April 23

Amidst the chaos that was yesterday, I found myself enjoying my travel school more and more. Maybe it was the fact that half the students were sent home since they all attended a taekwondo school where one kid tested positive for COVID. (The taekwondo school manager came to have words with the principal for ruining their image). Or rather, it’s because Yana and I continue to develop our teaching relationship.

Yana is strong where I am weak. She swoops in where I can’t explain or where she sees there is a better way to do something.

Siri, please play “You raise me up”.

For example, I had printed out various foods and had each of the students demonstrate a conversation. “Please try some. It’s salty. Do you want some more? Yes, please.” She saw we still had time and suggested that now students try the same dialogue but in pairs.

Later in planning hours I asked about the young male teachers. You don’t see many around these parts. “The fifth grade home room teacher is married I heard and the other one has a girlfriend,” she said, answering a question I hadn’t asked but probably wanted to.

She drove me home after we had both worked frantically to the end, and I put together a special bag of items for class the next day.

I brought in realia to practice possessives with my main school. It was much better than using a PowerPoint and I had fun depositing various items on different students’ desks and asking “whose is this”. I took it a step further and using the sentence we had practice last week, I asked each class “May I borrow someone’s shoe?”

They were suspicious if it was refusal practice or if I really needed a shoe, but there was at least one kid in every period that happily handed over a warm, indoor croc.

I then took the shoe to the front of the class and using it like a conductor baton, had them read the sentence “Whose shoe is this?” with the answer, “It’s …’s”.

While I was waiting outside of 5-2 for the normally sweet teacher to finish her exasperated lecture to the students, Seventeen fan doppelgänger and another girl tilted their heads look at me through the open door. I tilted my head back to look at them. They kept tilting their head sideways and so did I until we were all matching each other at 90° angles. Other students were still getting their books out and hadn’t taken notice.

I figured out shortly why the normally sweet, TESOL-studying teacher was frustrated. The kids were certainly up in their Friday jams which meant that the music game went over really well but also that a lot of reigning in was needed.

I got the idea from the foreign teachers forum and used a range of songs: Barbie Girl, Bad Guy, I’m a Gummy Bear, Gangnam Style, and a popular trot song. I really love music so it was a treat to listen to the songs and dance along with the kids. In 5-4, several students got out of their chairs to dance. Sorry to all the other classes that heard 찐이야 blasting from down the hall.

5-4 homeroom teacher was actually a little late to class and I thought for a moment she might have just up and avoided seeing me entirely. She did come eventually but was little bit busy writing in a notebook and the kids were too busy shouting song names to bored.

The sixth graders were not to be outdone in exuberance.

When I was leaving school I saw a group on the field outside. No one seemed to be playing any sport coherently: one boy was throwing a frisbee to no one, two boys were kicking a soccer ball around, and the girls were chatting on the steps.

I asked to throw the frisbee and when I did all the girls clapped. But the lone boy in the field just watched it go by with no attempt to catch it.

What a bunch of weirdos. I love them.

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