The life of an ESL teacher at GDA Junior, Bundang, brings with it much excitement; but along side the hard times are the wonderful moments where you could just about melt over the sweetness of some kids, or perhaps grin in deep amusement at the blunt, honest ways in which kids approach each other, or laugh aloud at the hilariousness that can happen when meanings get lost in translation.
Here are some of my favourite memories as of late:
- (While with my 9 year olds):
Me: “Ok guys, who knows what the word ‘wonder’ means?
Jack: Teacher, it’s like this… (stops and pretends to think… then gets an insanely happy look on his face) “There teacher! I wonder about a gorgeous girl!”
- (After a particularly long day with my six-year-olds, while reviewing vocabulary words"):
Me: “Who can give me a sentence with the word ‘beautiful’ in it?”
Harry L: “OH! OH! TEACHER! I KNOW!”
Me: “Ok Harry L.! Raise your hand!”
(Enthusiastic waving of hand) Harry L. Blurts out “Teacher! You’re beautiful!” (Harry L. beams)
- (While correcting nine-year-old Belle’s homework – writing vocabulary words in a sentence):
“Shining: Katie teacher is shining.”
- (Alan got glasses one day and some of the kids were making fun of him):
Rachel to Alan: “You’ve got glass eyes!”
Kelly to Rachel: “Rachel, you have glass eyes too!”
Rachel to Kelly: “noooo! Mommy said that’s ok!”
Sue to Alan: “Alan, I think that’s ok because your glass eyes make you look really cute (beams at him)”
Me to Alan: “Hear that Alan! Sue thinks you’re handsome with your new glasses! And, she’s right – you are looking very handsome this morning :)”
Alan to me: “Teacher, handsome is what?”
Me to Alan: “Um, handsome is like… man-beautiful!?”
Harry L.: “Teacher, am I man-beautiful too?”
Will: “Me too?”
Harry P: “Me too?”
Me to boys (with big grin): “Yes boys, you are all man-beautiful.”
- (While walking down the hall to get the snacks, I encountered a small boy from Jen’s class – about 5 years old. Walking in earnest beside me, he looks up and…):
boy to me: “Hello, I’m Justin. What’s your name?!”
Me to Justin: “My name is Katie teacher! Are you in Jen teacher’s class?”
Justin to me: “Yes. Nice to meet you! How are you today?”
Me to Justin: “I’m doing pretty well! How are you?”
Justin to me: “I am very HAPPY!” (he then runs away laughing).
- There was the time where the kids were having a massive conversation about a special sheet of paper. I still don’t know what made the sheet so special, or why they were talking about it… The problem was that they couldn’t properly pronounce ‘sheet’. I spent a good 5 minutes getting them to pronounce the ‘eeeeeeeeee’ sound instead of the [it] sound. Those poor kids. I hope they figure it out eventually.
- (While in class, during lunchtime):
Rachel to me: “Teacher, I want to change my name.”
Me to Rachel: “What do you want to change your name to?”
Rachel to me: “Teacher, I want to change my name to… (she pauses for a second to build suspense, then, in a moment of complete drama, she flings her head around to cause a giant hair swoosh, gives me a dramatic, intense look, and proclaims…) RACHE.”
- (Seconds after Rachel changes her name):
Will to me: “Teacher, I want to change my name too!”
Me to Will: “To what Will?”
Will to me: “WILLIAM”
Me to Will: “Why William and not Will?”
Will: “Because, everybody go WIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLL when they mad at me and now they can’t go. Now, they have to just go WILLIAM. And that is all.”
(Will crosses out the name “Will” on a nearby worksheet and in rebellion writes WILLEAM”
- While completing an exercise in their “Exploring Writing” texts, my students came across the following details and instructions:
Firefighters put out fires, rescue people and help people who can’t get to a doctor. Answer the following questions:
1. What do firefighters do? __________________________________________.
Students to me: Teacher! We don’t know!
Me: “Ok guys, lets read the top part again”
(They read it out loud)
Students: “Teeaacchhhheeerrrrrrr. UGH!”
Me: “Come on guys! We finish this and its playtime! Think really hard. What do firefighters do?”
Class: “They put out fires.”
Me: “Ok, that’s one thing that they do, what else?”
Class: “Teacher, how do you spell ‘put’?”
Me: “Its written right here” (I point at their books)
Class: “Teacher, how do you spell ‘fire’?”
Me: “It’s written right here guys! Make sure you look at the text!”
Class: “Teeeaaachhhheerrr. UGH!”
Me: “Ok, firefighters put out fires. They p-u-t… o-u-t… f-i-r-e-s.”
(Actual responses discovered while marking their work):
“Firefighters are people.”
“I don’t know teacher.”
- (During the next activity, the assignment was “Write a thank-you note to your local firefighters”)
Class: “Teeeaacchhheeeerrrr, how do you spell firefighters?”
Me: “Guys, I want you to look in the book.”
Class: “Teacher, how do you spell thank-you?”
Me: “Try to look in the book.”
Harry L.: “Teacher, how do you spell handsome?”
Harry L.: “Teacher, how do you spell handsome?”
(I love his randomness :)
- (While the rest of the kids simply wrote “Thank-you firefighters, Harry L. wrote a masterpiece of child-creativity):
- (Earlier in his writings, it was asked what he wanted to be and why. He replied that he wanted to be a firefighter or a doctor, because…):
"Thank-you. You save my baby. Dear firefighter thank you.
here is a meat. Thank-you it is very dilishas.
Thank-you it is very beautiful.
thank-you it is willy willy nice.
Thank-you it is very very beautiful and whondlful.
Thank-you it is very handsome.”
"I help a people.
I rescue a people.
I save a people."
Sounds like a new firefighter/doctor’s motto to me :)
- (Background info: Harry P. loves attention. He craves attention. He will do ANYTHING for attention. He is also very pushy when he doesn’t get attention. At this point, I was very tired with him, and was willing him to stop poking, yelling and pulling at my arm/sleeve/pen/pencil/etc. My attempts at having him sit down and quietly complete his work were proving futile)
(Michelle, in her innocent,blunt, ‘precisely what I was thinking’ sort of way stepped up in the battle to bring Harry P. back down to normal behaviour):
Harry P.: EVERYBODY! EVERYBODY! LOOK AT ME! (he is currently holding paper over the garbage can and has a pair of scissors posed in a threatening way).
Harry P.: EVERYBODY! EVERYBODY! I AM GOING TO CUT THE PAPER! (waits for people to look. no one does).
Harry P.: MICHELLE! MICHELLE! (pokes Michelle repeatedly and waits for her to watch) MICHELLE! I AM GOING TO CUT SOME PAPER!
Michelle (without looking up): “Harry P. You speak a lot of words but say nothing. Stop talking please.”
Harry P.: (looks baffled, cuts the paper, and then goes and sits down at the table – note: he was not overly hurt by this, mainly just confused.)
- (While “A Whole New World” is playing in the classroom during Arts and Crafts"):
Rachel to class: “OH! OH! I KNOW THIS SONG!”
Kelly: “You know words?”
Rachel: “Yes. Words I know.”
Harry L.: “What the words?”
Rachel: “I know words” (starts humming)
Harry L.: “Noooo, you just make noise! No words!”
Rachel (with sincerity): “I know them. Um,,, ‘A WOOO WOOO OOOORD. A WAA WOOO BA BEE DEE BE BOOOO. LAA LAA KA MAAA LAA LOOO… um…”
Kelly: “You no know words.”
Rachel: “I know music.”
And, then of course there are the massive hugs and the “KAATTIIIIEEE TEEEEAAAACCCHHHHHEEEEEER – YAAAYYYYY!” Moments that just make this whole tough-job-on-the-other-side-of-the-world seem pretty crazy good.
What a bunch of nuts :) The kiddies sure have their cute moments. In fact, I’m glad I finally sat down and wrote up this blog – it’s almost made me forget my super crazy day :) I really do love these kids, and as much as they drive me insane sometimes, I don’t think I would give a single one of them up to a different teacher if I could :) All it takes to completely change a hard day around is a good laugh with my 6-year-olds, a dance party with my 5-year-old princesses (complete with spins, leaps, twirls, ‘walking on teacher’s feet’ and ‘pick-em-up and slow dance’ moves), a hardcore game of ‘make the shape’ with my afternoon kindergarteners or ‘act out the vocabulary words’ with my older kids and all is well :)
It is now time for me to buckle down and do my lesson plans for November (due tomorrow). It should be fun! I hope you’re all doing well back in Canada and that today is beautiful for you :)