Week 7, Friday

The new sub G told me that gym boy actually lived in the US when he was younger! So obviously I need to track him down at the gym and question him about this new development.

6-3 was an embodiment of all the bad things I felt yesterday. Kids were falling asleep and I couldn’t get more than one volunteer to answer… anything. I don’t care if you’re wrong, just try. Give me crazy answers like one boy: I wash my hands once a century!

But there was not a peep in the house and S didn’t reprimand them for their silence. Some of them didn’t do the book game and sat silently even after I confirmed the directions with them. And as they got up to arrange themselves for the telephone game one student asked in Korean “do we have to play the telephone game in English?”. Like if y’all could have seen the face I almost made…

In situations like these I feel a bit powerless. I’m not their primary teacher and it feels out of place to be their disciplinarian. If the Korean teacher is not correcting their behavior then I suppose it’s seen as a habit needing correcting. But I find apathy as draining as disobedience.

I was simply disappointed in 6-3.

But thankfully 6-4 saved the day! I heard them before I saw them and once again felt coursing relief. Yes, energy! There were so many volunteers and they tried even if they weren’t correct (“달 two times” “a week one times”). Great! As long as it’s an attempt at English coming out of your mouth I’m happy. I also discovered that one of the boys moved from China two years ago. I didn’t expect Korean schools to have immigrant children but I stand corrected!

I think I also have some mixed Korean students (Indian, Chinese, American). This student is the student who always tries to tell me something and then runs away. But now I can practice all 3 Chinese sentences I know on him. (And I did).

The subject teachers had another tea time with a cake to celebrate a birthday. I told S about my class friend who always joked about looking “half Asian” only to find out that one of his parents is in fact Japanese-American.

“I really didn’t know he was telling the truth.”

“Because he looks American?”

“….no. Because he looks white.”

Look, I’m trying y’all. I’ll keep at it and one day someone will understand when I tell them that “American” is a nationality and not an ethnicity. You can’t “look” American (unless you’re a man wearing cargo shorts and sandals or high white socks with tennis shoes in which case you’re about to be pickpocketed).

The male music teacher said something like “I think it must be hard for Abigail to sit with us while we’re talking Korean and she doesn’t understand” which is ironically the only part of the conversation I did understand. I told them I just think of it as listening practice. “Wow you are a positive person…” I’m honestly just happy to be invited.

They’re not my managers and we don’t speak the same language and yet they’re so much more welcoming than previous coworkers (maybe one day I’ll tell you the full story of the year I spent in Atlanta once I stop getting angry every time I think about it).

Later my fifth grade Strong Girl posse saw me through the class window and said “oh it’s Abigail teacher. HELLO ABIGAIL TEACHER.”

“Handsome” student fixed what she thought was my showing bra strap (tank top but the gesture was sweet). And after exiting the gym after school one fourth grade boy recognized me and shouted HI from his bike. I love seeing the kids outside of school! Makes me feel more real.

I continue to learn a lot from G and I’m sorry I ever doubted her. She apparently turned around the kids at her previous school— 6 teachers quit in a year before the took over and straightened them out.

She’s very open with her gratitude and praises the good changes the kids make. Also I saw her son via Skype one morning and he’s very handsome (and married with a kid).

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