Today was the first day back after Chinese New Year Vacation. It was the first day of school in the Year of the Snake. SSSSSSsssssssssssSSS!!! The ssssssssspring ssssemesssssster hasssss begun! (Like that alliterative snake-hiss effect? Wait, I just removed the impact by asking you that, didn’t I. Crap.)
I immediately discovered that there can no such thing as fun first day back with my students. I started off (out of necessity of course) with an iron fist, lecturing them about the wrongs they committed last semester and how they SHALL NOT commit them again. “It’s a new year, a new semester, children! You will speak MORE English and be NICER people! Be BETTER than you were last year!”
The timeout chair was initiated and re-introduced almost right away. I had a student erase pictures of yucky things he was drawing (butts, boobs, butts and boobs pooping) and sent him into time out. He was quite taken back, but the punishment was clear and will be EVER SO SEVERE should I catch him at it again.
I had my level 1 students draw in the margins on every page of their notebooks since these notebooks I am forced to use don’t have any! They’re terrible and do nothing for teaching my students how to write properly, so I decided to have them all do the margins in advance. One student, with fifteen minutes left of class, declared to me that she didn’t want to and will continue the work on Wednesday. I told her that if she doesn’t draw margins for the next fifteen minutes, she won’t be leaving the classroom until 4:15.
Another student suddenly and aggressively kicked the back of another student’s chair. He was immediately sent to the timeout chair and was not released until after I knew his violent and haughty spirit was broken. He was in timeout for about 30 minutes. He finally made the pathetic plea to be able to return to the classroom. I made him wait after his plea and then had a civil conversation with him about his behavior and how he SHALL NEVER KICK ANOTHER STUDENT AGAIN.
I had to lecture all my students about how they SHALL NOT TEAR PAGES OUT OF THEIR NOTEBOOKS. Should they do this, that page will be thrown into the recycle and they must re-write all the work again in their notebook.
I did bring some innovative education into the classroom today. I told my students a bit about my travels over the break, teaching them about relevant things that they themselves might run into one day (many of my students travel with their families around Asia and Europe and North America), such as passports and visas and public transportion in other cities and currency exchange rates. This was fun, because I brought these in for them to look at: my passport, Indonesia visa, Hong Kong money and Indonesian money, bus tickets, my octopus card from Hong Kong. They rather enjoyed the hands-on experience.
Of course, it was an exchange, so I got to hear some of all my students’ vacations as well. One girl brought in dried mangos from Cebu for the whole class. She was very excited about the opportunity she had to speak English in the Philippines. I was proud of her. I told her that her English really had improved. It was true.
Gotta love the first day of a new semester. Nineteen more weeks until summer vacation…