Despite having spent a year and a half teaching at a Korean public middle school, I retain the belief that my expectations of my students, though perhaps complex, are reasonable and can be understood by even the most challenged child. Though many of these expectations are contingent upon the students' previous 5, 6, or 7 years of life experience, many expectations can also be deduced from environmental cues.
1. Have incorporated into your gestalt the following concept: Putting on my school uniform + walk to the school building + spending the day in said school building + being surrounded by book-toting agemates clad in school uniforms = I am in school.
2. Upon hearing the bell, exhibit awareness that this is a signal that you are to be in a specific location at this time. That location, in this case, is the one designated "English Room." If the experience of the previous several weeks has not made an impression, use your inborn herd instinct to follow the agemates with whom you spend your day surrounded to the appropriate room, arriving in no more time than it takes to walk from the remotest reaches of the building to that room.
3. Presented with rows of desks facing toward front of room, and the sight of agemates becoming seated at said desks, take a seat at one of the desks.
4. Retain some notion from your previous experience that there is an expectation that you arrive in the designated room with certain specific objects, even if you retain no memory of what those specific objects are. Note the presence on some agemates' desks of the English book and a pencil case. Have sufficient awareness to grasp that you, too, probably should have an English book and a pencil case, or at least some manner of writing implement. If you are not currently possessed of the English book and/or writing implement, take action to acquire these objects, if possible. These actions can include going to one's locker to retrieve them or beseeching the loan of a writing implement from one of those school-uniform-clad agemates by whom you are currently surrounded. Perhaps you can even retain a memory of an adult having -- via words, gestures, and presentation of samples of the desired objects -- prompted you to obtain these objects in the past, and can apply this memory to your current situation.
5. Based on your previous experience, reason that there is some sort of expectation that you will devote a portion of your attention toward the front of the room. You can also use the following additional clues to draw an appropriate conclusion as to where your attention should be directed: the orientation of the desks; the presence at the front of the room of a whiteboard; the presence at the front of the room of a Powerpoint screen displaying a page from the textbook that is observable on at least one agemate's desk; and the presence at the front of the room an adult who is evidently demanding your attention. Based on your previous 5, 6, or 7 years of experience, have some recall that this attention is expected even if the adult in question is the funny-looking foreigner that has previously demanded your attention using verbal, gestural, and physical prompts (including manually positioning your head in the desired direction).
6. Based on previous experience in various classrooms and with various adults, along with the funny-looking foreigner's previous verbal, gestural, and physical prompts, grasp that producing loud noises, touching other students, throwing objects, and converting worksheets presented to you by the adult into paper airplanes are not acceptable behaviors.
7. Based on over a decade of life experience in a variety of settings, including the school setting (See Expectation #1.), exhibit a grasp of the fact that books in general, and the books deployed on the various booksheves in the English Room in particular, are intended for reading purposes only. Exhibit an awareness that books are never to be utilized as makeshift frisbees or hockey pucks.
8. Based on previous experience, and the obvious displeasure displayed by the foreign adult, exhibit an awareness that desks are not intended to recieve marks of any kind from pencils, pens, markers, or Wite-Out; nor are they to be deliberately stressed beyond their obvious design limits to the point of metal fatigue and evental collapse.
To me, these expectations are perfectly reasonable, if not obvious to the point of self-evidence. Strangely enough, the students who are legitimately mentally disabled seem to have no difficulty in complying with these expectations. However, to many of my ordinary students, these expectations seem to be mysterious foreign concepts, incomprehensible to the Korean mind. In any given class, anywhere from 10% to 75% of these ordinary students exhibit veritable astonishment every time these expecations are reiterated.
Perhaps it is I who am the one incapable of learning from experience.