Archive for the ‘student’ Category

Final Friday: Part One

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Club class was cancelled yesterday. I was really sad because I actually really enjoy club class this semester, and all of the students in my club class. Those extra two hours were really beneficial, and with my co-teacher we sat down and figured out exactly which utilities we needed to called and one-by-one checked them off our list and made plans to go pay and cancel each of them on Tuesday. Yesterday the floodgates opened and a deluge of third grade students (8, actually. Hardly a deluge but considering how often they leave their hallway for “superfluous” things, it really was a deluge). In the last two periods, three of my former YDAC girls visited and gave me sweet letters and presents, and we chatted about the future and keeping in touch.

One of my favorite third grade boys who the others call “Gazelle” due to his big eyes and freckles has been visiting me during multiple free break periods, sitting down to chat for ten minutes at a time then running back up to his classroom, then repeating the same process. He started coming to me earlier this year for help with a project he was doing, and now that the project is completed he just enjoys talking to me. He told me that most foreign teachers do their job and do it well, but are not always kind and warm-hearted. The third grade students at CPHS love me because I teach well, but I also care about the students, help them by doing extra work, and always smile. I nearly lost it. At this point two other third grade boys (these students, actually) came in to shake my hand and say goodbye. They looked at Gazelle, shook their heads, and told him not to cry. He told me that he might anyway.

Today I met one of my club class girls – probably my favorite club class student. She’s the one who wrote me this note, and is one of the three second graders in the class. She came in and hovered over my desk and hesitantly asked me if I you knew 미숫가루. I didn’t, so we looked it up on naver dictionaries. 미숫가루 [misutgaru: powder made of mixed grains, roasted and ground grains]. Huh. She then told me to wait a minute, shuffled with something on the ground that I couldn’t see, then ran over to the water cooler. She then came back with a cup full of grain tea. She explained to me how she had made it (two spoonfuls of grain, a spoonful of sugar, water, and a little milk) and nervously watched me drink it. I exclaimed that it was good (because it was) and gave me a 40 gram bag of 미숫가루 that was 국내산 (a Korean-made product), and gave me a sweet letter.

It is not even 9 am. How am I gonna make it through this day?

Coffee and Good Cheer

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Ugh 2.9. 2.9. It’s so frustrating teaching them because anything that works well with any other class flops. They’ve been getting better but even their “better” in my class isn’t great. I lectured the class as a whole, talked to some kids individually, and left class feeling really discouraged when I ran into one of my favorite second graders.

I asked how his day was and he responded “FANTASTIC” with a giant grin on his face, then asked me how I was. Something must have shown in my face, because when I answered “oh I’m fine” he could tell something was up.

“What’s wrong, teacher?”
“Oh nothing. I just want to sleep. Mornings are very difficult. I must go drink coffee.”
“Oh no! You don’t have to buy me coffee.”
“Yes Teacher! I will buy you coffee! Wait a moment please!”

The student thrust his hand into his pockets and then realized that he was wearing his gym uniform, and then hurriedly explained that he could not buy me coffee because he didn’t have any money on him, but that he would buy me machine milk coffee during cleaning period. I assured him that he didn’t have to, but he insisted.

I realize that I haven’t been blogging very much recently. Recently I’ve been slammed with work (both professional and personal), but that doesn’t mean that my life has ceased to be interesting. I’m still having good days and bad days, and more commonly just days with good and bad moments, and though I won’t be here much longer I’ll make renew my effort to write all those moments down, so I don’t forget them when I go.

Grounds Work

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

I saw one of my boys outside today, waltzing around with his broomstick (actually this is a quite literal description as he was holding his broomstick like a dance partner and pivoting in small circles in the courtyard… needless to say little to no sweeping was getting done), and it made me sad. This is one of my lower-level second graders, and I’ve always had issues with him paying attention in my class. Most of the time he just sleeps, stares off blankly into space, or plays with a box-cutter that he always seems to carry. In the fall when I taught his class for the first time, it wasn’t until halfway through that I realized that he couldn’t read English. I’m not sure how this student does in his other classes, but my guess would be not well because I almost always see him outside, doing other activities.

Korean schools for the most part don’t employ janitors. The students take shifts cleaning their homerooms (cleaning the chalkboard, mopping the floors, etc) and cleaning the school’s hallways. From what I’ve managed to gather, it seems that at my high school if a student behaves badly they are sometimes made to do grounds work. I’ve seen my students cutting down tree branches, trimming hedges, sweeping outside, and carting wheelbarrows all the way down to the street full of tree branches (on a side note, while waiting for the bus I’ve also seen a lot of wheelbarrow races, almost all of which end badly… fun to watch though). However most of these activities don’t seem to take place outside of school, they seem to take place during the class period. So, the problem students are removed from the classroom and instead of after-school detention or anything like that, they are made to do grounds work during part or all of class.

While I appreciate that students are taught to respect the space that they’re in (they can’t graffiti the desks because if they do they’ll have to clean it later) it always makes me sad to see students outside during class hours. Especially if it’s one of my lower-performing students, because it seems like it’s a vicious cycle. I always see the same students outside doing labor… instead of it being a punishment for misbehaving it seems to become something for the student to do instead of learning. The student gets further behind, and then continues to behave badly in class because they are performing badly… instead of giving them extra help through after-school detention, forced self-study, paired with a one-on-one talk with the teacher trying to address the problem of why the student is behaving poorly in class, the student is just removed.


Some caveats: I don’t speak Korean, and my class operates a little differently than most of the teachers. Even though I am the main teacher, I have a co-teacher who, due to he or she actually being able to speak Korean, is the main power when it comes to removing students, excusing students for illness etc. Because the majority of my students are really low level, when they come in late or don’t come to class many times I can’t get an intelligible reason as to why without the help of a co-teacher translating my question to the students, and their responses to me. Also my information about all of this is from talking to other teachers and observations, so parts of it may be incorrect. All that I know is I see the same kid outside almost every day sweeping.

The saddest thing about it, was that this was the happiest I’d see him. Then again, I only see him in English class.

Anyone else have a similar situation at their school? It’d be interesting to see if my school is the exception or the norm in this regard.