As I left the school for a well deserved break, it was about 12:30 and I had yet to eat lunch, I came up the teaching director of the school shouting at someone in her office. While this might seem a common occurrence at most school, it isn’t at ours. I have never seen the TD shouting at anyone. The school is a family-owned affair. The TD’s sister is the manager, the grandmother and great-aunt also work there and all of the kids go to this school.
I had to get my coat out of the office, so I waited a couple of minutes for the shouting to die down. She was violently angry, repeatedly hitting the desk. I had also seen that she was shouting at her son, who is my fourth grade class.
I’ve taught the kid for two years and I had noticed that he was getting cheeky in class. I was worried about him, but there’s not much I could do. He did all of his work, spoke English very well, but was lazy, talked a lot in Chinese, and was a bit of a dick at times. I could see him just becoming one of those annoying kids that you meet almost everyday. It was too bad, because the kid is smart.
The Chinese teachers knew what was up, but wouldn’t tell me anything, yet so I pumped my own students for information. It turned out that the Jo, the kid in question, had stolen some pencils from the other kids.
That’s not something unusual. An incident like this had just happened in my grade 2 class, and it was quickly dealt with by the parents and teachers. It’s something that happens in classes.
Miffy told me that he had stolen more than one pencil from other kids in the class. Later that day, right after lunch, the TD came into the grade 4 classroom and started shouting some more. Apparently, she had opened Jo’s pencil box and had asked the kids to take their pens, if some of theirs were inside of it. Vicky, Coco, Justin, Stone, and other found their pencils and pens in there.
Things were starting to look as going from bad to worse.
I learned that my co-teacher had been fielding calls from angry parents last night and that they had basically told her that Jo was bullying their kid in class, taking his stuff, throwing garbage at him, hiding his jacket, and more tricks.
As days past, more and more revelations came to light and Jo was conveniently absent from class. He was even absent from his Chinese school, as most of the kids go to the same school and it had boiled over there as well.
The girls in my grade 4 class told me that he took their stuff, hid it from them, repeatedly and lied about it. There was a systematic quality to this, that was disturbing.
Coco told me that she thought he was bad and that her mom thought that he would probably change English schools. Instead of shushing it up, like the Chinese teachers, I brought it into the open with my students, thanks to the fact that my co-teachers are never in the classroom at the same time, busy with their own tasks.
Miffy and Coco told me that he wasn’t like that in grade 3. He turned bad in grade 4, and that’s because his mom isn’t the CT. He probably felt like he could do anything, because his family owned the school.
The kids talked about bullying and I mentioned how I had solve a problem that Coco had had last year, without involving anyone else, and they agreed that they could talk to me about such things, and I encouraged it because they need someone to talk to.
I don’t know if Jo will come back to class. The loss of face alone for the family running the school was pretty severe. To have the prodigal son turn out to be a kleptomaniac and bully was not something they expected.
It had gotten bad enough that Jo’s brother Andrew, a K1 student, didn’t want anything to do with his older brother anymore.
He’s missed two classes, but I’ve seen him at school every day since the incident. I don’t know if he’ll be back. If he would have stayed, I would have had to take the unusual resort of punishing a grade 4 student, something that almost never happens, at least in my class. It happens all of the time in the grade 2 class.