I was warned at the beginning of this school year (by fellow teachers) that students would miss many classes due to various activities. I was warned that the first semester wouldn’t be too bad, but that during second semester school would become a bit of a joke because of the sheer number of missed classes. I was warned that this would be frustrating.
Guess what? It is.
It’s been five and a half weeks since the beginning of the term. I teach 17 class periods per week, so that’s a total of 92 classes. One day was a holiday, so supposedly I’ve taught 89 classes since the beginning of term.
How many do you think I’ve actually taught?
Due to Scout Camps, testing, Sports Day (more on this in a future post—it’s this upcoming Friday), cleaning, field trips, etc, I’ve missed 23 classes. Of the 89 classes I’ve had, I’ve only taught 66! That’s about three quarters! 75%! (Can you tell I’m teaching conversions between fractions and percentages in my 6th grade math class?)
During the first semester, I would show up every once in a while to an empty classroom, and just return to my office, shrugging my shoulders and feeling somewhat of a guilty pleasure in not having to teach class. Missing class set me back as far as class work went, but I mean, really—who complains when they find out they are relieved of their duties?
Well, now, I guess I do.
Today I arrived at one of my classes ready to go. It was my Matayom four (10th grade) English reading and writing class, and it’s my favorite. The students are awesome—little darlings, and always make me smile. I ushered them into the classroom, got them settled down, and found out how their weekends went. They took out their pens and pencils, notebooks and pieces of paper. I was at the board, writing out my first general correction for them on a recent descriptive writing assignment they had, when I heard a knock at the door.
In extremely rough English, an older student asked if my students (all 39 of them) could leave class to go practice cheering for Sports Day (yes, you read that right—practice cheering. There aren’t actually sports on sports day, just a lot of dancing and cheering. Again, I’ll tell more when the actually day happens, this Friday.) After entertaining the idea for about 2 seconds, I said no. During first semester, I definitely would have said yes. I would have pretended to consider the notion, pausing for enough time to make everyone think I might say no, and then relent and let the class take off to do whatever was required of them. But now, I’m tired of missing class. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not giving my students the education they deserve because frequent random events keep preventing me from teaching. So I said no.
After shooing the older student out the door, I got back to my point at the board. My pen was about to touch the whiteboard when two more students showed up. These two were more insistent, and had better English. “Now,” one of the students said. “Now students practice.” A few moments later, my Thai co-teacher showed up, and confirmed that the students did, indeed, need to go practice; that they couldn’t stay in class. So I let them go. To practice. Cheering.
I teach this particular class twice per week—Tuesdays and Fridays. They missed class today (Tuesday). They will also miss class on Friday due to Sports Day. Of the twelve classes they should have had so far this semester, they will only have attended seven.
I was warned. I was warned that missed classes would increase during the second semester. I was warned it would be frustrating. I was not misled.
|My resulting empty classroom :/|