Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DJ's Take Control

I like teaching. For the most part. I have one class that's been a real challenge. All of my classes have their share of class clowns but, for the most part, I'm in on the joke. I think their antics are hilarious and as long as it doesn't derail the class, I love it. But that one class, oh man. There are two kids who sit in the back and run things. I'm not in on the joke—I'm the butt of the joke. And for 6 weeks I've been putting up with it because I didn't really know what to do was intimidated.

Standing in that class, my high school days came rushing back to me. Suddenly there I was, powerless to stop some cool kid from stepping on my shoes or making fun of me in the halls. All I could do was smile like a chump and hope he went away. And that's what I was doing in this class, and as long as I kept it up they would never respect me.

So today I decided it was time to take control.

All morning, I started chanting "I'm the boss" in my head. Pretty soon it had a backing beat, a steady house kick and Chicago acid house bass line. The voice dropped an octave and started to sound pretty scary. There was no way these punks could mess with a song like this.

It's the same tactic I would take when DJing and I was losing the crowd. Did I flounder around, worried that I was losing control and hope they would come back to me? Sometimes. But usually I would grow a pair, throw on a kick-ass record and command the crowd to come back.

Here's how I did it with my class:

The first thing I did was make everyone stand up. Now they were awake. I made them say what their favorite song was and wouldn't let them sit until they had said it. Power was thus transferred back to me.

Next, I made sure my Korean co-teacher was very involved. My first-grade high school classes are organized by ability. This class isn't the lowest but they act like it, and I'm pretty sure the other teachers treat them like it too. So I made sure my co-teacher did a lot of translating. The kids stayed more interested. I mean, it makes sense. You'd get bored and start goofing off too after 10 minutes of not understanding what was being said. The teacher seemed to like being involved too.

Third, I tried to make the lesson interesting. The topic was idioms in pop music, so I showed a few music videos, including a Korean one (Wonder Girls' "Nobody") and one that has been turned into a Korean song and is currently a huge hit (B.o.B's "Nothin' On You"). I had a game in the middle of the lesson and a few group activities. They stayed active and focused and then the class was over.

I don't know if I have their respect yet but I certainly have my self-respect back. And if they step out of line again I won't be afraid to discipline them. First, those two clowns are getting separated. Next, they have to stand in the hall. And if that doesn't work, well, there are Korean teachers ready to discipline them who are a hell of a lot meaner than I am.


  1. i actually did a music lesson this week, too, and i DJ-ed it (i played music while they worked). at one point, they got really loud (but only because they were excited about the activity), and i just blared the music to get their attention. i used to hate teachers who get their students' attention in such crude ways, but i couldn't have gotten it otherwise. and i totally hear you on feeling hurt when students don't listen to you. my students hurt me everyday, but it's the good ones who keep me going.

  2. somebody call the waaaambulance

  3. I'm sorry, Anonymous, but who are you to crap on my site like that?

  4. Can you make them put their hands up over their heads? Very effective Korean kid torture.