I've mentioned before that 4th grade is my favorite grade to teach. While they are still kids, in our curriculum, many of them are fairly advanced students of English, so in my upper levels, conversations can be had. They are still small, and have not quite reached puberty, so unlike the 5th and 6th graders, defiance is not prevalent, because they still don't quite understand the concept of looking "cool" in front of members of the opposite sex.
Allow me to explain defiance through an incident that happened today in one of my 6th grade classes. I've repeatedly warned my 6th graders to not have books from other classes out on their desks, especially math books. One girl, Amber, had two large math books on her desk. Because she didn't have her backpack, I showed her mercy, and merely kept the books on a small table in the front of the class (within reach of the students who sit in the front row), with the intention of giving them back to her when class was over.
Within a few minutes, immediately after I finished writing on the chalkboard, I turned toward the table to find one of the boys, Dave, reaching over his desk for the books, as he was standing. I calmly kicked Dave and Amber out of the class. And outside, I let them have it. I said to Amber, "If the math books are out on your desk, they're mine. The next time I see them, I'm keeping them." And I looked at Dave, "If it's not yours, DON'T. TOUCH. IT!!!" I made Dave repeat it several times, "Eep eet's not yours, don't-ah touch eet... Eep eet's not yours, don't-ah touch eet..." I calmly went back in class, and continued the lesson as if nothing happened, while Dave and Amber were standing outside. Defiance angers me.
I prefer teaching the younger kids because the defiance is significantly less prevalent. In one of my 4th grade classes, Haley has a crush on Ryan. Most of the other girls in that class do as well, but none are as smitten as Haley. Korean 4th graders demonstrate their infatuation differently. They love to show how much they "hate" the object of their affection. For example, I have each student create a sentence including two vocabulary words from the story. The subject of all of Haley's sentences were Ryan, and they were less than flattering. On a normal day, during the sentence making segment of class, upon it becoming Haley's turn to make a sentence, I would tell her, "Okay Haley, choose two vocabulary words."
"Eat and dericious," Haley would reply.
She would sit and ponder for a moment, gather herself, then confidently recite, "Bear eat the Lyan, and he was dericious!"
The whole class would burst in laughter. I would calm them down, then correct Haley's mistakes, "The bear ate Ryan, and thought he was delicious."
"The bear ate-ah Lyan, and thought he was dericious!" Haley would repeat.
In the beginning, I allowed them to make such sentences, because Ryan was one of my wilder 4th graders who was apt to getting in trouble. He was also a good sport about it, and took the good natured teasing well. And not to mention, Haley was the only one doing it. It very quickly got old when all of the students in the class started making sentences about "Lyan." I would ask them, "Do you girls like Ryan? When girls are mean to a boy, that means that they like him..."
Every girl in the class would then proceed to act as if they were gagging, then exclaim, "Teacher!! Lyan is bery bery bery bad!!" I then began to discipline the students whenever they included the name, "Lyan," in a sentence with a negative connotation, and that killed it.
Ryan then took a vacation to the U.S. He spent the summer in both New York City, and Miami, and was gone for four months. He soon became an afterthought.
Yesterday, at school, I saw Ryan in the halls for the first time in months. I warmly welcomed him, and told him, "I'm glad you're back, Ryan."
Moments later, one of my female students from that particular class, Alice, tapped me on the shoulder, and excitedly proclaimed, "Teacher! Lyan is back!"
"I know, and you girls be nice to him, okay?" Alice immediately saw Haley down the hall, and ran to her to tell her the news in Korean. Upon hearing the news, Haley's Korean eyes lit up like I have never seen a pair of eyes light up before. They suddenly got bigger, her heart began to noticeably race, and she began to smile.
In school, the Korean teachers determine the seating arrangements, and the one for this particular class sat Ryan next to Haley. I guess I'm not the only one who noticed.