Nuggets of Pedagogy: The New Guard


With each new semester, the staff gets shuffled around from place to place. New people are hired, old ones retire, and most of the subject staff (especially the English department) get assigned to different grades and subjects based on need and the capricious whims of our mighty overlord, the principal. Thus, we have a new science teacher with near-perfect English, another new English co-teacher for me, and all of my other co-teachers getting assigned wholly new grades and additional classes (at my school, the English teachers are all saddled with morals/ethics class, to their deep and prolonged chagrin).

I mostly weather these changes with benign passivity. Everything mutates around here with increasing frequency and without particular reason, and so I just sort of ride along sidecar. Very rapidly, I am becoming the most tenured member of our current English staff, as this honour has just sort of fallen upon me as a result of being the most difficult person to shift around. The only things I typically pay any mind to are those likely to move me from my desk: our slick new library and Art Hall (basically: a 5th floor amphitheatre), and the additional classes being run in my classroom that force me into the boring, computerless depths of the English office.

But I have a new coteacher for grade five, and whenever I have a new teacher, I always approach them delicately. I’ve become accustomed to simply having the entire workload handed to me, and so I gently try to assess how quickly I can assume the reins. I have had a taste of full control, and I like it, and thus I want it. But when New Co and I had our first meeting, she casually mentioned that she was similarly used to preparing the lessons entirely on her own. I was dumb-struck. I had a co-worker who did work?

Her lessons turned out to be pretty by-the-book, but just sort of showing up and having something handed to me was a bewildering experience. As the day went on during our lessons, the reason for her overplanning became clearer. Every time I took control, or quieted the class down, or showed some vague inclination to be more than a braindead voicebox waiting out the hours until quitting time where I could do as all foreign English teachers do (ie. get drunk and ruin Korea), surprise washed over her face. I knew names, and could quiet kids with a glance, and memorized the plan for the class quickly. I had discipline well in hand, and my voice generally manages to get to booming without the slightest strain. From her hinting, it sounds as though most of the other foreign teachers she had dealt with were largely feckless, or that she knew most of the vague rumours about our quality as educators and humans, and thus my possession of feck made me stand out to an immense degree.

Apparently my just showing up and not sucking made her regale my coworkers with the tales of my greatness for some time afterwards, which she also did about the kids. When I heard this, I was confused. Grade 5? Our grade 5? But this is the first week, and the grade fives were all acting suspiciously on their best behavior around her. They are the picture of docility, quietly accepting her ministrations and instructions with nary a thrown piece of stationary or long, muttered conversations in Korean. I don’t know exactly what their game is: for now, they are hunting the stamps which the New Co doles out to them (to ends which are unknown to me and thus they are consumed entirely by the acquisition. But once that falters, and they go back to normal, is when the real teaching comes out. That’s when they will reveal themselves to be the ravenous beasts yearning to feast upon our souls, and I will have to go wild west sheriff on them for a few weeks to keep thins calm.

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5 thoughts on “Nuggets of Pedagogy: The New Guard

  1. “My possession of feck”–nice.

    What is the opposite of feckless–feckful? And what exactly is feck? (Oh, English, no matter your wackiness, I love you–how could I not?)

  2. In your befeckedness, perhaps you are just unthinking or irresponsible as it could not be true that you lack purpose (efficiency) or vitality!

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