13 March 2007

If they make you cry, you lose.

For the last few minutes there has been some sort of loud-speaker-esque announcer outside. I didn't notice it until just now, when it dawned on me that I no longer live a block away from Moore High School. I can't think of anywhere nearby that a sporting event may be taking place, or any sort of loud-speaker-esque event for that matter. Now I'm curious, but not curious enough to put shoes on, wait for an elevator, and hunt down the source.

So, I know that I came to Korea to be an elementary school and kindergarten teacher. I knew that when I was job hunting; I knew that when I interviewed and signed a contract; I knew that when I packed my bags and flew halfway around the world. I don't know what I was expecting or thinking teaching kindergarten was going to be like. Any time I've ever met anyone who told me they aspired to teaching kindergarten I wondered what was wrong with them. I suppose a lot of people must have been wondering what was wrong with me when I told them that I was not only going to be teaching kindergarten, but teaching it to kids that have no idea what I'm saying. I have to say, If I met myself right now, I'd think I was crazy.

I love all ten of the kids in my kindergarten class, most of the time. They're super smart, some of them are really sweet, and a few of them crack me up. A couple of them will also have it coming when I go insane and duck tape them to their chairs. James, for example, finishes all of his work enthusiastically and accurately. I just can't let him stand up for anything, because he'll pull chairs out from under the other students, then throw himself on them while they're still on the ground. Joshua can somehow manage to get even my shyest kids talking, which is great. But when he gets bored he'll turn off the lights and start body slamming the other kids (who seem to have been conditioned to get up and run around screaming any time the lights go out. Bedtime must be a chore for their parents.) And blessed Joey is a linguistic genius with a devil of a vocabulary. Yesterday it was 'girls are poop' today it was 'teacher, you are panty!'

Last Thursday they had me pretty close to tears, but things have been getting better. I don't think I'd go so far as to say that the children's behavior has improved, I think I've just lowered my expectations. I discovered that by dropping my standard of good conduct a few notches, suddenly each child in the room was a better student. Yes, Joey may have dipped his hands in the paint today and then laid a double-handed slap to my belly, but but boys will be boys, right?

So the day ended tear free, I've added a little unexpected yellow to my wardrobe, and I dished out Korean smiles by the handfuls with my own attempts to communicate in a foreign environment at the Baskin Robbins on the way home. It's only fair. Joey didn't understand when I explained why he was in time out; I didn't understand when the enthusiastic young man in a pink hat told me why he was putting three flavors of ice cream into my pint instead of the one I had ordered.

And so the loud speaker sets on another day, and one more teacher retreats into the sugary depths of comfort food.

No comments: