A Letter to a Pupil

Reach these kids

Me this week

When I used to teach in Korea, I was teaching some big children and some little children. I used to feel very responsible for them. They were too young to make decisions for themselves to I had to help them make good decisions.

You’re in your first year of university; you’re not a kid anymore and you’re supposed to be responsible for your actions. I can’t pretend to be a great life decision maker and I don’t know you. I don’t know if it’s a good life decision or not to watch TV shows on your phone in class. It could be fine for you. You might not care about English as much as other things, and maybe you shouldn’t.

After I saw you on your phone I called you out in front of the class. I thought it was okay at the time, but I’ve been wondering about it since. I’m not sure what my job is supposed to be now that I teach at a university.

The reason I did make an example of you is because I know cultures get created in class. When people see each other doing things, they copy them. I don’t want to have five students watching TV in class next week. I also hope if you take part a little you’ll really enjoy the class and not want distractions next time.

There’s still a part of me wants to just say ‘fine’. If you don’t work in my class, you can do the test at the end. If you do well without concentrating much, maybe my class was kind of a waste of time for you. If you don’t do well, then it’s your responsibility.

One of the other teachers told me not to give students the chance to mess about in class. He does lots of drilling and doesn’t give students time to work independently. All of the students in his class are always on task and he says it works well. One of the reasons I personally got into teaching was I really like teaching independence and reflective skills. I know lots of students are really benefiting from  independent work.

I’m sorry if you were embarrassed or mad at me in class. I’m still thinking about how to deal with these situations and I might get it wrong some time.

Yours sincerely,