Archive for the ‘students’ Category


Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Club class was cancelled today, so I was sitting at my desk with plenty of extra time when one of my favorite students, EC, came over. EC and I have a great relationship. Unfortunately, what I wrote about her last year still holds true; she’s being pushed way too hard by her father and other teachers, but for right now she’s doing okay. Actually, she’s doing more than okay – she got the top score out of the entire second grade on the mock test. Academically she’s swell, but I still worry.

EC and I have a notebook exchange going on right now. She keeps a journal where she writes about various subjects, and I edit it and sometimes write short letters back. In that journal I taught her the expression “burning the candle at both ends” and cautioned her to makes sure she gets enough rest.

She dropped by my desk with a can of plum juice. A handwritten note and a tiny purple flower were taped to the can.


“달개비 – (닭의장풀)

It’s name was derived from the fat that it usually grows in a nearby henhouse. 닭의 – a chicken’s, 장 – cage, 풀 – weed.

닭의 -> 달괴 -> 달개

I happened to recognize this flower’s name few days ago and it was a really cool experience. Before knowing the name, I regarded it as a weed. It didn’t mean something special for me. never did it. However, the only fact that I recognize the name of it changed my mind and made me repeat it’s name, 달개비, 달개비, 달개비… now I believe that knowing something’s name has power that makes somebody think of it and attracts others to remember itself. I’m glad that I know not only your name but also how you’re nice, wonderful, and important to me.”

While reading this, I started to tear up in the teacher’s office. As a teacher, you come to terms with the fact that you are probably way more attached to your students than they are to you. I look back on my time in elementary, middle, and high school, and I feel guilty about how I didn’t recognize how much work my teachers did for me. I know I was a good student, and I know teachers liked me, and while I liked them I rarely ever interacted with them outside of the classroom on purpose. It’s always wonderful when a student reaches out to you.

The Thoughtful Ones

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

In Korean the term for “thoughtful” is 생각형. Literally, it means “thinking (생각: senggak) type (형: hyeong). I think it’s a rather apt way to describe someone – the type of  person who thinks a  lot.

My favorite (though I shouldn’t have any) students tend to fall into two categories – the loud goofy ones, and the thoughtful ones. The loud goofy ones are easy to like – they get up in your face and make you notice them. It’s hard NOT to make an opinion of them, and they’re easy to recognize and have spur-of-the moment conversations with. The thoughtful ones are harder to get to know.

This isn’t to say that extroverted, loud, goofy students can’t be thoughtful – far from it. It’s how students choose to interact with me that defines whether I think of them as a goofball or a thoughtful student rather than their actual critical thinking ability. I’m going to perceive a student who approaches me to crack jokes all the time differently than a student who writes me detailed letters.

The thoughtful ones are wonderful, because your relationship with them, once you get to know them, never ends. The extroverted goofy ones move on, and that’s okay. They say hello when they see you, or not, and you say hello, or not, and that’s it. The thoughtful ones come to talk to you. They write you emails, and keep in touch through facebook or other social media. Through your conversations with them they grow, and you grow, and you grow together, and there’s nothing that compares to it – not a high-five from the loudest kid in school, or an entire class jumping up and down outside your window to say HELLO-SEE ME-I’M HERE-I’M SAYING HI-HELLO – because they see you as a person, and you see them as a person, and that’s a truly wonderful thing.

That’s why, given the choice, I’ll take my class of quiet thoughtful ones. The ones that sometimes are hard to teach because they aren’t as exuberantly participatory, and you sometimes wonder if they’re listening. I’ll take them and the look in their eyes created by thinking too much too late into the night, and the chicken-scratch they developed by writing too much and too quickly in any language they could; the softer voices, and the furrowed foreheads, and the ink stains, and the slightly-slumped shoulders, and I’ll gladly talk to any of them that will let me.

Final Address

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Today there was a farewell assembly, where I received flowers and presents from the students and teachers and I was able to give a speech (my 마지막 인사 – final greeting). I was excited to do this, because for the first time I could say what I wanted to my lower level students and they would theoretically completely understand me, because I was going to have a translator, and also give part of the speech in Korean. The students became apprehensive out once I started speaking in English, until we reassured them that we would translate, and then completely freaked out when I started speaking Korean. No one was completely surprised because I use a fair amount of Korean in the classroom, but no one realized to what extent I could speak Korean.

Here’s my speech, the first half was translated by my co-teacher, and the second half I said on my own:  

 “I think learning a foreign language is one of the most difficult things a person can do. You must learn not only grammar and vocabulary, but you must also have a lot of self-confidence.

The purpose of learning a foreign language is to communicate. In order to speak a foreign language you must feel two things. One – that you can do it. You know the vocabulary, grammar, etc. Two – that you are worth listening to, that you have interesting and important things to say.

I hope you never think that you are boring, or you have nothing to share. My favorite Sapgyo High school memories are from Sports Day, school trips, and when you came and talked to me outside of the classroom.  You are all interesting, beautiful, intelligent people. I am proud of how hard you have worked, and how far you have come, and I am proud to say “these are my students.”

Please don’t be shy. Please use your time next semester in conversation class to practice speaking and build self-confidence. If you do this, the new teacher cannot help loving you.

However, it is easy for me to say this in English, because I am an English teacher. Every day you must speak to me in a foreign language, so now I will also speak in a foreign language…



삽교고등학교에서 가르치는 것이 재미있었어요. 제가 처음으로 선생님이 되어 기분이 좋았어요.

Teaching at Sapgyo high school this year was very fun. This was my first time teaching and I had a good experience.

외국어 배우기 어렵고 외국어 말하기 아주 무서워요.

Learning a foreign language is difficult, but speaking a foreign language is especially scary.

수업중에서  수고했어요. 말하기가 어렵지만 열심히 했어요. 저는여러분이 자랑스러워요.

In class you worked very hard. Though speaking is difficult you were enthusiastic. I am proud of you.

삼 학년 – 수능 잘보세요!  

3rd grade –Do well on the suneung (college entrance exam)!

일 학년- 네 달 동안 좋았어요. 일 년 동안 가르칠 수 없어서 죄송해요 

 1st grade – It was very fun teaching you for 6 months. I am sorry I cannot teach you for a full year.

이 학년- 매일 많은 에너지를 가지고 있어요. 일 년 동안 가르칠 수 있어서 행복했어요.  당신들은 제가 좋은 선생님이 되도록 도와주었어요. 

2nd grade – everyday you have a lot of energy. I was able to teach you for one year so I am happy. You helped me become a good teacher.

학생들 덕분에 삽교고등학교에서 있는 동안 즐거운 시간을 보냈어요.

Because of the students, I had a wonderful time at Sapgyo High School.

꼭 기억 해주세요. 감사합니다.

Please don’t forget me. Thank you.

Why Rote Memorization Doesn’t Work

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

“I’m fine thank you and you?”
“oh, um, okay, uh, how are you?”
“I am Korean!”
“Goodbye teacher!”

Guess I didn’t follow the script ^^;;.