So, I'm a douchebag (and extremely, extremely exhausted) and I managed to leave the apartment this morning without the movie that was my lesson plan for today. Luckily, yesterday I had already prepared a lot of small things to do next week, including all of the necessary items for making PB&J sandwiches (a lesson on command forms).
Over and over and over again I am struck by two things out of my students:
1. Despite the general nonsense behavior, how careful most of them are not to do anything without asking permission. I've heard a lot of EFL teachers complain about students ransacking their desks, stealing candy right in front of their faces, or going through their bags/phones. My boys won't touch anything that's on my desk, even if I tell them to -- I have to move it to a table first. And if I put something in front of them, they make sure they've heard the English for "it's okay to touch this now" before they move a muscle. They won't even eat the candy I've been giving out for winning games this week until they've asked permission -- every single time. And no game begins until Teacher says, "Go!"
Learning their names, I think, and having them in such small groups has had a strong effect on them -- that, or else I just have a really, really good group for camp. I dunno. I'm used to doing things myself and feel really bizarre about the boys cleaning up my classroom, running errands for me or carrying things. I don't ever ask them to do these things. But these boys do it all voluntarily. Teacher doesn't stay after to clean everything up by herself -- she's practically shoved out of the way while the boys do it all. And they carry everything down to my office for me now (since I don't have a classroom anymore) as well.
2. How grateful they are for the smallest things. I've touched on this before, with how touched they were with my wishes for good luck on their exams and a happy Christmas. I've only seen that exponentially expanded during camp. Knowing my boys and their habits of coming to class with nothing but their beautiful smiles, I made sure to buy and bring in enough notebooks for everyone. The looks on their faces when I called them each up to my desk the first day to choose one from the pile were absolutely priceless. "Teacher, for me?" Fucking hell. Melt my hear, why don't you?
On the first day of camp I asked the boys what English language musicians they like. One of my older boys mentioned "Let It Be", so the next day I brought in a burned copy of one of John Lennon's albums for him. You'd think I'd presented him with the keys to a Porsche.
And it was the same today with the PB&J. They were simply astounded. It was so surprising to them that -- after we had finished the lesson on command forms, and I had taught them all of the necessary vocabulary, and then we went through the instructions one by one, with them making the sandwiches -- they all sat with their plates in front of them staring at me.
"Well? Don't you want to eat them?"
"No. We will throw them in the trash now. Yes, for you."
"Chincha? Oh, Teacher thank you!"
And both classes were greatly concerned that Teacher wasn't eating a sandwich herself. But this seems to be a general Korean culture thing, as far as I can tell -- the "what did you eat last night (this morning/this weekend/yesterday/an hour ago)/what are you eating/aren't you eating/why aren't you eating/here eat some of this" thing.
Of course, there was loads of nonsense that went on during the making/eating of the sandwiches as well, including a lack of patience that led to the decision to "pour" the jelly instead of waiting for the knife, which was, at the moment, occupied in the process of peanut butter spreading. I told them not to do it. I tried to explain that the inherent gelatinous nature of jelly does not lend itself well to pouring, but they just wouldn't listen. Now there are going to be some very confused mothers when they go to do the laundry this weekend.
One kid also refused to blow his nose on a napkin (there were no tissues at hand) because it was "pretty".
The ADHD kid had a fucking fit because a dab of jelly got on the peanut butter slice of bread before he had put the two together. So one of the older boys, in a show of gallant valor, put a smear of jelly on his peanut butter slice as well, to show the kid that it really was okay. "SEE? That's okay!" Excellent English. A grand spirit of solidarity then swept through the room, and all of the other boys added a drop to their peanut butter slices as well.
Ah. If I could only have them six at a time, all the time.
Well, I don't know if they're actually learning anything. But they're speaking far more English than I've ever heard anyone do in my regular classes, and they seem to be having an alright time.
I did gain some insight into my "high"/"low" divisions today, though, when I asked the boys about their weekend plans. My morning class -- the "high" boys -- informed me that tomorrow is more classes. And then asked me if we would have English camp tomorrow.
Ahniyo, my little darlings. Sunsengnim is exhausted. Even God needed at least one day to rest.
When my second "low" class came in, I asked them what they would do tomorrow. Sheepish grins, blushing and the burying of faces in friends' necks.
Uh. Okay. Will you study tomorrow?
Confused faces. "Teacher, tomorrow Saturday!" Yes, angels, I'm aware of that -- are your parents?
"Okay. What will you do, then?"
For me, there is no discernible difference between the levels of my two classes. In fact, because the low class was smaller from the start and I have made more of an effort with them (because they were so goddamn sheepish in the beginning), they are more comfortable with me, and therefore appear to speak even more English. But I'm going to go with my hunch here and assume that the first class tests better. And therefore, they are the high class.
Anyway, what a boring little space on the internet this has become. But I warned you all from the start -- my job is, first and foremost, what I am here to do.
And now, I am going to go to bed and not come back out until I absolutely cannot stand being there anymore.