Sign language.

Since we're in that awkward week that happens long after everyone has stopped giving a shit, and right before graduation on Friday, and I'm sick to death of showing movies and playing games, and all the temp teachers are gone, so all the boys are back in one massive pan-level class together, I'm teaching the boys sign language this week. I thought it might be a complete disaster resulting in total chaos. Instead, it's resulted in a hilariously absurd level of concentration. Even my first graders who tend to be completely animalistic in nature, and who I am lucky to keep from falling out a window on any given normal day, are sat in their desks staring at me intently, moving their hands with a level of intensity and caution that's almost awkward for their personality type. It's cracking me up.

It's also cracking me up that they can't work out that, facing them, I am doing things backwards from the way they need to be doing them, and that I have to turn around with my back to them and hold my hand out on some letters before they can get it right.

I don't know. Teaching kids is a constant source of wonder about human nature. But I should've known that anything so visual and physical would captivate them. It was the same when we did body parts and they're eyes were glued to me the entire class period, as they silently touched each of their own body parts in turn, matching me gesture for gesture, even though it hadn't even occured to me to suggest for them to do so. It's just further evidence that kids at that age aren't meant to sit passively in chairs and absorb information audibly alone. I'm having very little issue with classroom managment this week, and have scarcely had to utter the words "be quiet" or "settle down". Which is nothing short of a miracle in recombined classes the last week of school.

It's good. I'm looking forward to today. And, after visiting my lovely little Taeyoung at the study room last night and having a great hour-and-a-half session with his brilliant little enthusiastic attitude, I've fallen right back into place. It's going to be really hard, come October, if I am expected to move on to a new school in a new location and a new situation. But I imagine I'll eventually adjust.

One other little note: The boys kept losing their shit every time I said that they needed to leave "no space" between their fingers on certain signs. Whenever I asked them to explain what was so funny, they would just look up at me and repeat, "No space! Hahahahaha!" I finally asked a coteacher about it, and she told me something I should've realized myself. "No space" is exactly how they pronounce the brand name Northface in Korean. Why is that hilarious? That part remains a mystery. I guess in the same way that "terrible" is hilarious because it sounds like "terror bomb" and the graphic for the sign for the letter Y is hilarious because it only has four fingers. Who fucking knows.


Roboseyo said...

sounds like you need to crack some books on "TPR" English teaching (Total Physical Response - a teaching method that attempts to engage the body in gestures to help crystallize learning) - it's not the newest method, but it might really enhance your lessons.

I'm no Picasso said...

I think I need to crack some books on a lot of things.

The thing is, I get used to teaching the third graders who are too cool for absolutely everything and worry that activities like that will get sarcastic sighs and eye rolls. But I forget that there's a big difference between a thirteen year old boy and a fifteen year old boy, and the thirteen year olds are still completely on board.