Archive for the ‘first grade boys’ Category


Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

In case anyone forgot that I teach teenagers… this should remind you.

During my “create your dream school” lesson, a group of boys created “Dating School.” There were many interesting aspects of Dating School, but the one that drew the most chuckles from the students during the presentations were the three clubs: night club, dance club, and “how to skinship” club. Skinship, for those of you that don’t live in Korea, is the term that Korean students use to describe physical displays of affection.

After each group presented, I gave the other students a chance to ask the group a question. After a few questions about how pretty the girls at Dating School would be and hemming and hawing, one boy raised his hand and, affecting a serious tone, asked how long it would take to master the skinship club. The group who created Dating School conferred with each other and decided it would take about three years.

Em in Asia! 2013-04-29 02:15:30

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Today I walked into 1.6′s classroom, and they obviously weren’t expecting me. At least half the class jumped out of their seats, then after staring at me for a few seconds turned to each other asking “Potosky? Potosky?” Somehow the whole class nonverbally came to a consensus that yes, Potosky, because then they started chanting “POTOSKY. POTOSKY” while chucking their textbooks onto the ground.

First Grade Shenanigans

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

My first grade boys are making me laugh which is good, because my second graders are almost making me cry. We’ve had so many schedule changes recently which doesn’t bother me normally, but since these schedule changes could affect the date of my last class I’ve tried to stay on top of them. I found out on Friday during first period that next Friday most of the classes were cancelled, which meant that this week was going to be my last class with 2.5 and 2.10. I was really really sad.

It was a good class. I managed to wrap up a lot of loose ends within the class and talk to a fair number of the students one-on-one. Sam was there for that class as well as others, and she managed to meet most of the students I regularly blog about. She also got a fistbump from fistbump kid, and had A NICE LOUD CONVERSATION with THIS KID (who we’ve decided we’re now calling Caps Locks Kid because it just fits).

After class I chatted with one student about Model UN for most of the break period, then went outside to find a student I had seen walking normally just minutes earlier hobbling around with one crutch shoved under his armpit, his walking eerily reminiscent of my friend pretending to be an urchin in Oliver Twist at my sixth grade summer drama camp.

“OH NO WHAT HAPP– wait. You didn’t have a crutch five minutes ago.”
“Haha yes I got you teacher.”
“Which poor student did you steal that from? Can the student walk?”
“Yes” he said, shrugging nonchalantly “he’s fine. This is my secret tool.”
“How is it your secret tool?”
“Teachers see me and they say ‘Oh DG, are you okay? You should rest’ and I say ‘okay’ but really I am okay.” Then the bell rang and he hobbled off, yelling over his shoulder “Goooooodbye teacher!”

It’s hard losing my second graders. I’ve got a teacher facebook set up and I’ve given them all my email, but I’ll still miss them, probably more than they’ll miss me. One student last week started up in her seat and exclaimed that they wouldn’t ever have another foreign teacher. While this is not necessarily true, especially if they take English classes in University or go to a private academy, I am the last foreign teacher they’ll ever have in public school, and for some of them the last foreign teacher ever. I’m the end of a long line of foreign teachers they’ve had that have, hopefully, tried to instill in them a love of English, learning, and cross-cultural exchange. They’re growing up and moving on to bigger and better things, though they have to get through this next year first. At least I get to keep some of my students, though next semester I’ll be wary of students on crutches.


Monday, November 12th, 2012

I rag on the first graders a lot. I complain about them to the other teachers, to my friends, and on this blog. The first graders are not as mature as the second graders, I see them less, they respect me less, they’re younger, etc. However, I do really like the first graders, even if they’re not my darling second graders (and once they finally become second graders, I adore them). I especially like them right around this time of year – they’re settling down but they’ve still got that touch of whimsy that a lot of the second graders as a result of buckling down for the Suneung (there’s a countdown in one of the second grade homerooms – 359 days until they take it) have lost.

Remember this kid? He’s been switching it up. Today he didn’t even ask me how I was. I guess he thinks we’ve progressed past small talk and onto topics of the heart. I was walking around outside after lunch, and as I walked past the soccer field he and another first grade boy broke off from their game and ran towards me.

This Kid to the other kid: 야 왜 인사 했어? 에밀리 쌤에 말하지마! [Hey, why did you greet her? Don't talk to Emily teacher!]
Me: Yes. You told me last week.
Other Kid to This Kid: She loves me best.
Other Kid to me: One day I will marry you.
Me: No, I’m sorry, the age difference is too big. It would be bad.
Other Kid: Age is just… just a-
Me: No… you’ll still be a student. Just a university student.
Me: Yeah. Sorry. Not happening. See you later.

I then ran into one of my club class kids. He was talking with some other first graders, and using his hands to sweep the gorgeous neon yellow ginko leaves into a pile. I asked what he was doing, as he picked up giant armful, and he sheepishly looked at me and replied “Sometimes I am a little crazy” and threw them in the air, grinning as they came raining down on his head.

Em in Asia! 2012-11-06 00:14:30

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

This kid. Everytime I see him, it’s almost the exact same conversation. He’ll scream at me from across wherever, regardless of who else is around, and ask how I am.


I’m fine, how are you?


… I’m also fine.


His friends egg him on, as do all of the teachers. This kid has no fear. His English is lower level than most of the students that choose to talk to me, he’s a half foot shorter than everyone in his friend group, and because he’s a first grader I’ve taught him a grand total of maybe fifteen times, but he’s fierce – a fierce little hipster kid with glasses, a giant muffler, and a cooler version of a bowl cut.

Today I ran into him twice. The first conversation went almost exactly like the one above, shouted at me as I walked into school slightly late this morning. The second conversation happened just now, after lunch, when I was with two other teachers who speak English well.


Haha yes I do. How are you?


[I wait for the "thank you and you, and it doesn't come, rendering me momentarily stunned.]


… Um. Yes. Yes I do. Thank you.


Where are you going now?


Ah, where will you study?


Okay. Good luck! Study hard!


He then went to the convenience store to buy ice cream, not his classroom.

First Grade Boys

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

“HI GUYS! How are you today?”
“Teacher! So excited.”
“Why are you excited?”
“Next class we have computer games class.”

I look at the schedule written on the board.

“You mean you have computer science class and during that class you will secretly play computer games?”
“Yes! Very fun.”

Let’s be real, we all know that if this were the Hunger Games, Jeollanamdo would be district 11

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Class 1.7 is probably my worst-behaved, craziest boys class, but one of my funniest. After class a student told me he was reading Catching Fire (the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy). We chatted for a bit about that and drew a crowd. The students had seen the first Hunger Games movie and, hearing that I thought the second book was really sad, wanted to know if Katniss died.

did Katniss die? DID SHE DIE?
Guys. It’s the second book. There are three books. What do you think? – …KATNISS DIE!
If Katniss died, then who would the third book be about?
Peeta? Oh yes. Katniss die.

Then as I walked out the door, one of my favorite students put three fingers (index, middle, ring) to his lips, and put them in the air – the District 12 symbol of respect.

You can’t keep them all… but at least you can keep some of them

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

The hardest part of my job, harder than classroom management, lesson planning, or editing, is saying goodbye. I only teach first and second grade, so that means that when students become third years, I lose them. Not only do I not teach them anymore, but I don’t haev many chance to talk to them, because they’re so busy and they rarely leave their homerooms.

One of my favorite students last year was a third grade boy. Other than during the D-county English Competition I rarely talked to him one-on-one, but he has a thousand kilowatt smile. I know that the usual saying is a thousand watt smile but you’ve never seen this kid. When he smiles, his mouth become wide and his eyes light up, and you can’t help but grin too.

When I started this semester, as I was halfway through my introduction lesson I was surprised to see almost the same exact smile peering out from one of my new first grade classes. I think I actually stopped talking mid-sentence and stared, before catching myself and continuing. It turns out, thousand kilowatts has a younger brother, who looks nothing like him except for when he smiles. In fact, when I asked this first grader if he had a brother at CPHS, he was surprised that I recognized that they were related. The similarities end with the smile.

My third grade student is sweet, super sweet. Even when he was doing other work in my class and not paying attention (which was rare), when I caught him he’d look up with a big old apologetic smile, close his book, and continue to beam in my general direction. He recently came up to me, shoved a note at me which stated “I cannot speak English well, but I want to become better. Maybe we can practice after the 수능 (entrance exam)?” I told him of course, and asked him when. “Is everyday okay?” Of course, kid, everyday.

His brother, on the other hand, is snarky, cocky, speaks English really well and knows it. He’s the kind of kid that doesn’t walk, he saunters. Instead of bowing when he sees me in the halls, he does a half wave with his hand and an upwards head nod. He’s always talking to people during my class. Self-confidence just exudes from his pores.

Maybe his brother was like that, as a first year. I’ve only taught him as a second-semester second grade student, and any high school teacher who works at a Korean school will tell you that there’s a huge change in students’ attitudes between first and second grade (it’s part of the reason why I like second grade better, as a general rule). I somehow doubt it. This first grader is just saucy, and though his smile is a bit dimmer, (probably a result of being a thousand kilowatt 동생) and has a bit of a bite to it, I can’t help but love him.

Em in Asia! 2012-04-10 02:28:04

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

One of my first grade boys was coughing, so I asked if any of the other students were sick. Most of them just shrugged, or said yeah, except one kid who said that he was homesick, and then asked if that counted.

Yeah kid, yeah it does.

The Coffee Fairy

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I should probably preface this story by saying that in South Korea we (students, teachers, professionals, old people, young people, you name it) drink a whole lot of instant coffee. You can buy it in many forms, in individually portioned and easily portable sticks that contain sugar, cream, and coffee, in big bags of just powder, in individual cups filled with strange flavor combinations (vanilla cappuchino drip mocha coffee) at convenience stores, and most notably in vending machines.

Our school, like every other (high) school I’ve been to, has at least two coffee vending machines. You put in 200 – 400 won (20 to 40 US cents – I’ve found that the more rural you are, the cheaper the coffee – in Changpyeong it’s 200, Yesan it was 300, Seoul it was 400) and choose what flavor you want. A dixie cup drops down and spurts out powder and hot water, and voila! Instant cheap caffeine fix.

Now I normally don’t use the vending machine – I’m a teacher and have my own desk and mug, so I tend to just buy my coffee sticks in bulk and mix there, or have tea like a classy person, but sometimes I want to take a short walk, or I’ve run out of coffee, so I pay the coffee vending machine a visit. 200 won is very cheap but also an awkward amount, so normally I pay with a 1,000 won bill, or a 500 won coin. I like to leave the rest of my change in the machine, so that way when students are on their break and about to put in money to buy coffee it’s like a magical coffee fairy visited and granted them access to the magical world of height-stunting, tongue-scalding, sugary-yet-not-quite-delicious hot beverages. I always make sure to do this when students are in their classes, so no one can chase after me with the change.

Today on my way back from my one class I met two first grade boys by the vending machine. They called me over (Boy A: PODOLSKI!!!! Boy B: Ya! Are you crazy? Call her Teacher! Emily: Guys. It’s Potosky. Pah-tah-ski) and we chatted for a bit about the trip they’re taking tomorrow. They then finished getting their coffee and using the leftover change bought me some as well.

What goes around comes around.