Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I know I really need to up my blogging game. I reread a few of my early posts from the fall tonight, and realized that I have seriously fallen off the wagon! I vow to try to do better... As for right now, I have some good news!
You remember Henry, right? The one I prayed to get rid of, but ended up keeping when classes changed? The one who drives me crazy 3 days a week? Yeah, that one. Well, today was a small victory. Monday was particularly horrible, and I went to class today with some trepidation. It was a review day, with a test on Friday coming up. I spent 45 minutes in planning period creating a comprehensive review for them.

I reflected while making the review how little I think my kids appreciate how much work I put into them. A lot of material is prepared already for us, from former teachers, but some of my upper level classes, I reaaaalllly put a lot into them. I made a 5 page review covering ALL the vocabulary and grammar questions on the test, as well as the writing prompt and speaking topic. Like, I'm not sure it would be possible to make it more clear what they should study...

Anyway, I went to class once again reassuring myself that I could get through the next hour. I walked in and they tried to convince me that one student had snuck into the ceiling to escape (my partner teacher had told me the student was going to be absent earlier this week). I played along for a few minutes, then got down to business.

First, we took a vocabulary quiz. I gave them the words to study, and 5 minutes to study them. Henry sat next to me in class (we had the desks arranged in a circle), and during the quiz he asked me some questions, but mostly got the answers right for himself. I couldn't get him to be completely silent, but I did get him to refrain from saying answers out loud as he answered them. After a quiz (which I helped them all with), we did the review. I was pleasantly surprised that no one complained at the length of it.

I like the students to do their own review, so they are actually studying while completing it. After everyone is done, we usually check it together. I got them started, and Henry (sitting next to me), spied a lollypop in my basket. After asking me to give it to him, I had a stroke of mild genius. I told them that whoever completed the review with the FEWEST mistakes would win the lollypop.

Immediately Henry flipped back to the first page (he had been racing through it) and checked his answers, changing many of them. FINALLY I was getting him to make a real effort. All it took was a lollypop. Imagine that...

I tried not to help anyone too much, to be fair in the spirit of competition. But, with Henry sitting next to me, he did ask me a lot of questions. I let him talk to me, ask me things, and guided him to find the answers. I was amazed at him. He was still singing/humming/talking to himself, but he wasn't really interrupting anyone, and was actually TRYING.

As with most of my older students, the kids started to ask me things. They love to ask me personal questions. They asked me if I'd gone on a date, which I told them was none of their business. Henry asked me about apps on his phone (which I kept reminding him to put away), but I ended up talking to him about. He was surprised I knew KakaoTalk and KakaoStory, but I really floored him when I knew that GTAIII was Grand Theft Auto, and he proceeded to ask if I had played it. When I said no, but I knew boys who had played it, they got back to the boyfriend topic. Once we got out of those waters yet again, they started asking about guns and America and crime. A bit of an awkward topic to discuss with 5th graders...

Anyway, Henry finished his review first, and clocked in with 9 mistakes (out of around 40 questions). I told him which ones to correct, explained some grammar concepts to him, and I think he genuinely understood. Jasmine came in next with 4 mistakes, then John who is such a tortoise, won the lollypop with only 2 mistakes. I was very proud of them!

I explained the writing topic and speaking prompt, and I think everyone understood.

When the bell rang and they cleared out, I reflected on the class. I didn't have to raise my voice ONCE. It may have been a first... I'm sure it helped that it wasn't an actual LESSON, just a review where they worked individually. But, it was definitely a good class.

I am really trying to work at understanding Henry. He is not a bad kid, just a bad student. He is smart, but lazy. He acts out for attention, but recoils at rebuke. I've had many conversations with Jackie about him... we think that he is hyperactive but sensitive to being called out. And he has been lazy with practicing his English, so he is not as competent in communicating with me, like if he doesn't understand something. So instead of asking me, he asks the other students in Korean, which leads to me calling him out, him getting frustrated and continuing to speak Korean and the vicious cycle continues...

So today, with him sitting next to me, it helped that I could explain things to him individually. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, his buddy Eric wasn't there to joke around with. They feed off each other! It's so frustrating! Anyway, after we finished up the review I reminded them that if they get a class average above 89, we could have pizza. They left the room with that tantalizing motivation, and I am crossing my fingers that the test goes well on Friday.

I saw Jackie after class and told her about what a great day it was with Henry. She told me about a conversation she'd had with his mother on Monday (after a particularly bad day). She said that Henry thinks I don't like him because I call him out so often. Jackie said she explained that it is just very frustrating when I ask Henry to stop doing something or do something, and he doesn't do it. Or takes forever. But she also explained to Henry's mom that on good days, from the moment I walk into the teacher's room I am talking about Henry and how great he did, etc. So, I guess that proves that I don't hate him. I was very glad to hear that Jackie explained this and had my back.

And in fact, to be perfectly honest, when it doesn't have to do with school, I actually kind of like Henry! He's not a terrible kid. Just, verrrry frustrating to attempt to teach.

Anyway, I am going to try to be a better blogger and keep you guys in the loop more...

For now, it was a great day :)


  1. yay - great update, especially 'The Adventures of Henry'! Glad you had a good day.

  2. I was wondering what had happened to that young man! He's a sweet boy underneath all his insecurities!

  3. PS the amount of time you are putting in reminds me of your father, he puts SO MUCH time in on the weekends, he really should be recognized as an extraordinary teacher!


Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner