New year, new Jjang Crew.

The thing is, now I'm back teaching third graders. Who are still kind of second graders in my mind, but quickly adjusting themselves by springing up inches by the week and startling the shit out of me during listen-and-repeat by suddenly sounding like the army, rather than a pack of mice.

Everyone knows I love third graders best. The first half of the year when I get to teach them is always my happiest. The first graders are cute as shit, but you can't play with them on the same level. The issue of English comprehension aside, they're too young to catch some jokes and too sensitive to take them in the spirit in which they are intended sometimes. I like third graders because they're tougher, more ornery and quicker on the uptake.

Yesterday afternoon, some massive West Side Story fucking bullshit was meant to go down between about 20 of our third graders, and 20 third graders each from two other neighboring junior highs. Duking it out to see who the top Jjang for the year is going to be. I don't really have anything else to say about that, because it's just kind of, as my co-teacher put it today, "cute". The Handsome PE Teacher caught wind of what was going on before it could actually erupt into anything (much to the students' relief, I'm sure) and broke it all up. I hear this year's Jjang is quite benevolent and well-liked by the other students, although, as is always the case with the Jjang, he has somehow managed to completely escape my notice until now.

Today, one of the students involved in the fight (in other words, a member of the new Jjang Crew) came into my class about two minutes late. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be much of a big deal, but it's the beginning of the semester and everyone is still on their best behavior. And anyway, you've got to get in there early with the Jjang Crew.

I called him up to the front of the class, and his classmates jeered. I don't normally do that unless someone is just being completely horrible. To get called up to the front straight away is a pretty big deal in my class. I turned him to face outward toward the other students and asked him why he was late. He answered that he had been in the teachers' office talking to his homeroom teacher. Why were you talking to you homeroom teacher?

Uh. Ah. Um.

.... Did you do something bad?

Eyes down.

Student from the back: "Teacher he bad boy!"

"Are you a bad boy?"

His face is going all red, but he's smiling. Because he's realized this is all a bit of a joke and he's not actually in trouble.

Another student from somewhere in the middle: "Baramdoongi!"

"Are you a playboy? Huh?"

At this point he makes toward the door and I yank him back. His face is turning purple, and he hides in his hands with his back turned to the class, who are now coming out of their seats, jeering in both Korean and English.

I turn to the class: "Is he a playboy?"


"How many girlfriends does he have? Three?"




"Ten girlfriends? Oh my god. You must be busy. How did you get ten girlfriends? Hey.... are his girlfriends pretty?"


"All ugly? Half and half?"

"Eight ugly, two so-so!"

"Well... two so-so is not bad."

At this point the kid is sort of straddling the line between laughing and crying. He knows it's funny, but he also kind of wants to die. Which is how you win over the Jjang Crew. The important thing to remember is, you never, ever pull this shit with the actual Jjang. If that happens, you'll have a year long mutiny on your hands. Jjangs are actually very, very fragile you see.

It's good to be back.


The Korean said...

You know I love you even when we disagree :) Also wanted to let you know what an excellent teacher you are for knowing exactly what to do with them boys. Ok, gotta go, don't wanna come off creepy :)

I'm no Picasso said...

Haha, ditto TK. And the thing about creepy is, it's only creepy when it's unwanted attention. So you're alright.