Korean coworkers are like grandmothers. At least mine are. They are constantly fussing over me and giving me all kinds of food and other goodies that I don't necessarily know what to do with. Today I walked home with a fucking VAT of kimchi that won't fit in my tiny fridge that someone in the administration office had the cafeteria workers prepare just for me. It's wrapped in a big red ribbon and everything. But I don't know what to do with it....

There's another big cellphone video of a Korean student being beat by a teacher scandal going on over here. I've not seen anything that extreme at my school yet, but there have been a few swats to the head and headlocks I've not felt too comfortable with. The thing is, I'm not going to get all self-righteous and bent out of shape about corporal punishment -- my parents saw it as a completely valid way of disciplining me while I was growing up, but I will say that, across the board in any kind of relationship, I think that if you have to hit someone to maintain their respect, you should probably reevaluate how worthy you are of their respect in the first place. I've found that the best way to get the boys to straighten up and fly right is just to get the other boys' attention and make fun of them a little bit. They get embarrassed and stop horsing around, but they don't go into super defiant sulk mode like they do when the other teachers take a swing at their heads.

That's not to say that I haven't yet had the urge to hit one of the little fuckers. But in my opinion, that's what makes me an adult and them children -- I can control my urges.

Today's first period was a nightmare. Small Coteacher had to have the boys do the hands-on-the-head-eyes-closed-prolonged-lecture thing. The thing is, when I feel in control of my class and the material, they behave much better. Today I was teaching a new lesson for the first time, a bit nervous, and I think the class could sense that. They used it to their full advantage. You take one hesitant pause to check your notes on where you're going next, and the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket. But every week it gets a little bit better, as my confidence grows. There's usually always one kid, too, who will be entirely unamused by the class's antics and tell them all what I imagine is Korean for, "Shut the fuck up." Which I really appreciate.

I have one student who lived in South Africa for seven years, and therefore speaks almost fluent English. He didn't think I remembered that Mr. K had told me that. I was walking around checking exercises, and while most of the class was still trying to figure out what page we were on, he had already finished his. "It's too easy for you, I know. I'm sorry," I told him.

"How do you know it's too easy for me?"

"Because you lived in South Africa for seven years. You didn't think I remembered?"

He smiled. I paid him back by making him read his exercise in front of the class. He didn't want to, but I said, "Please help me?" I tried to make it up to him by telling the class he had a very lovely accent when he had finished, and all the other boys protested that it wasn't fair. It was really nice, anyway, to actually be able to communicate with a student for once.

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