Friday, January 21, 2011

Teaching Mexican Teenagers

Are they all gruesome to teach? Spoiled little brats? Let's find out.

A discussion over at the Cafe Mexico section is raging.

Doublethinker begins:

I just started a job two weeks ago as full-time sub for secundaria and prepa (eventually as other teachers leave I'll get my own classes). I was super excited to get the job because it pays a lot and I really, really wanted to work with youth. Also, the principal, vice principal and all other staff are really nice and they do a lot of professional development. It's one of the more expensive private colegios in the city (I'm not going to mention the name.)

I knew it would be hard and there would be behavior problems, but I am shocked, just shocked at how bad the kids are. I wish I could just be the laid back teacher, but if I don't discipline 75% of each class just talks over me and completely ignores their work. So (encouraged by my principal) I've decided to be strict so the students will actually work and pay attention. Not "sit down you little *beep*" strict, but "Juan, Maria, it is really frustrating to try to teach with you two yelling, this is the third time I've asked so you need to go down to the office." Nice but firm... so I thought. Instead the kids are revolting and calling me a bitch and threatening to tell their parents.

Now, there are some nice groups, but others are devils. Today one class was so rowdy I asked a few people to leave but the behavior continued. I needed to show consequences so I called the principal in (a very nice lady.) She gave them a quick talk about respect and told them they have to stay in for recess. (With a few exceptions, the 6 good students could leave.) As soon as she left I started hearing a lot of "que tonteria de puta" and as soon as recess started they literally swarmed me and yelling at me and pushed me out the door.

I really want to teach, and there are a lot of nice students at the school and it brings me a lot of joy talking to them and encouraging them and hearing their opinions. But I just don't know if I have it in me to be good at classroom management.

Soooo... I'd like to ask, for those that have taught in Mexico (preferably at a similarly fresa school) and abroad, are my students really bad or are all adolescents so impossible to control? I'd like to think that if I can get through a couple years here that if I go back to Canada or another country to teach that the behavior will be a little better. Like, is it all uphill from here? Or perhaps my personality would be more suited to returning to adult ESL or even primary school.

Thanks for your opinions!

EP adds:

Secundaria and especially prepa in Mexico will either make you or break you as a teacher. It's not a nice experience per se, but you do learn a hell of a lot. I hated it too but after I taught prepa for a year, everything else was much easier and funnily enough, my prepa students are the ones that remember me most when I see them around the city.

Follow the discussion at the link above.

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