So one of my periods has been really trying me. Flicking through the substitute reports from the weeks before my arrival, I saw that this group of kids has been putting everybody who walks in the door through the wringer. The class is composed of three main groups: four or five soccer kids, who lounge in the back and laugh and talk to each other; a handful of girls who are the definition of indolence and sly defiance, and then a knot in the corner of three girls who love torment this one guy who in turn loves to be tormented so he can complain and thrash about in his chair and not work.
So. They’ve been rough. Especially because their lunch falls right in the middle of class; 25 minutes in I dismiss them for half an hour, and then have them for another 20 minute period, fresh from the playground and hopped up on sugar. My attempts to make them be quiet have quickly turned to calling their parents; seperating them only makes them talk across the classroom to each other. The indolent girls refuse to work and make cutting remarks at each other, and everywhere the ceremony of innocense is drowned. Frustration is rampant! Finally I cracked down on them like a silver back gorilla falling fifteen stories onto a homeless man’s pushcart, and made them all work in complete silence. If anybody talked, detention.
Two of them got detention before they realized I was serious.
But man, what a boring way to teach. Scratching my head, wandering how to get through to them, I began class today. We read a small passage on caves and spelunking, and I decided to tell them a short story about when I got trapped at the end of a worm hole in Brazil, some fifty feet below ground and with my buddy passed out and blocking my exit behind me (a true story, actually). This accomplished two things. One, it got their attention. Two, it revealed that I was Brazilian. And suddenly, I was in.
For some reason, being Brazilian makes me cool. I transcend the boring title of ‘teacher’, and am suddenly treated with reverence and decorum. They ask me what the girls are like over there. If I’m good at soccer. But mostly they just stare at me and gape. Throw in the fact that I have a mild British accent, and lived in England? Game, set, and match. All the soccer kids in the back instantly warmed up to me. The indolent girls, spread out as they were across the class, and lacking the disruptive support of the soccer kids, lapsed into sullen silence. And I put the class phone in plain sight of the tormented kid in the corner, and he clammed right up.
The result? Teaching! Yeah yeah yeah, buddy baby boy, yeah yeah yeah! Simply by virtue of my blood, I have conquered (may these words not be premature) the resistance that this class was mounting. Now that’s what I call talent.