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stuck in a rut 
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 6:49 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Japan
Post stuck in a rut
I teach English in Korea. At an academy. I have been at the same academy for almost 2 years. That means most of my students I have known for almost 2 years. I hope any other teacher at an academy understands what my dilemma is, but I will explain it anyways. When I started teaching, I hadn't made the connection between my students interest in me, and me being a novelty. I honestly thought for about 6 months that my students honestly loved me. Then what I call "the blunting" started to set in. My students started showing less and less interest and more and more hostility towards me. I'm talking students that were angels previously. It really shook me up, and so I started analyzing my teaching style, and my preparation style and myself as a person. I went through a pretty deep depression. I contemplated just washing my hands of the whole teaching world. I started to resent my students. I began to hate my current state and wanted to escape from it. I would be in my classroom with my lesson, back-up lesson and gallons of energy, and then my students would make the "oh this guy again" round of sighs and complaints and all that energy would pour out of my body like i was a bucket with a huge whole on the bottom. then as a last resort I decided to do something drastic. I decided to stop caring so much about whether my students were learning or not. I decided to just go into class and have fun because I wanted to have fun, and whoever wanted to come along and join me were welcome, but whoever didn't would be left behind. I KNOW THIS ISN'T RIGHT. I know i should involve every single student and i should make sure all are learning, but i realized that the more I cared and tried to make everyone happy, the more frustrated and disappointed I got. Has anybody been in my shoes? and if so did you do the same thing as me? if not, how did you deal with it? currently, things are better. I am happier and my classes are better, but am still relying on the "i don't care" mentality a little too much. I keeps me from getting stressed, but I also feel like there could be something else I could do. Just don't know what. A little side note, I know having a routine for my students would save me a lot of stress and less confusion for them, but routine drive me crazy. If i ever feel like my class is falling into a routine I instinctively try to shake things up. this can get very confusing for my kids because sometimes I shake it up too much. I don't know. I KNOW I love teaching, but I just don't know where my place is as a teacher. I still am very confused with what I should do, and honestly I am not expecting much to come out of this post. I'll probably just get a lot of thoughtful elaborations to the tune of "keep trying" "hang in there" "don't give up", and I thank you for them. but I guess I'll post it just in case one of those "hang in there"s strikes me in a way I couldn't have predicted. P.S. I thought just changing jobs with new faces and new everything would do the trick so I worked PT at another location, but to my dismay, I had the same problem, which just confirmed to me that the problem lies with me, hence the depression.

Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:44 pm
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Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:03 am
Posts: 71
Location: Athens, Greece
First of all I think that a teacher cannot blend with all students. It's a matter of chemistry. Some classes love you and others don't. At the end of the day teachers are human beings too. There is only so much one can do.
Even though love should be involved in the process of teaching I think that the job of the teacher is not to make oneself loved but to get students to learn. And students learn when they are driven hard, they need to be given tasks to do, homework. There should be fun in the classroom but basically they should be challenged to think, learn, create. Then they feel that they improve and they respect their teacher.
I used to have similar problems. I used to be so concentrated on making learning fun that students didn't perceive my lessons as learning sessions but as play time and started behaving accordingly. Learning happened but they were not aware of it and ascribed it to other sources outside my classroom.
So basically there should be some learning routine spiced up with fun and not the other way round.
Anyway teachers who care find their way in time and you seem to be one of them. So keep up the good work.

Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:21 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
I've had classes that seemed to hit a stale point. The class isn't really progressing because we're spending a lot of time reviewing and practicing. Or maybe what we're learning is more foundation as opposed to something functional. I agree with Manuela that sometimes students can feel like they're spinning their wheels if what they learn isn't tangible for them. In that case, I start the students on a log. In the log, they write down what they learned that day. You can even add a place for them to write where or how they might use that bit of language. That leaves a clear message for them that something was accomplished (or should have been.)

You can take that further and make learning a more proactive activity and have them include what they would like to learn in the next few classes. That also creates something to look forward to. If you have them hand those in, they also may feel as though they have some say in their education and progress.

You can also make them earn the fun activities. Take the best or most interesting activities and make them a prize for homework completion. It could be a reward for participation in other activities or good results on a vocabulary quiz. Students sometimes need a challenge to drive them. Also, fun in the classroom is a luxury. Ultimately they are there to learn and study. They are not their to be entertained and with today's kids that's a very important lesson for them to learn.

On another note, I do have some classes that seem to drain me as well. However, I've also decided to not care as well, but in a different light. I decided to not care whether the students are energized. I keep the same positive attitude and the same energy regardless of my surroundings. It's hard to do, but really helped me.

Learning is cool. Enjoy what we can accomplish in 60-90 min. It's really amazing.

My last bit of advice is not to take this too seriously. We're not saving lives here :D While their future and success in school is important and in many ways beneficial to their lives, there are other things that might be just as important or more important in the moment.

and finally ... "keep trying!" "hang in there!" "don't give up!" :lol:

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:06 am
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Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 7:52 pm
Posts: 6
kids have no idea what they want anyway, kids in middle and high school just follow the cool kids in thier group and what they say stands for a while amongst the moral of that grade/school. just keep in mind how much you hated school sometimes as a teen, even if the teacher was cool or not. Maybe a cool kid of that particular grade has a lot of clout and his/her english level isnt great, or they have no english speaking friends, (the bad guy on the latest sitcom was a foreigner) etc.. So maybe one day outside of class the cool kid was badmouthing you or english speakers in general therefore resulting the feeling amongst the student is that whoever tries hardest in "motivated teacher" engrish class isnt the cool thing anymore. It could be any number of reasons, im just giving a few examples (leading to a mess of run-on sentences :oops:

But the reason why us seasoned folk always go back to "dont give up" "try hard" etc. is bc we also know what transpires AFTER the hazing, thats when you get to the good stuff abt being a techer (I have had students parents offer me jobs, yacht rides, etc..)

anyway, we all go thru this at some point or another, enjoy the deconstruction, this is part of the process.


Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:06 pm

Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:36 pm
Posts: 386
Location: Tohoku Japan
Post Re: stuck in a rut
I totally agree that you should try to have fun in the classroom (within reason), its sort of hard to put into words

It depends on the amount of students, but I don't think it reasonable to expect to get all the students on fire with English. For one reason some kids will be better than others, have more of an interest in you and English than others, just like any other subject. (some kids are good at math some aren't)
Thats not your fault. We are human, we won't "click" with all the students all the time, and we all have off days, as well as the students have off days. I have done the same lesson in the same way to different classes (same age group) and got very different results!

And its natural that when you were new to them, you were an unknown, you were fresh/new to them and over time that will change

just as an idea, ... try doing a few personal things in class. Tell them something about yourself, or your family/country (according to their level and the days topic/theme.
Sort of get out of the textbook and into real living English with a real personal touch, something they can relate to. This might not work with all the kids but it will be fresh and real English, they may appreciate you being open (don't say too much about yourself, even just makeup stuff?)
I try to joke with them from time to time and I think they appreciate it, but all said and done, only you know your students, I don't.
I really can't say what will work, just hang in there

Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:03 pm

Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:22 am
Posts: 15
Post Re: stuck in a rut
I teach on a 1-1 basis so its very different but I find it difficult with my teenage boys somtimes as they are trying to be cool and they don`t always engage with me. Can you get the class to take turns to bring in something or share something of their own, a bit like a show and tell box for little kids but on a more grown up scale. You could ask them to bring in their favourite item of clothing, food, cd, photo etc and talk about it and answer questions from the class. Or just play something like Simon Says and get them doing stupid stuff in the classroom to lighten the mood. Hope that helps!

Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:00 am
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