June 05, 2011

white out warzone.. aftermath

As is the case with most battles there is a fallout, some kind of repercussion, or consequence. Believe it or not, the tests my students take have a relatively quick and devastating effect on my classes. My school places a lot of importance upon the class the students are in. For example the MGT1-A1's are the top MGT1 students in the school (there are usually 3-4 classes per grade level).

Much like actual battles, some people shine and are therefore promoted. Others crumble, in combat this means they probably die, and in my school they get demoted. Although a death (of sorts) can occur if a student's test score is bad enough, they can be 'killed off' and sent back to a regular campus. In order to set the war heroes apart from the fallen there is a rubric (how fitting for an educational institute!). The breakdown is as follows:
10% for each of the two monthly exams
30% for a reading comprehension test* (the test measures their American reading level)
50% for a level test*
*Both the reading test, and the level test are not based on material we've covered specifically in class. Instead they are based on material the students haven't seen, and they are tested on the concepts. For example, the reading section of the level test is not based upon any of the stories that we've read in class, while the monthly exams are. The questions for the monthly tests are often questions the students have even seen before, they are taken from the online learning homework. In essence these two tests, which make up the majority of the rubric, are like an actual battlefield as training is truly put to the test. The students will either sink or swim, only their wits can save them
I don't fully agree with this method. I think it is another way that we stress out these already overloaded Korean elementary school students. I currently have three students 'taking a break'. These breaks are often code for 'burned out child'. It creates an ethical dilemma stemming from the immense importance of academics and grades in this culture. This is also a topic I'll focus on for a later post.

Once the tactical performance of each student has been appraised, or marked, the classes are realigned. This past week those results have been released, and 2/3 of the school is on the move. 1/3 of the students have proven that they are tough little troopers and have been promoted. These promotions have come at the cost of student casualties, a 1/3 of the students along with their incorrectly pot marked OMR cards have been demoted. Some promotions are huge, with students climbing two classes, while leapfrogging the tattered corpses of students who fell just as far. The remaining 1/3 have survived the battle and tread water in the same spot they've held prior.

I currently teach twelve classes, and two of them are now comprised of entirely new students. One of those classes is actually filled full of fresh faced new recruits. These students have been brought in an attempt to fill up some of the voids several MIA students have created (students who left during the first three months). Their first week was like a boot camp of sorts, as I was forced to act like a drill Sergeant. These kids entered the battlefield bright eyed and bushy tailed, I sent them home first night shell shocked at the obstacle course I placed in front of them. They've entered right in the middle of concepts (some of which they've never heard of) and routines I've established with all my other classes, I've little option but to put them through the paces.

Surrender is hard for some...
A similar transition is also taking shape in all of my other classes as students from other classes enter my squads (a small military unit). While my school is small all the teachers have their own routines and unique teaching style. Change is never an easy concept to deal with, let alone when you are in grade 1. Any slight change adds stress to the students, which causes them to act unpredictably. I've spent the past week tightening up on my previously loosened discipline.
...easy for others.
I've feel that I've been left on the field in the aftermath of this latest war trying to figure out what role each of my students play in my 12 new squads. Some of it appears clear, but three months into the semester this change has mostly added unnecessary stress. With September looming, a countdown has now been set for the next war to take place.

1 comment:

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