Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Welcome to Korea, now contain these children.

After two weeks of blurry jet lagged training, I got thrown into what we call Intensives.  These classes run each day for a month when the Korean kids have a break from their usual Korean school.  (I'm really, really glad my mom didn't make me go to school during my summer break, by the way.)  I was in charge of these three 40-minute long storybook classes.  Each class went through one book each week.  I love children's stories, and i generally like kids, but these classes were ridiculous.

Now I'm able to look back with a fondness, but back in the day (that would be August), these kiddos were shaving years off my life with their lovable rambunctious antics.

I had these kids first thing in the morning.  Su Hyun, Daniel, David, Amy, and Tony was out that week because he was hanging out in America.  Seriously.

Having this class first eased the blow the rest of the classes left.  In fact, the insanity gradually grew as each new class period begun.  These kids were good kids.  They listened, responded (for the most part), and the two girls were the sweetest.  In fact, I think I'd win the argument that Su Hyun is the best behaved girl in SLP.  I still see her in the halls occasionally, and she always beams at me and gives me some of the snack she has in her hand.
Class #2.  More kids, less teacher control, but more teacher apathy, too.  We had Robert Munsch stories for this class.  His books are great, but they do not last long when you're reading them.  They surely don't last for a whole week.  We watched lots of videos, played lots of games, and acted out the stories to take up time.  They loved acting out Something Good.  The girl in the pink dress, Michelle, loves attention, and, when everyone else pretended to be shy, she jumped into the lead role and won the hearts of the audience (myself).
Meet the terrors.
From top left going clockwise: Jason, Gundam, Oscar, Harry, and that's Andy in the middle.

Each of these classes had two other teachers while I was occupied with one.  All of us agreed.  We hated this class.  Yes, I sound like a terrible teacher.  The thing is, one on one, these kids aren't too terrible, but, put the together and they are the embodiment chaos.  One of the kids, James, is missing from our class photos.  I forget why he was absent, and I didn't care why he was absent, I was honestly just glad that there was one less boy to try to harness.

Every chance they'd get, they stuck out their fingers and pretended to shoot each other.  They made sound effects with their mouths and acted fairly realistically when they got shot with machine guns.  I never thought I'd be saying things like, "You can't shoot the teacher" and "No guns at the table!"  I certainly never thought I'd have to say them multiple times in 40 minutes.

I got to monitor the kids, not only for the storybook time, but also for a 20 free-for-all break and for their 40-minute lunch.  As soon as they were finished eating their food, they ran to the blocks, perfected their bazookas, and had at it.  If it wasn't war game, it was "James is a zombie."  I've heard a lot about how boys need to be boys, but I never thought they'd want to be boys ...like this ...all the time.  It was exhausting.

They would all be playing during every spare moment and also during class.  If you were listening outside my classroom door, you'd hear "Andy! Stop kicking Oscar!" "Oscar, pay attention, please."  "James! What did I tell you about guns at the table!" "Gundam, stop interrupting everybody!"  "Oscar, I need you to pay attention."  "James, speak up, please."  "Andy!  No sir!  Feet off the wall!"  "James, what the heck are you doing?!"  "Andy!  Stand outside until I tell you to come back in!"  "Oscar!  Pay! Attention!"
I swear, only 10 minutes of that class was anything close to learning English.

Would you believe it, though?  They each had their endearing qualities.  Now I love getting to see them in the hall on their way to their regular classes.  Gundam's constant interruptions make me smile to think how conversational and curious and engaging he is.  James taught me how to make the machine gun sound when I asked.  Andy was a wealth of entertainment with his painted fingernails, beach-wear shorts, and... a purse that his grandmother sent with him to school.  Oscar, well, he has a cute smile when he's not just staring into space with his mouth gaping open and his nose wrinkled up to keep his glasses on.  And James.  Always the sweetheart.  Always the first to sit nicely.  Always the one eager to help with dishing out lunch.  The kimchi lover.  Oh yes, he has my deepest friendship for being some kind of balance in that class.  He is still all boy, but there are glimmers of something else there.

Here's what I mean.  For lunch, we got containers of food, trays, spoons, and chopsticks.  I always let the boys help set things out, and they usually enjoyed getting to be a part of that, and I took the chance to rest my mind a little as I handled the big hot things and they squirreled around the room with the tongs and the kimchi.  Midway through the month, lunchtime started to get more chaotic when our lunch set started getting a couple smaller spoons mixed in with our silverware.  Apparently, these were baby spoons, and, apparently, Gundam would rather die than be left with one.  He pitched a winy, cry baby fit every time the baby spoon landed at his tray.  Near the beginning of this saga, I took the baby spoon because I didn't want to deal with the issue.  He remembered that and tried to switch with me on later occasions.  Here's where James stepped in.  He knew the spoons had been doled out.  He knew that it wasn't a big deal for Gundam to get the baby spoon.  But he knew that it was not right for the teacher to get the baby spoon.  He argued and fought with Gundam to make sure that I kept the regular spoon.  Did you catch that?  James defended my honor.  A 7-year-old!  Already practicing chivalry!  And already winning girls' hearts.
These pictures pretty much sum things up.

Intensives were a crazy time, but a good and usually fun experience.  I sure did come out of it with some great stories.

1 comment:

  1. Would it be lame to say I kind of know what you mean?

    I'm glad you like your kids, even though they are, of course, exhausting.

    I'm proud of you.


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