Do you make the same effort with unruly students? | TEFL Jobs London

Do you make the same effort with unruly students?

by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Do you make the same effort with unruly students?

I must say I’ve been fairly spoilt when it comes to students. I started teaching over a year ago now (something I still find a little unbelievable) and ever since, I have had lovely students. If ever there was a bad apple, there was always 5 other lovely ones as well. Some students who I met last year, as I was starting out have left the school recently making me nostalgic, new students who arrived over the summer have been and still are a pleasure to teach. For the most part, there are students who make laugh, those who fascinate me and those I am happy to see upon entering the classroom.

The bad apples

…But what about those bad apples? They’re out there and every now and then, they crop up. I count myself lucky to work in a school where they are rarity. However, I have unfortunately been contending with some bad apples of late. This is somewhat of a first for me because said apples have been the only two apples in my class this term. This brings the situation much more to the forefront without any other students to dull the pain.

I mean, we can’t like everyone can we? No, of course not. I’m all for peace, love and happiness but we’re merely human and there’s no way we could possibly like everyone we encounter. We tend to spend our time with the people we are partial to when we have the choice. When we can’t, we just have to suck it up and be as civil as possible. This is a fact of life and something we have to deal with as an adult in the work place but how does this affect teaching?

Treating unruly students equally

I recently vented my frustrations in the staff room much to the sympathy of other teachers. I claimed that even though I didn’t exactly have a great rapport with them, I was still teaching them to the best of my ability to which a colleague replied, “you can’t possibly teach students you don’t like to the best of your ability”.

I instantly disagreed with him but I have since mulled it over. Although I still put in the same amount of time and effort into preparing my lessons, I’ve come to realise that perhaps how I interact with them is different and maybe not my best. This is something that must have an effect on their learning and I don’t ever want to hinder that if I can help it, but is that possible? It’s an intriguing question because no one in this story is a bad person and my little head can’t quite get around it.

Basically I’m trying to contend with my natural reaction to a given situation versus my teacher head trying to keep controlled. Surely though, it must work the other way round and not every student could possibly like me and neither do I expect them to but let’s be honest, it certainly does help, doesn’t it?


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