All I do is write about my students.

It's snowing. Not cool.

Oh, today was really a day. They got me running all over that damn building. To give an idea of what I'm up against, I'll just give a basic outline of what has happened to our English program. All classes have been combined two at a time into one large group, that one group then being split into three levels -- A, B and C. So, there are two classrooms available during class time, and one of each of the three groups takes an EOZ classroom. Apparently who is in which keeps changing. And I've been given an old schedule to work with. To top this all off, whether willfully or out of sheer confusion, when I walk into a classroom and say, "B beon?", the little cherubs within will respond in the positive, whether they are indeed B class or not.

During my class with MJ Oppah today, the computer spazzed out and wouldn't allow me to open my ppt file. MJO worked dutifully at the computer while my beautiful second graders leaned forward in their seats, gripping the edges of their desks, desperately trying to understand the six questions they were supposed to be asking and answering with each other, which were full of brand spanking new vocabulary, without any visual aid whatsoever, other than their foreign teacher flailing her arms wildly and visibly cringing. God bless 'em. I've got a shtick -- I know how to make this work, with the right preparation. I've learned, slowly over time, how to give the right cues to make things click, even when they are all in the target language. When my plan tanks, for whatever reason, however, I flounder terribly. I can get the general idea across, but I can't see those little light bulbs pop up over their darling little heads all over the room, which just sinks me further and further into distress.

MJO, being the absolute life-saving god that he is, somehow managed to get the program up and running and within five minutes everyone knew exactly what was going on, and we were back on target -- we even finished in time for the bell. At the end of class, I collapsed onto the podium. MJO leaned over and asked, "Are you okay?"

"Oh. I hate computers. I hate everything. Oh my god."

He laughed. "It's okay. You did well."

My A Level Assholes have been further reigned in by the introduction of a technique I've been using with the second graders for some time now -- The Special Chair. The Special Chair sets at the front of the room, right next to the podium, facing out toward the class. If a student decides he wants to be Special, he gets to sit in The Special Chair. So far, I haven't had to carry through with the threat. Just the idea settles them into a respectful 'answer only the question that's being asked without Bogarting and turning class into your personal comedy hour' demeanor.

Most of my C classes are pretty subdued, but I've got one that is absolutely bursting at the seams with pure comedians. They are loads of fun -- I absolutely look forward to spending my precious 45 minutes with them, but god they can get a bit out of hand at times. I think they are completely tormenting the private school teacher, because she doesn't show up for that class until it's nearly over. They always ask, "Teacher Korean teacher where?" I dunno, kiddies. But we don't need her anyway. Don't worry about it. Today they told me her face was a mess. Not in so many words, or any words, really. They just said, "TEACHER! Korean teacher pace-uh --" (swirling hand around in front of face to indicate the situation) "-- ugh!"

Guys. Remember how we talked about being gentlemen last week? She's your teacher, not your girlfriend. Get over it. I don't even want to know what they say about me.

Today, we had one guy who just could not get it together. First he was squeezing his deskmate's face into all kinds of contortions, sticking his fingers up his nose, which was distracting me from my lecture sufficiently enough that I had to put a stop to it right away. I moved him to the desk directly in front of me. At which point he started somehow contorting his legs in a manner which allowed him to kick the students directly behind him. So, without stopping the listen-and-repeat drills, I pulled his desk around next to the podium to face the class, and then pulled his chair (with him in it) around behind it. He sat quietly for a moment, contemplating the new situation he found himself in, and then started eyeballing the mouse to the computer which was just within his reach. "Ya! Touch it and die."


"You touch. You die."

Oh, lord. The whole class was in stitches. We should take this show on the road and make some real money.

He escaped to another group during the activity, so then he got to be Teacher's Twin -- I linked arms with him and carted him around from group to group, consulting him about each question the other students had. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Teacher. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Teacher."

"That's nice, but it's too late. Now, what do you think? If Jeonghee is interested in baseball, then what does he like to do?"

They're getting bigger by the day. I was kaui-baui-bo-ing with Seokhee in the office after school yesterday, and I noticed that his hands were absolutely monstrous. "YOUR HANDS ARE HUGE! Oh my god... you boys are getting too big..."

"They're not that big?" He said it like a question, as he held them out in front of him, giving them a once-over. "Here. Let me try your hand...."

I held mine up against his. His was easily double the size of mine, and I'm not a small person, at 5'7 1/2. Ridiculous. Their shoes overrun the shoe cubbies in the EOZ, sticking out halfway.

We're keeping it together. I'm learning more names than ever before, and the boys have more respect for me once they can see that I understand their lazy answers in Korean, although I still turn around and say, "You're right. Now, in English."

I fear for the state of my Korean. At this rate, I don't know that I'll ever be able to understand or sound like anything other than a teenage boy shouting at his friend about something inane or ridiculous. With the students, I feel almost fluent. At the lunch table with the other teachers, I feel lost and insufficient.

Today, on my walk home from school through the back alley, I came across a real little bastard from my third grade last year. He was surrounded by a pack of high school boys, all of whom were standing and squatting in a circle, in their uniforms, smoking -- in broad fucking daylight. He jumped up and greeted me with my first name.

"You. What do you think you are doing. All of you. What is this."

The little bastards didn't even pause or attempt to hide what was going on.

"Everybody can see you. Take it to the mountain."


"Everybody can see you." (Hand gestures miming my meaning.) "Go to the mountain. San."

"Oh... yeh...."


"..... Are you crazy?"

Tkkuhkuhkuhkuhkuh! So funny!

It's not going to be so funny when somebody's momma catches your little asses out here, acting like you own the world, boys. Better smarten up.

1 comment:

The Korean said...

And people doubt the necessity of corporal punishment. :)

My father has been a teacher of some type or another all of his life. One of his favorite stories is about how he would carry a baseball bat, walked around the school when he did not have class, and just cracked the heads of any young kid in the street, no questions asked -- because, if you are a kid, what are you doing on the streets during school hours?

But of course, that was in mid-1970s.