Pirate Blog — Toa Samoa

Tracking my Peace Corps Adventures in Western Samoa

Disipline Issues

Posted by Igor Popstefanija on March 24, 2009

I’m at the peace corps computer, so I’m not able to upload any images with this post. I also don’t have anything else to show you. I do however have some interesting news from my school.

Every year (english: grade) is split up into serval classrooms, depending on their optional classes. The year 12 computer option is in room D1. However, only 18 of the 40 or so students are taking computers (some of the others are taking geography or art). This has been a recurring problem, because a large portion of the classroom remains unsupervised during times of the day.

Having only 5 working computers, I will sometimes split my students into groups, so I can have as close to a 1:1 student to computer ratio as possible. Yesterday was one such day, and I left the other computer students with the students who don’t have class in the classroom unsupervised. Big mistake. I came back toward the end of period, and one of the other teachers was in the room. It seems that some of the boys had brought a portable DVD player to school that day and they were watching “blue movies.” This is what Samoans call pornography. So now all of the kids are in trouble, except the 7 that were with me in the computer lab.

Disipline has been an issue for me while in school, and it seems like a common issue for us peace corps. Although corporal punishment is illegal in Samoa, it is still widely practiced. Let me be clear, I have no intention of hitting any of students, but I feel as if they don’t take me seriously because I don’t. Sometimes the students will hit each other, and my mantra has been “no hitting” (kinda like, “no touching” on arrested development) which the students will now say to each other in my presence. Anyway, I guess its something that I will have to learn to deal with, if anyone has any suggestions, please post comments below. I promise there will be pictures next time!

6 Responses to “Disipline Issues”

  1. Katie Averill said

    spare the rod, spoil the child!

    mwahaha

  2. charlie said

    Look up ‘Brazen Bull’ on wiki.

  3. Lisa Kosanovic said

    Hi Igor, your mom asked me to give you some thoughts on this, since I’ve been teaching math in Holyoke for about four years now. I haven’t completely mastered the classroom management thing either – some days I think not at all – but I do have some thoughts.
    First, connect with your students as individuals as much as possible. If they feel a connection, they are less likely to misbehave, and if they do they are more likely to respond to your requests to stop misbehaving. Also, if you feel connected to them, it’s more fun to teach. Second, if a particular kid is a problem, talk to that kid privately, and appeal to his sense of decency. Kids who need attention might need this ten or twenty times, but eventually it will work. Third, NEVER lose your cool. Never let yourself get angry, never raise your voice, never lash out at a kid. The only possible outcomes are: (a) you look silly; (b) they dislike you; (c) you dislike yourself for losing your temper; (d) you dislike them for making you lose your temper; (e) some combination of the above. The irony is that if you care about them, and if you pour yourself into doing a good job, and somehow it doesn’t work or they’re not interested, it’s hard not to get angry. Step back, take a deep breath, and consider trying something different.

    • igorpop said

      Thanks Lisa, your comment was very helpful. I am getting to know my students on a personal level, but you are right, it can be very frustrating. So far I’ve been able to keep back my temper, I’ve been trying out some new techniques (like rewarding the students that do behave and do well). I guess the first year is for me to get the hang of things. Hope all is well in Amherst! Thanks again.

      Igor

  4. Bethany said

    The “not losing your cool” part is exactly what I’m trying to learn to do with Alina (my 1 year old) right now. If they know they can “make you” do something (ie “make you yell”, “make you angry”) they’ll keep doing it because they know they have that power over you.

    Anyways, don’t know if it works yet. ;)

  5. Chris said

    I’ve had peace corp teachers throughout most of my schooling life in the 80’s and the most successful ones made the class experience more exciting. Every other class and Samoan teacher your students have give them the ‘smack down’ hard and fast when called for or for no reason other than to remind everyone who’s boss. The PC teacher on the other hand is like a rock star there to impart more than book learning but hopefully share relevant life stories and experiences from a different world literally for inspiration. Start by making the lessons relevant to their village lives, incoporate their reality in the lesoga and they may start seeing a future path to follow. Or you can always dish out the smack down, just dont hurt anyone serious.

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