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ESL forum > Ask for help > UPSET    



Hi dear friends!!! Today I had an incident in my class that really upset me. I īve got quite a lot of experience (13 years teaching in a high school dealing with teenagers) and I have always had a good relationship with them, the good ones and the ībad ī ones. This year I īve got a very difficult group, there are very good students but there are others that aren īt interested in anything at all. I īve also got an interchange student from abroad, who is almost bilingual. The other day I told her that I was going to give her more difficult exercises because her level is higher than the one my students have. She told me that if I didn īt mind she wanted to help one of the ībad ī students, rather than doing the different activities. However, the situation has slipped through my fingers, because everybody around her wantes her īprivate ī lessons, and while  I īm explaining whatever these students don īt listen to me because then they īve got the private īlesson ī afterwards. When I told her that the situation couldn īt go on any more like that anymore because one thing was helping and the other thing was having a parallel class, she answered me that I had prejudices against ībad ī students, and she didn īt want the extra exercises because she already knew the new stuff as well. It really upset me the fact that after 13 years and having had  a wide variety of students and having students from different nationalities, somebody who is sixteen says thsoe tough words to me.
I īm sorry this post is too long but I really needed to explain it to somebody.

16 Jan 2013      


sorry to hear you are upset, but not surprised because my own 16-year-old child can say the most amazing (and hurtful) things at times!

I īm sure you can find tasks for this student that are adapted to her level of knowledge and challenge her. 
If she is almost bilingual, you might make her read short stories or a novel and analyze them. That īs less gratifying for her than being admired and asked for help by the others in the class, of course, and more tiring, too. But it īs what she needs.

If I were you I would explain to her that it īs your job as a teacher to make sure that everybody gets his or her challenge at the very level of knowledge he has. The fact that she thinks she knows it all shows how much she still has to learn - in English and in life.
That means that she will from now on do more demanding jobs, since she is a student and not a substitute teacher, and that you, on account of your training as a teacher, will take care of weaker students.

16 Jan 2013     


I think Elderberry wine gave you a good answer, so this is just a note of support, to reassure you that even with 30 years of experience which I have, there are still situations which are trying and which can bring us almost to tears.  At times the best thing to do is to sleep on it and speak to the student the following day, when I īve had time to get my bearings and think about the situation.Good luck to you and I"m sure it will get better, you sound like a good, sensitive teacher. 

16 Jan 2013     

United Kingdom

Tell this little madam where to get off. Re-assert your authority and put her in her place. Teaching such mixed ability is extremely challenging. After a while, soften your attitude and give her some women īs magazines to read and analyse.

16 Jan 2013     


On the one hand this student has assumed the role of defender of the ‘bad’ students,  on the other hand she seems quite happy not to do anything.

I do appreciate the previous answers. Last year I had some similar cases. I found apt material in a particular area of the New York Times:

www.nytimes.com > Blogs (left) > The Learning Network (down) > Student Opinion (right)

Here there are articles on interesting topics followed by questions for the students to discuss. It could also be a writing assignment. 

 Good luck!

16 Jan 2013     


 I entirely agree with Cunliff. Tell her you are in charge of the class and you are the one who manages it. As she is an adolescent it is clear that she prefers having the students agreement than yours. She wants to be the "saviour" of the bad students. Don īt let her.  If she doesn īt want to do what you tell her to, she must be "punished". Instead of being in class, send her to the school library, for the period of one lesson or two, to do a research on a topic you assign her .

Don īt let her cause that discomfort in you! Try not to show her how much her attitude affects you. Tell her you understand that she wants to be the bad guys īpretty girl, but there are limits...

Good luck to you!

16 Jan 2013