Let me impart a little wisdom from my 7 months as a elementary school teacher. It has felt like an intense training camp in parenting and trickery. These little buggers can make you want to have kids one day and then will kill any parental ambitions you might have had the next. Overall though, it has been very educational.
1. Don’t high five Korean children. This is a terribly new concept to these kids. Most times they take a swing at my hand like they are trying to swat a fly. It hurts and is just uncool. Not only that, but who knows where their hands have been. I cannot believe I haven’t gotten pink eye yet, but I have a cold to prove they aren’t washing them too much.
2. Don’t bring two packs of crayons for 5 children. I should really learn the word “share” in Korean. Watching kids try to share crayons is like watching a pack of hyenas share a gazelle’s carcuss. You might as well guarantee the class a fight.
3. Dont’ yell. My younger sister use to say, “Do you not understand the words coming out of my mouth?” The short answer for the Korean kids is no. There are times that yelling “Quiet” or “Listen” is like screaming “Volkswagon” at the top of your lungs and it generally gets about the same reaction. You end up sounding like my older sister after the New Kids on the Block concert in 1989. (confession: I went too).
4. Never teach a Korean kid a “street” handshake. Right now I have to remember about 5 different handshakes I have taught kids at school. One has been well worth it, as he pays closer attention in my class so we can do the handshake if he is good. But you will find yourself doing it in the cafeteria, in the stairwell, before class or even for the kid’s mom. I am sure these parents think some thug American is teaching her kid a gang handshake. It is a wonder I still have a job.
5. Don’t repeat what the kids say. These kids are forever speaking Korean. There have been times when I have said back to them what they said to me. The reactions can be scary. I am sure whatever I repeated should not have been said in the first place. In my maps class the kids kept laughing everytime I said “Idaho” and “Nevada.” Apparently if you Koreanize these two words slightly they mean “Give me a baby” and “My sea” respectively.
6. Don’t try to explain to your kids why you and your wife of 2 years haven’t had kids yet. I don’t think this really needs explaining, but the kids will ask.