About My Students

October 20, 2010

Long time no blog. I’m the process of changing everything to a temporary template until I find someone a bit more SEO friendly. In the meantime, please excuse any glitches that pop up. I’m sure the content will remain unaffected, and perhaps more ascetically pleasing.

There are often situations with teaching kids that would make one go insane if you didn’t just look at the ridiculousness of it all. Reminds me of the movie Kindergarten Cop; Arnold Schwarzenegger is, of course, this huge intimidating hunk of muscle facing twenty-odd screaming 6-year-olds. Even he breaks down, first in anger, then in fear. The point being: teachers are bigger, more mature, and clearly stronger than a class full of little kids… why do they have the power to intimidate us so?

Luckily, with enough experience, practically nothing my students do can really shock me. Go ahead and cry. Or just pout. I’m not here to listen to your complaints; I’m here to teach.

My youngest class is pretty out of control, but this wouldn’t be a problem so much if their English levels were the same. As it is, I have one girl and three boys who could stand some more difficult material, and the rest who struggle with basic pronunciation. They’re really big tattlers; the boss and I make it an unofficial policy (because it’s impossible to enforce) not to speak Korean in class, or as my students would say: “Korea talking!” Every two minutes one of them will say “Teacher! Sue Korea talking! Fred Korea talking!” In case you’re unaware, students give themselves western names for their English education.

Sad part is, I understand that part all too well. Seven-year-olds will be seven-year-olds, and we all tattled a little. Still, they can’t seem to understand why I scold them after they do. If they’re not tattling, they’re either not paying attention or just randomly injecting “game!” during a lesson. Again, minus one to those yelling. Only two or three really follow my every word.

The next level up, red, is probably my best-behaved class. Doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the smallest. Although we use the same textbook as the higher-level orange class, I think my red students are better. At the very least, they’re more receptive to me. Two girls in my orange class are just completely unresponsive: yelling, distracting others, etc. One boy and another girl are big, BIG criers. If I mistakenly put them on the wrong team for games or give them anything less than a B on tests, they will lay their heads on their desks and just start pouring from their eyes… ugh. The only policy is to just ignore it.

I guess all my classes have at least one student who dedicates his English education to talking only in Korean and distracting others. Fortunately, the further into the day I go, the higher the English level, and the greater the discipline. By the time blue class rolls around, I can ensure my voice is heard and “respected” by all… more or less.

In any case, here of some more noteworthy conversations with my students:

Me: What does he (your father) look like?
Student: He looks like a pig! He is fat!

On a lesson about world records, my navy class students wouldn’t stop insisting I looked exactly like Joey Chestnut, the hot dog eating champion. Not even close. I wanted to dispel early misconceptions about race, so I asked every single student if he or she looked like someone else in the class (luckily, no one had a twin). “Are you the same? No? Are you the same? Are you the same?”

The addition of a friend drastically changed the classroom personality of one of my orange students. Before, she would not say ONE WORD to me in or out of the classroom. Now, she’s acing her reading tests and participating in exercises and games.

(On a discussion about valuable things)
Me: What is your treasure?
Student: My family.

Should give readers some insight into my days teaching in Korea. Despite the little moments, though, I’m not really doing too well here. I think traveling for so long has just become too common, and I’m tired. I’m tired of putting up with kids, tired of just working to live (even in Asia), and tired of procrastinating “real life”, whatever that turns out to be. Not that I can predict where my Korean experience will end, but I think it just might be time to end it all, and return to the US.

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