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Thread: Help in getting the attention of a student?

  1. #1
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    Default Help in getting the attention of a student?

    I believe for the most part, I have been really lucky with my placement. I'm teaching in 2 fairly small towns (~2000 residents each) at small schools (~100 students each). Most of my kids are friendly, many of them quite outgoing. The shy kids are polite at least.

    Now, my question is about the 1, and I'm not kidding it's really only 1, student who just shuts off in class. He's a san nen sei, and I had my first "real" class with him last week. I was so surprised because during rehearsals for the sports festival he was such a good leader! And he jokes around with the other students and stuff outside of class, I really thought he would be one of the fun ones. But alas, should I approach him outside of class, or heck, even look at him, he either ignores me or turns on the spot and walks away. In class he pays attention for the opening (how's the weather? what's the date?) and then literally, head goes to the desk. If I approach him in class he just ignores me. In fact, the girl sitting next to him in class even poked and prodded him and he wouldn't sit up. I should mention as well I've caught him watching me just as much as all the other students, so it's not like he's COMPLETELY ignoring me, just when I approach him or in class.

    I spoke to my JTE about him during conversation class today, where he was awake and did converse a tad bit but refused to participate in most of the activities, and it sounds like he's like this in every class except PE and art. He's got anger management issues according to my JTE, though I've never seen anything like that besides the somewhat cold reception I recieve from him. Anyway, he doesn't pay attention in most of his other classes either, sort of the problem kid at school I guess. The interesting thing is that he's in the optional English conversation class - something you have to sign up for on purpose. If he were just in regular English class I think I wouldn't be nearly as concerned about it, but the fact that he signed up for the extra class, and since he's the only one I have this problem with, he has piqued my interest.

    Now I know I've got a couple of big hurdles here given that
    1) I'm a girl.
    2) My Japanese sucks and he either can't or won't speak English

    However, I've managed to win over some of his friends, and most of the other boys (even the shy ones) are beginning to warm up to me. For example, today we were arm wrestling after lunch, something I doubt many foreign women are willing to do with these kids They were really cute trying to show off in front of me. And my problem student did come over and join the group of kids that had gathered round to watch the competitions.

    *ahem* anyway, my JTE has asked me to please try to work on him. But I really am at a loss for what to do! He seemed impressed with my self-introduction (esp the part where I showed pictures of me doing engineering stuff (big equipment and whatnot) and with my motorcycles), at least he paid attention to it anyway. I suppose I scored a minor victory today by getting him to actually respond to me in the hallway in passing (me: hello! him: *grumble* hello.).

    So, after all that, any ideas? I don't want to be one of those really annoying people that won't take a hint if someone doesn't like me (which is how it seems at times), but I want to at least TRY. Hell, I'd take it as a victory if he would even attempt to write something on the worksheets in class. Or if he didn't put his head down when I'm talking. *sigh*
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    I'd go with poke and prod a little, but don't go out of your way to hound him down, or spend 10mins of the class trying to get him involved. Either he'll warm up to you in his own time, or he'll flat out ignore you until he graduates. Not really anything you can do about it. I have a couple of kids who pretend I don't exist, but I also have a few who spent the first 2 or 3 months being downright rude to me, but will now run up to me in the corridors to try and chat to me in English.

    Don't force yourself. You're just going to make yourself tired and him annoyed. Try to include him, but don't make a big deal out of it. It's not really your job to save kids from their own personal issues.


    I did have one thing for me that worked really well. I had one 3nensei class that was impossible. No interest in what I had to say at all. I told them the story of Guy Fawkes, and then introduced the ideas of supporting the goverment and obeying it, versus supporting individual freedom and saying the goverment is wrong and corrupt. I encouraged the kids to discuss what they thought about the issue IN JAPANESE, and asked the JTE to translate the basics between us. The lesson itself involved very little learning of English, but the kids had a chance to discuss a serious issue and think about things. The students who usually slept right through my classes were actually the ones sitting on the edge of their seats, arguing with me on every point. After that class, they still weren't so keen on English, but they would always wake up for my classes, and make an effort if I asked them to.
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  3. #3
    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    I have lots of these students. My sincere advice is to give up. Thre is some kids who are just planks and there's not a real lot you can do about it till s/he puts in the effort him/herself.

    You have no control over them outside the class (and very limited inside it) and if they really don't want to study that much 50 minutes of you berating them a couple of times a week won't get them to pass their high school exams anyway.

    It's the system that creates these kids - not you and there's really nothing you can do about it.

    BUT I like to trip over the chair or desk of a student like this, especially if they're asleep. Then apologise profusely. You can usually drag their desk with your foot about 10 centimeters. Wakes them up and they get a little bit of English even if it's 'im really sorry'. Funny but a bit cruel.

    Ive got some other kids who really are just thick as a post and I'll sometimes sit with them while everyone's doing group work and read to them if they won't read to me. Better than nothing the above notwithstanding.
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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    If he's a good leader then he probably likes to be the centre of attention, so give him a special task - e.g. being a scribe and writing things on the board, collecting everyone's prints etc.
    Give a group work task and appoint him responsible for reporting for his group (most Japanese kids may slack off on things just for themselves, but if he has to do it for his mates, he will take more of an interest).
    Use prizes that he wants as an incentive.
    Find out what he's into and gear a lesson around that theme.
    And if none of that works, take Dombay's advice. Seriously, you can't win them all; and while it's never a good feeling to just give up on a kid, sometimes they leave you with little choice - especially if it's not just your class he's like that it.
    Good luck - I think it's great that you care so much about this one kid when you have all the others eating out of your hand!
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    Whip your chesticles out and rest them on his head. Bound to get his attention and you might even make a new friend.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

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    if he doesn't want to make an effort in class, just let him be.

    he obviously doesn't like english, your presence there isn't going to magically change his mind.

    if you were in his shoes, could you think of anything more annoying than some foreigner -making- him take part in a class he has no interest in, or a language he clearly doesn't care about?

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    wtf you guys? what happened to the gaijin neba gibbu appu spirit?!

    eta-car, you have only been teaching this sulky sack of testosterone for two weeks, yet already it seems you've made headway. so he's obviously not a hopeless case! (if 6 months from now the situation hasn't changed, however, you may want to consider taking dombay/wicket's advice)

    so far, it sounds like you're doing all the right things- it's just going to take time. keep on smiling, greeting him in the halls, befriending his friends, making jokes, etc. whatever you do, though, don't show him that his behavior gets to you. don't allow him to see your anger, frustration, or hurt feelings. these sullen attention-needy types feed on that shit, and once he knows he can get to you, he'll be even harder to crack.

    here's some inspiration for you:



    p.s., my 3rd-year optional english class is 60% English-hating yakuza-spawn, as well. these kids are absent pretty often, so they probably missed the optional class sign-up day, and ended up being forced to take optional english class after all the good classes became full.

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amagaeru
    sulky sack of testosterone
    Awesome expression.

    Seriously though - you get the last laugh when all the kids come to the staff room to get their high school placements.

    Problem is that it's just not funny when all those kids come up and get told they're going to Ricufirudomura Industrial High school, known for it's high pregnancy and murder rates, or the 'im sorry Tanaka, you're just far too stupid to go to any high school in this prefecture -'

    Really sad but the kids make the beds they lie in. It's a shame noone tells them this. Remember that if your JHS, this kid has been passed in every academic endeavour he's ever undertaken, whether or not he puts in any effort at all.

    Unfortunately they come to a point in the end when their results actually do mean something and it's like a brick to the face.
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    Quote Originally Posted by surgeon
    if he doesn't want to make an effort in class, just let him be.

    he obviously doesn't like english, your presence there isn't going to magically change his mind.

    if you were in his shoes, could you think of anything more annoying than some foreigner -making- him take part in a class he has no interest in, or a language he clearly doesn't care about?
    Well, if it was just that he slept through English class, I probably wouldn’t take such an active interest in him. But he’s in the optional English conversation class, so that makes me want to try. I don’t know if he just signed up for it because it was the easiest one of the options, but he’s in it so I care I guess.

    My JTE said that he’s terrible at academics but that she thinks he wants to be better, just that he’s one of those kids who is not good at school. The way she just ignores him in class makes me sad, like everybody’s just given up on him at this point. Granted, there’s only 2 terms left before he’s out of there, but still….

    And yeah, you’re second point is my big question mark. I really don’t want to be some annoying pushy foreigner, but I don’t just want to throw in the towel so early on.

    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    I like to trip over the chair or desk of a student like this, especially if they're asleep. Then apologise profusely. You can usually drag their desk with your foot about 10 centimeters. Wakes them up and they get a little bit of English even if it's 'im really sorry'. Funny but a bit cruel.
    Is this possible when your student is bigger than you? I suppose if it’s the desk and not the chair I might be able to pull it off. I’m not sure if it might embarrass him and therefore turn him off even more?

    Quote Originally Posted by wicket
    Give a group work task and appoint him responsible for reporting for his group (most Japanese kids may slack off on things just for themselves, but if he has to do it for his mates, he will take more of an interest).
    Good luck - I think it's great that you care so much about this one kid when you have all the others eating out of your hand!
    Hmmm, this is good ^_^ The way he lead his team in sports festival, maybe this might work… and thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by amagaeru
    keep on smiling, greeting him in the halls, befriending his friends, making jokes, etc. whatever you do, though, don't show him that his behavior gets to you. don't allow him to see your anger, frustration, or hurt feelings. these sullen attention-needy types feed on that shit, and once he knows he can get to you, he'll be even harder to crack.
    Yeah, I already feel like I’ve given the bad behavior too much attention by whispering to him (in English, so I’m sure he didn’t understand :P) “you know it’s really rude to sleep when someone is trying to teach”. Not that he responded of course, lol

    Thanks for all the advice guys!
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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    hehhe ... not many kids are bigger than me.

    in fact not many ALTs are bigger than either.

    Also: Your JTE will tell you that the desk and chair are all 'not very good at English but really want to try', it's bollocks - they don't.
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    I hate say negative things but...

    I think he's in optional english class because he knows he can get a easy ride...

    Or the other teachers don't want him in their classes, so gave him to you...

    I know that both of these things have happened in the past. (Eventually by pleading the ALT in the 2nd situation was able to get the kids out of her class.)

    Of course this doesn't mean you should give up on him. How about showing Romeo and Juliet - the De Caprio/Danes version? Its Shakespear - so your JTE should be ok with it, while it has pleanty of gun fights, drug taking, love scenes - something for all your students. Remember to have them discuss the movie - having them write what they think happens next is always good fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    hehhe ... not many kids are bigger than me.

    in fact not many ALTs are bigger than either.

    Also: Your JTE will tell you that the desk and chair are all 'not very good at English but really want to try', it's bollocks - they don't.
    You're definitely one tall motherfucker!
    ...then again, I'm not the tallest either.

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    Invite him to the local bar and when he turns to head to the toilet give him a good bottling. It'll teach him that it's not ok to fuck about in class, and let the dozy cunt know that he really shouldn't be out drinking with teachers in the first place.

    Hope that helps.

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying_Kiwis
    Invite him to the local bar and when he turns to head to the toilet give him a good bottling. It'll teach him that it's not ok to fuck about in class, and let the dozy cunt know that he really shouldn't be out drinking with teachers in the first place.

    Hope that helps.
    I like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    BUT I like to trip over the chair or desk of a student like this, especially if they're asleep. Then apologise profusely. You can usually drag their desk with your foot about 10 centimeters. Wakes them up and they get a little bit of English even if it's 'im really sorry'. Funny but a bit cruel.
    That's brilliant. If I'm having a bad day that is totally happening.

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Don't even wait for a bad day! I got this idea from someone on here and i cannot remmeber who it was so i cannot really take the credit.
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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom
    I How about showing Romeo and Juliet - the De Caprio/Danes version?
    I HATE that movie. And the original play, now I come to think of it. WTF was old Bill thinking when he wrote that shite?
    But apart from that, you can't show it to junior high kids because of its audience rating. Rules about that are pretty strict in Australia and even more so here.
    Like tom said, it has drug taking and sexual references, not to mention bad language. The PTA would murder you. I'd probably hesitate to show it to a senior high class.
    The movie idea is good though - what kind of movies does problem child like? Also - short scenes from movies that the kids can slightly alter and re-enact are better than watching the whole film, in my experience.
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    Wicket - I have showed it at my JHS.


    I got away with it too.


    But only the once.


    My JTE wasn't bothered about the drugs, fights, or the suicides - she was only worried about nudity. We kind of skipped over the drugs bit in class.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket
    WTF was old Bill thinking when he wrote that shite?
    Jailbait boobies.


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