Archive for the ‘third grade’ 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?


Thursday, February 7th, 2013

I’m back at CPHS for the first time in over a month and screams are echoing through the halls. It’s graduation day, so spirits are high. First and second grade students are running around in the halls like wild things (though, let’s be frank, when do they not), and the third grade students are almost unrecognizable covered in makeup, wearing street clothes, and with their dyed hair and contact lenses. It’s almost frightening to think that in March I could run into one of my former students in the street, at a coffee shop, or heaven forbid a bar, and fail to recognize them.

I just received the paper that lists the statistics and facts surrounding graduation (the number of students going to the top schools, the exact day and date of each graduation in the history of CPHS, who will scholarships) and something struck me – every single student graduated. Every student. My high school is a high-achieving magnet school so there’s no reason anyone should fail, but I compare that with my high school and I’m flabbergasted. The students that will graduate are the first group of students I taught at CPHS, and though I only taught them for a semester I really enjoyed that experience. They got me when I was new to CPHS and still learning the ropes, and not at my best, but they were great to me anyway. Across the country, another group of students dear to my heart has graduated, or will graduate soon. That group of students are the students I taught as first graders at SGHS, and my host sister is one of the many who will be graduating. The CPHS graduation ceremony starts in less than thirty minutes, and though it was a long trip from Seoul, and though I’m missing a day of Korean classes, I’m so thrilled to be here.

Upgrading Increasingly

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

I’m back in CP and preparing to teach on Monday. I teach a one week long winter “camp” which just means that I teach as normal, except that instead of teaching both first and second grade, I  just teach second grade. I actually like it, because I get to see second grade twice in one week! This is novel, especially considering that when they were first graders (a month ago) I saw them once every two weeks if I was lucky. After this one week camp, I’ve got one week of nothing in CP and then travel and living in Seoul.

During the super-short winter vacation our students have, they were pretty active on facebook. The first and second graders were alternately bemoaning their short break and complaining that they missed their friends and wanted to go back to school. The second graders in particular seemed to be having mini-meltdowns on facebook as they realized that this was their last real break before the 수능 next November. However, the third graders. The third graders. The third graders were absolutely adorable.

First, I didn’t actually tell any of the third graders that I had a teacher facebook because I didn’t teach them, but a few of them managed to find me and it’s been snowballing from there. They’ve been studying hard for most of their time at CP, and now they’ve found themselves free. They’ve been reveling in their sudden almost overwhelming amount of free time, and have been posting the most adorable photos of their homerooms and their friends.

How can you not grin when you read that?

Snow and Fuzzy Feelings

Friday, December 7th, 2012

There is an Emily Teacher-shaped imprint in the snow right outside my school where I fell this morning. Luckily it was right at the side of the building, so I doubt anyone saw me. In any case, nothing’s hurt except for my pride.

It’s finals week so I don’t have to be at school, but I had an appointment with some third grade students. They’re graduating in February, and the student government is asking ten teachers if they can film them saying “congratulations” and imparting wisdom to the graduating class. The third graders all received a list of teachers and had to choose the ten that they wanted. Somehow, I was chosen.

This means the world to me. I only taught the current third graders for one semester, when I first started at the school. Because we start in August, and the academic year ends in December, our contract starts and ends halfway through the academic year. I had a very rocky first semester, as I was really intimidated by the previous teacher. She had been there for two years and was an extremely competent teacher with teaching experience prior to F*lbright, and I was still (and am still) figuring out how to teach. It was better than my first semester at SG HS, but I’m not sure how much the current third graders got out of my classes.

Though I only taught them for one semester over a year ago, though at that time I only taught them once a week, though I was not at my best and I was still adjusting to the school, they chose me as one of ten teachers to videotape. I am so, so thrilled. Full of warm fuzzy feelings, even as the snow melts into a disgusting slush outside.

Speaking of snow, I wandered around the village at 5 pm yesterday after the snow had settled and the sun was low in the sky, and took pictures of the outskirts of town. Enjoy!


The houses behind my apartment are covered in snow.

The dogs play in the fields on the outskirts of town.

The road out of town.

Our school.

Truck Day

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Well. It’s truck day. That’s my name for it, anyway, I don’t think the Korean teachers have a specific name for it. It’s just the day that a giant truck appears on the dirt exercise field, and third grade students run towards it, dumping their books on the ground. The truck picks up the books with it’s… grabby arm thing (I just spent a good five minutes googling it and trying to figure out what it’s called, if you know, please enlighten me) and the books are taken away, presumably to be recycled or perhaps BURNED along with all of the practice tests they’ve ever taken. I’m only partially joking about the burning.

The best thing about today is seeing the third graders genuinely laugh. Granted, it’s a sort-of maniacal and strange laugh as they run towards the truck, dump their books on the ground, dance around a little, and leave, but it’s a laugh.

Enjoy some pictures of the truck, its grabby arm thing, and books.



A third grader looks back, watching the books that she studied for the last three years, now indistinguishable from countless other books, disappear from her life.


Female students make a pile far to the right of the trick. My co-teacher and I, watching this spectacle, hypothesis that sooner or later someone will light these books on fire, just for kicks.


It’s funny how three years of studying can be reduced to a truckfull of paper, each book indistinguishable from the other.


Happy Monday! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope that at least once in your life you get the opportunity to have a truck come, collect the thing that most troubles you, and take it away.