Do you ever think that, or even say it? Maybe some of your fellow teachers say that. I said it a lot.
Some classes suck. The students get on your nerves. Nothing ever goes right. They don’t care about learning. You don’t want to teach them anymore.
What do you do when you get into a situation like this? And trust me, if you’re teaching multiple classes, it will happen at some point.
The easiest thing to do is to give up. I’ve done this many times. You can watch movies all the time, play games non-stop, and just focus on the three or four students that are ‘good.’
It’s much harder to give a damn.
If you want to give a damn you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. This is usually a bummer, because you’re not getting paid that much and the students have already shown they ‘don’t care’. Really, what incentive is there at all to do anything anymore?
For now, let’s look at three simple steps you can take to turn that terrible class around.
Maybe you had a rules sheet at the beginning of the year, or used to dole out punishments. Somewhere along the way it went by the wayside and now the students are walking all over you. It’s time to begin punishing again, and the best way to do that is to write lines.
Have every student’s name on the board, and if one says something bad, fools around, gets out of their seat…whatever…you put a check by their name and at the end of the class they write 10 lines. Yes, on their time and yours – that’s how things start to turn around.
For the really good students, give some rewards. Maybe it’s a sticker for younger students, the cool kind that cost $1.99 at the store. Perhaps it’s the answers to Section 3 of the ESL homework for that week. Or it could be more work, or more games at least, really, anything they like. The bad students see this and get mad and resentful and either change their behavior or feel that way all the time. Most times they change.
Tell your boss that your class sucks. I have to say, this is probably the least effective strategy, but do it anyways. Native speakers have a lot more power to influence student behavior, and they can make it more clear to students that you’re not happy.
I’ve seen some students get real chewings-out before. And if you do happen to flip out and yell some obscenities one day, at least they knew you were ready to blow. Mainly, however, it’s about communication and ensuring everyone involved in your teaching knows that you’re doing alright. When that happens, students can do alright.
I hope some of those ideas help you. If you want more helpful ESL ideas, check out my book Keeping Sane. Thanks!