Just survived my second day of teaching, though today, thankfully, was a day spent observing the other Korean English teachers in their classes.
For those who know me, you know I have zero experience teaching, other than the three years I spent tutoring a Thai woman in English. But, believe me, that sweet 60-year-old Thai woman was a piece of cake compared to standing in the front of a classroom of 12 Korean youngsters who think either, 1) you are an alien, beamed down from above right in front of them with eyeballs bulging from silver springs and green skin or, 2) you hung the moon, and then were beamed down with springy eyeballs, green skin and a strange language.
On my first day of teaching on Monday, a few boys ran in the classroom, saw me, then pretended to fall in the floor as their eyes set their sights on their first white person. While they like to pretend Whit and I have come from another planet, I am finding out that several of my students have traveled to the United States. Oh, and one saw George Bush. The other saw Brad Pitt. Oh and one girl has taken the English name Condy. “You mean Candy?” I asked. “No Condy,” the smart-looking girl with wire-rimmed glasses said. “Like Condoleezza Rice,” she added.
While they are like other kids all over the world, I do think they are most likely smarter than American children, but I really have nothing to compare it too. But they sure like to tell stories, true or not, they like to fidget with their Hello Kitty pencil boxes (just like the ones I used to carry!!!) The boys like to be bad and the girls like to be sweet. “I fight with my brother but I don’t hate him,” one girl wrote in her “About Me” worksheet.
One girl stopped me mid-sentence yesterday to comment on my eyes…”they’re just so big. Blue. Beautiful!” she said with quiet reverence. (Note to self: A+ for this girl.)
Today I was told I was pretty and beautiful (despite the fact I was asked on Monday how much I weighed.)
Whit and I are like celebrities at the school. We can’t walk down the hallway without hearing “TEACHER! TEACHER!” and receiving high-fives and shy smiles and lots of heellllllllll—-oooos!
We are still trying to get into our groove, and since we are the first foreign English teachers at this school, it has been a learning experience for all involved. The school finally seems to be figuring out what they want from us, and the other Korean English teachers seem to be accepting us.
Everyone is so helpful to us, walking us to school in the morning, showing us how to eat lunch, and translating every time we need to call them after work to ask another silly question. “How does our washing machine work? How do we get the air conditioning to stay on?” and so on.
I think it’s a great thing to experience how helpless one can be with a language barrier. It makes you realize how genuinely kind people can be, and how important good communication is.