Friday, March 23, 2012

For every person who wants to teach...

For every person who wants to teach
 there are approximately thirty people 
who don't want to learn much. 
~ W. C. Stellar

In an attempt to keep thoughts of work from taking over this blog, work is not often the topic.... but it's probably time for a little update.

Schedule this semester? Fantastic. Classes this week? Eh. After several semesters of working with more or less the same students, change struck. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it's good for students to learn from other instructors: their methods- or lack of, different accents, etc, and it's good for a teacher to see fresh faces. That said, I miss them! Now there is a whole new group of personalities to get used to (almost identical names though, haha).

My students are not always Ukrainians. It's probably not surprising since Kharkov is a city of international students. My favorite (foreign) students are those from the middle east. They tend to be extremely polite and good natured. This semester I've even got students from middle-eastern countries I can hardly find on the map. Hopefully they'll be as easy-going as the Iraqi and Jordanian students. And also this semester... a couple of students from my not favorite country. Which I'll keep secret for now. But my absolute least favorite country? The country of sullen adolescent boys. Unfortunately several of them somehow immigrated to my classes. There's no way to please them, because apparently nothing can be as cool as sitting there with a pained look on your face. Like a little mushroom. I would just love. to. deport. them. back to wherever they came from.

Only once in my teaching career have I ever had to give an ultimatum to a class (to the gremlins of chaos, I mean, a classroom of 7-year-olds in Yakutsk). Today, though, I almost went there again. Or maybe actually did. Why do people come to class if they don't want to be there? What happened to the good old days of skipping class?

The only thing to do? Come home and read the newly-Kindled Prisoner of Wonderland. If you want a horror story.... here's someone who had fairly realistic TEFL expectations and lots of promises from the school but lived through a nightmare. If you want to teach English abroad, this + some English Teacher X = as forewarned as you will ever be. Hope for the best and expect the worst, all that good stuff. Another entertaining read is Yes China! An English Teacher's Love-Hate Relationship with a Foreign Country. I haven't finished it yet but stories about classrooms of hyperactive grabby children always makes me glad to teach adults. It's safe to say that most of them don't bite :p


  1. I share you feelings Katya, although I do not teach English. My students can sometimes be argumentative and in those moments I feel like I have to be the spokesperson for the company. I've only had a few incidents, and when someone is very new to the company I give my little speech that every day when they come to work they are interviewing for the job, or the job they want to get in their lifetime with the company. The hard ones are the employees who have been there forever, are old enough to be my parent and in their dissatisfaction they are unwilling to accept change of any sort and all of my words and desire to teach them and share information feel wasted.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Vesna. That's a great thing to remember- "every day when they come to work they are interviewing for the job, or the job they want to get in their lifetime with the company." It's easy to forget that in the daily grind.