One of the things I did when I started teaching was signing up for several news letters on teaching. I then lost access to my email account for about two months, and ignored it. Today I finally got it back up and running (thanks Tom!), and I'm reading emails from a few months ago that I wish I could have read at the time.
A topic that was being discussed is students falling asleep in class. I've taken the tactic in my teaching that, if a kid manages to fall asleep amongst all the shouting and jumping up and down and everything else that goes on in my class, they're freaking exhausted and deserve the nap. I know how late some of these kids are up, and I have no illusions about the usefulness of my class. It's a fun break for the kids. It might be different if I saw them more often, but one class reminded me that, since I got here, they've only seen me twice.
I remember the last year that I was in school, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Reading other teacher's thoughts about this just brings back why I was falling asleep at the time. I was working two jobs, one full time and one almost full time, and going to school. Most of my classes were in the evenings (before one of my jobs), and were three hours long. I would be biting my wrists, digging my nails into my palms, leaving class every 30 minutes to splash water on my face, and drinking enough caffeine that I could jump start a car or a space shuttle or something, and still couldn't keep myself awake. I would fall asleep anywhere I could sit still for a moment, including the hallways at school. When it was noisy as all heck. One time, as I was taking the bus between jobs, I fell asleep on one bus. I woke up when it got to my stop, realized that I still had about 30 minutes before I would start work, and got on another bus that would bring me back to the same stop 25 minutes later, and fell back asleep. Near the end of my shifts at work I was typically slurring my words. Then I'd go home, sleep for two hours, and start the day all over again.
So, all in all, I have a lot of sympathy for the kids who fall asleep. If they had the language, or I had the language, I'd pull them aside to let them know that it's okay.
What gets on my nerves is when they insist on talking while I'm teaching. And not talking in English, just chatting away in Chinese. I read on one person's site that they tell all their students that, if they're talking during class, he'll assume they have a question for him. I like that idea, and might use it next term. (Paul insists I call it a term, but it's a semster. Really.)
On a related note, Paul and I currently have a debate going on how much of each other's slang we're going to have picked up by the time he goes home in June. Currently I'm losing, as I'm adopting more of his stuff than he's adopting mine. I just love it, though, when we suddenly stop each other to say, "What the heck are trainers?" or stuff like that.
The first night we met, he entertained me for a while by explaining how one would say, "I've sent my children to the nearest store to purchase some carbonated breverage" in all the countries he's been in. I can't remember them all, but in Canada you'd say "I sent the kid to the store to buy a can of pop."
English is so strange.