking energy, I did both quickly and then played videos for the rest of the class.  They seemed to not mind.

The rest of the day went well though I did manage to accidentally use a permanent marker in my third class and several boys rushed out to get alcohol to wash the wall.

Perhaps I should have stayed in the class and continued to teach.  However I didn't see that I was going to be successful and perhaps this was a lesson for them.  I heard later that they told my fellow teacher who had the class after me that they had hurt Teacher Roy's feelings.  She said she gave them a lecture about manners and went on with her class.

My last two classes were my more advanced classes and I was teaching them about proverbs like a stitch in time or, my favorite of the day, actions speak louder than words.  In both classes I wrote the proverb on the wall and then stood silently in front.  Both times the classes became quiet.  I then explained the proverb.  I think they got it.


  1. A footnote to this post. Yesterday left me feeling terrible through the evening and this morning. Then, during morning break, one of the boys from that class came to bring me outside. There, I found my entire class standing to apologize to me. I couldn't say much more than thank you and then had to rub my eyes.

  2. It was an honest exercise and they understood.