How was the first month of school, you ask? Well after 6 weeks of teaching in Korea, I can tell you that kids are the same anywhere. They will play tricks on each other, they will cheat when you’re not looking, and they will yell and whine almost constantly. They will also give you winning smiles, work hard for your attention, and work their way into your heart.
I love teaching. And I love the students. Each and every one of them. Sometimes.
I have saved up some funny stories to tell you about a few…
Every teacher has that kid who’s English name is Harry, and who refers to themselves as Harry Potter, and sometimes uses their pencil like a wand. Only in Korea are thick glasses in style- just like Harry Potter’s.
In my youngest class, I have a boy who hums instead of speaking Korean. Speaking Korean is not allowed, and he has to make noise when he tries to communicate. Therefore, while he mimes what he wants, he hums. For example, the other day, he held up his broken pencil and goes “duh dada DUH!” Of course, I immediately understood that he wanted to go sharpen his pencil, but the added theme music was too much! (The Star War’s Imperial March is also in his repertoire, which he hums to himself while doing his homework.)
I have one kid who can’t see, and doesn’t even try to hide it. He shamelessly asks me to read what’s on the board several times so he can write it down… since he can’t see far enough to read the board 10 feet away.
One of my students started telling me about the watermelon with a face he drew while waiting for class to start. I asked for his homework. He said he drew the watermelon instead.
One little boy pretends to stab me with his pencil every time I come close. The kicker is that he has to close one eye to do so.
Then there’s the whole class who gave me a nickname the very first day I taught them. It’s started to spread through the whole school. I guess I should find out what it means sooner rather than later.
Just this past week, I taught a story about hockey to an older, advanced group of students. When you have trouble distinguishing between the pronunciation of an “f” and a “p” sound in English, hockey puck is not the greatest word to say repeatedly.
For a reward before the holiday weekend, I let some of the older kids play dodgeball for the last 10 minutes of class, as long as they spoke English while doing it. The biggest classroom available is still quite small, and when you are a 15 year old boy, the ball takes a fraction of a second from the hand to the target. One of the boys found a string, tied it around his waist, and yelled “Taikwondo!” He started moving around the room in slow motion, chopping the air with his hands and throwing kicks. Miraculously, he did not get hit by the ball. The other team aimed for his teammate instead. Everyone seems to enjoy free entertainment.
Kids will be kids, and although school is usually a loud environment, it’s a happy one.