A satisfied mind.

So I think this weekend I hit some sort of I'm-taking-my-ball-and-going-home barrier. Just didn't want to deal with the staring and the humiliating myself anytime I want to buy/eat anything, and I felt like absolute shit. After hiding inside yesterday, when Mike even came over and brought me cigarettes so I didn't even have to go for that, and sleeping a ton, I feel a lot better. I told Coteacher that after this weekend I was happy to be back at work, and then surprised myself later by meaning it.

The boys are starting to open up more in class, as I'm getting more assertive and starting to shut them up/address the slapping each other in the face/retrieve stolen sandals all myself instead of relying on the Korean coteachers to do it for me. The big scandal of today was when I pulled two boys out from the table by the back of their chairs simultaneously to retrieve a stolen pencil case. Very strong teacher. Yes, you're right. I've even found that making the boys read their answers aloud in class isn't such a bad idea after all, as long as you go after the ones that are raising hell during the lesson. And the funny thing is, the Korean coteachers have even picked up on this move and started using it themselves instead of arms raising or kneeling for prolonged periods of time. I'm quite proud. My voice is a bit raw after shouting, "HEY!" at ear-splitting volume at least once in every class. The looks on their little faces were priceless, but I didn't have to do it more than once or twice. It feels good not to have to look to my coteacher to wrangle them into their seats so I can explain the difference between, "What do you want to be?" and "What do you want to do?"

There was a confusing display at lunch, however, as I'm still trying to navigate the social waters. It's not that Koreans have such a mystifying way of interacting, so much as I can't understand what's being said and I have no interpretation of tone and the body language is different, so it's not as easy for me to pick up on the nuances of a situation. Basically, Mr. K and Mr. L came down to meet me in the hall for lunch, and Mr. K waved us on to the cafeteria before Mr. No Name arrived -- usually we wait for everyone. When we got there, instead of taking one of the end tables with four seats, Mr. K chose three chairs at the end of a full table. When Mr. No Name arrived two minutes later, he had to take a seat at an empty table by himself. Mr. K didn't even look up, but Mr. L gestured to me that we should move to sit with him, and so I did. Mr. K didn't move -- he finished his lunch alone and left without saying goodbye. I'm not sure what that's about, but I hope whatever it is is worked out soon, because I'm supposed to go out with both of them on Wednesday. Mr. L seemed confused as well, so at least I'm not alone.

1 comment:

Tuttle said...

Love the first sentence of this post! It's very important to have a sense of humor about this experience. I know you got kind of worn out in just waiting to come, but now you're here, enjoy it. Who cares if people stare? I make funny faces at them. No, I really do--my stupid human trick is I can make my eyeballs roll in opposite directions.

About the lunch thing, I'm betting Mr Wan is the oldest member of the group, right? As you know, Koreans put a lot of stock in seniority--he was probably a bit offended, but mainly too senior to deign to move. Either that or he hates Mr No Name.

To control my classes, I use a big red stopwatch with a 4 cm high digital readout. Got it at E-Mart. My classes are fifty minutes long. I start the stopwatch at the beginning of class. Each time I have to wait on students to be quiet after I call them down--I won't yell or try to talk over them--I simply stop the stopwatch. It makes a beep. When they are quiet and all looking at me, I beep it again to resume time, and begin speaking.

Class ends when the stopwatch reads 50:00. For the first few weeks, students lost a couple of minutes (some classes several minutes) of their break time between classes but now it is a non-issue. Most of the time, I simply have to gesture toward the watch, and the classes go silent. Like clockwork.