According to my teaching course, a teacher’s effectiveness is measured by their students’ improvement. They are to solely to blame for their students’ success or failure.
Since I don’t teach in America, I am not bound by the bureaucracy of the No Child Left Behind Act ( which every teacher I’ve ever talked to views as a blight to both students and teachers). In fact, my administration has permitted me to leave as many children behind as I want. Lately, I’ve been pondering what the optimal number of students to leave behind might be.
An idealist, who I might characterize as one of these people, would balk at the thought of giving up on any student at all. They would point to this as a reflection of my incompetence.
A realist would consider other factors, rather than resort to absolute principles. For example, what cost is born by the other students if I devote extra time to the troublemakers? Is this cost worth the benefit that is received by the troublemaker? How effective am I at teaching children with disruptive behavior compared to my effectiveness at teaching mild-mannered children?
If you consider that I have no training, little experience, and no fluency in the students’ native language, it is hard to believe that I teach effectively at all.
Let’s get one thing straight- I am not saying I am a mediocre or even a real teacher. When I say that I am “effective” I only mean that I am relative to my Korean coworkers. They show up later to the classroom than I because of their massive administrative duties, and they don’t have the abilities needed to give a coat of veneer to a poorly prepared, repetitive lesson with humor and improvisation like I do. If we’re making stew, we’re both using broth from rotten meat, but I’ve got a rack of spices to cover up the shit smell.
As uninspiring and repetitive as my lessons may be, the my students don’t mind at all. The content is challenging, they receive positive feedback, and I think they are just grateful to be taught by someone with a good humor who they can relax around. I can’t be sure of their progress since I don’t test or assign homework, but I’m sure the kids at my main school are. The other two schools are just breeding onion farmers and surrogates.
So nobody’s complaining, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Well, it’s still a lopsided wheel, and I might not know how to straighten it, but I can at least scrape the dog shit off. If I were to have a strict two-strike policy for expulsion from the classroom, how much harm could it possibly do? The disruptive children are usually, but not always, ones that are not learning and under no illusion that the educational system does not care about them. They have given up because
the system we have given up on them. Were I capable of helping them, I might not be content to watch them rot. However, when I’m spinning the wheel and the shit starts to spread, that I can not tolerate.
I can turn a cheek to the stench no longer. The shit needs wiping up.