Today was full of, "Teacher here! Present!" which means my pockets ended up overflowing with the last pieces of taffy in a packet, little squares of gum, cough drops and choco pies. God bless 'em. Yesterday was a rough day, because it's always a rough day at a boys' school when the weather gets stormy. I mean that literally. If we start out with sunshine in the morning, but there are dark clouds by lunchtime, you can be sure the teachers are going to be wandering around praying for shelter. They're worse than wild animals when it comes to how tied their unified moods are things such as that. They get full of beans when a front is moving in, and yesterday was a top-quality example.
The private school teacher made a "joke" at lunch that she has to "punch" the students to make them respect her. I'm not too sure how much of that was actually a joke, but I didn't laugh. If I see anyone ever punch one of my students for any reason, they'd better be following that with a quick duck. Not on. I've come around to a lot of the corporal punishment I've seen since I've been here in the ROK, and I myself was raised with a strict and very active "spare the rod, spoil the child" policy. But the point of corporal punishment is that it is controlled -- it is never administered in anger or with emotion. If it is, in my opinion, it crosses the line over into abuse. And that's not something that has any place in a school, or anywhere else, for that matter. Almost all of the teachers I've worked with thus far have had a clear understanding of that. They've even gone so far as to explain to me, being the magnae of the bunch, that even lecturing when you feel genuine anger is not appropriate. In order to punish adequately, you have to remove yourself from your emotion first. If you are not able to do that, you pull in another teacher who is not involved in the situation to handle the matter until you are. That is their way of doing things, and they, in my opinion, are 100% right on this one.
You flip your shit, and your shit is flipped. If you know what I mean. And no one can properly run a classroom (or anything else) with their shit flipped. It's not a respectable state to be in.
The A Level Assholes have come out swinging this week. They're getting a real kick out of rising to the bar I keep moving higher and higher for them. And it's only going to get more intense. They are separated out from weaker classmates now, so I don't have to worry about keeping it all together and leaving anyone behind. I can push them -- hard. I explained to them this week that their younger brothers in grade 2 were able to stand in front of the class empty-handed and answer seven questions in English when I asked them, after being given five minutes to prepare.
But Teacher how can remember five minutes?
Because they aren't remembering, boys. They are speaking. There is a difference, and you are at the level where we need to start working on that difference. Which means this week, you're answering questions I just gave you on a worksheet. Next week, there's going to be an extra question that wasn't on your worksheet. The week after that, there will be two or three. Get ready.
Because we're working up to a chapter about opinions, and by the time we get there, I want them to be prepared to have a debate. That means they're going to be speaking spontaneously in English to give their side of things, and responding to each other's opinions spontaneously as well. I was able to pull this out of my third graders last year in their mixed classes, and they were not nearly at the level these boys are at. It was a one-word-at-a-time ordeal, but it was the most thrilling week I've ever had teaching, because those boys realized for the first time the power of being able to understand and speak a foreign language on the spot. It was one of the only weeks I've had so far where I didn't have to rein (!) everyone in and call the class to attention every five minutes, because they were all fixated completely on what was coming next. I have high, high expectations for these boys on this one.
Today we had a fun little lapse in curriculum in a B class, as they were working on their group activities. One of the students saw me read a name off of a name tag and write it down in English, and turned to his friend and said in Korean, "The native teacher can read Korean?" I looked up at him and said, "Of course."
OH. MY. GOD. She understood what I said!
This captured the attention of the entire class, and the student proceeded to quiz me in Korean for a few minutes, with everyone watching. I answered each question in English, but I answered correctly.
I'm studying too, guys. I can understand how you feel. I know how hard it is.
The final question was how long I had been in Korea. You know how long I've been in Korea, guys. I've been here since the day before the day I met you. What are you talking about? Crazy boys...
They had decided that, since I could read and understand some Korean, I must have been here a long time before I came to their school. I told them that a. Korean is a lot easier to learn to read than English and b. I have a chance to practice all the time -- it's not the same as it is for them. I should speak a lot more than I do. But I will keep trying, and they have to keep trying, too. Which means, stop asking me questions in Korean and get back to work on your projects.