Tag Archives: teaching

Well-Cared For Kids

I take it back.

I take it all back.

I think the universe is punishing me for ever having dared give up on this whole writing dream of mine. These children are awful. At any given moment at my job, there is the spittle of a student who has just the worst damn lisp in history all over me. On Wednesdays, we eat lunch with the kids and I can see the spit flying from his lips to my salad.

When he’s not spitting he’s screaming, either in outrage or excitement. Either way, it’s blistering to my eardrums.

I hear their voices ringing in my ears on the weekends, these awful children. They have a chant: “My mommy said that jajjangmyeon is not a delicious.” (Jajjangmyeon is korean chinese food, it’s noodles in black bean sauce–MSG loaded and actually quite delicious, but that’s not the point). In the dead of night, when all is silent and I’m drifting off to sleep, their shrill voices float by my ears. “My mommy said that jajjangmyeon is not a delicious. My. MOMMY. SAID. THAT. JAJJANGMYEON. IS NOT A DELICIOUS. YEAH YEAH YEAH.” It’s haunting.

When they’re not spitting on me, screaming at me, or chanting the chants that will imprint my soul and haunt my very being after school has finished, they’re fucking bickering.

Good gawd, I never realized how annoying bickering is. All day it’s TEACHERRR! and I DON’T LIKE JASON! and DON’T DO THAT PLEASE. All. Damn. Day. I remember fighting with my brother when I was a kid, and I remember how angry my mother used to get. I never got it back then, but damned if I don’t get it now–it’s the worst thing ever to be stuck in a room with: the sound, the sight, and the general feel of it all fucking SUCKS. It’s so draining.

Then there are the emotional issues. X student is friends with Y student, but he’s actually really competitive with Y student so can you manage X student’s emotions so he doesn’t feel bad? (uhh…?). T student wants to be friends with X and Y student and is jealous that X and Y students play so well together but actually T student is the screaming spitter, but still can you make sure they all play together? (uhh….?). Q student is actually cool as hell but the only girl so she’s gonna demand all your attention simply because you’re two girls lost among the madness so can you give your full attention to her whilst managing the three boys? (uhh…?). Ah, and finally, Y student is an overworked six year old who after this will go to piano, art and taekwondo; he’s moody and exhausted because of his grueling schedule, and he’s also a bit of a compulsive liar, so can you get a ton of work done while he’s constantly interrupting you with his swinging moods of extreme silliness and pissed offedness from thinking about his schedule? (uh…sure?).

I only have four students, not 20, so it’s not a lot to complain about really.

But the universe sure showed me for ever thinking of giving up writing.

Still, I can’t help but think, when I see these extremely cute little kids in their burberry coats, with their expensive lessons to which they’re being shuffled back and forth, that they’re so well cared for. And I’d like to have a couple of those well cared for kids for myself one day. Not the brats through.


Find something you love and…

2 hours ago, it was 11 something and I was excited about getting nine hours of sleep. I feel like my body needs it. My schedule has picked up a LOT lately, which is great, because I’m definitely still paying for Bali.

But now it’s 1:17 a.m. in Korea, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m just not that tired after all.

I should be. I woke up early, worked out for an hour, worked a full day, and then did an hour class after that. On the way home, finally, I was thinking about how not tired I am, and how I regret having picked up dinner and depriving myself from the pleasure of cooking for myself.

See, the thing is that even though my days are long, I don’t hate them. And even though I spend my time working, really actually working, not deskwarming but actually interacting with students for 8-9 hours a day, I often find myself feeling energized.

I think I really do love being a teacher. They say find something you love and never work a day in your life, right? I don’t know. This doesn’t really feel like work. I mean, it’s a place I have to go every day, but like you can’t be too serious once you’re there. I laugh, like genuinely laugh, like caught-off-guard LOL because it was actually funny laugh like once an hour. Because these kids are crazy and hilarious. My kindies have gotten into the habit of sniffing me, and so they regularly get up from their seats to grab my arm and take deep inhalations from their little diaphragms. Then they proclaim to me that I smell “a lot good and a little bad.” It’s completely absurd. But it’s really funny.

And I never know where the day’s going to take me. I have two boys that I work with, and even though we have a textbook, a lot of times we stray from the curriculum. One day they broke down for me the politics behind the two-party system in Korea, and the attitudes of the older and younger generations toward Korea’s leaders. The next, they wanted to hear and tell ghost stories, then they ran out to one kid’s mom because they were scared, because they’re only 10 Korean age (which makes them 9).

In contrast to this, I have the fact that I had six solid months free and didn’t write a damn word. I write, but I feel tired afterward. I do it, but I power through it. I think about the environment I would have as a writer. I could work at a newspaper/magazine and be surrounded by sardonic, cynical, world-weary, oh so clever adults. Or I could work at home by my damn self and descend into madness in the dreary and silence of my own mind.

I honestly don’t think this writing thing is for me, not to make a career of. I feel like I made a choice a long time ago that I didn’t want to live in my head. That it was actually really important for me as a stable and happy person to get the hell out of my head. Looking back, that was probably the day I gave up writing as a potential career, realistically. Because where else would I reside, really, but in my head as a writer?

And here I have teaching. And it’s fresh, and new. And i’m up and standing and moving and laughing and sometimes being stern but other times chasing little children around a play gym. And i’m not being read and revered by millions, but I’m teaching a handful of kids how to think critically and express themselves and damnit, that’s fulfilling and satisfying as hell.

I really like what I do right now.

To Boston, to Afghanistan, with Love

A little project we did in my English Club



Do you eat chicken?


today was the big day. First day teaching. True to form, I stayed up until around midnight last night putting the perfecting touches on everything: edublog, video greeting for edublog, ppt, teaching philosophy, class policies, writing diagnostic, and desperate fb messages to all of my teacher friends/mentors for advice about icebreakers, etc.

In the end, I decided to go with the classic “3 Truths and one Lie” game for the first day. I don’t quite know my reasoning. At first I was going to do a writing diagnostic…but I don’t know. English class is supposed to be fun, and even though we will be writing (and I will be doing a diagnostic)….I just wanted the first day to be fun. 

So anyway, I went with the 3 truths and one lie thing,

and it was hilarious. I learned 3 things about my students: 1) they are hilarious. 2) they are not shy 3) they are surprisingly up on American Pop Songs (as exhibited by the LMFAO reference that, coincidentally, made me LMFAO). 

I am glad to know these three things about my students, because it will definitely influence my approach throughout the year, although I don’t think my co-teacher appreciated it because after those classes she became a lot more hands-on, telling me what I need to plan for them for tomorrow and Monday.

Oh well. I’ve had 26 years to come to terms with the fact that not everyone gets my humor.

Speaking of 26 years….

isn’t it awkward when someone guesses your age…and get it exactly right? Is that only me? It’s like damn, I really look my age?

I have been long-since warned about the Korean tendency to ask you seemingly personal questions as a way to get to know you (are you married, how old are you, etc.), but today was the first day anyone actually took a personal interest in me I guess. This teacher guy at my school asked me whether I was married (to which I replied no….mi-hon–single). Then he said some stuff in Korean, the Korean teachers giggled, and my co-teacher translated:

“He’s trying to guess your age.”

To which I replied brightly, “Oh, 26.”

She translated, and everyone had a good laugh. “That’s what he guessed,” she translated. “26 or 27.”

…da fuq?! Now you can look at me and see I’m in my late 20s? Oh,

not cool man.



Old though I may appear, I definitely felt like a freshman in high school today. I had the typical first-day-of-school round of mishaps: brand new pimples, missing the bus, tripping up the stairs, and even finding a hole in my tights. So the universe kind of got the inverse of what I want, which is to look like a high-schooler but conduct myself like a grown-ass woman, not the other way around.

And finally, to sum of my first day teaching, I leave you with this:

As a part of wrapping up my second class of the day, I asked students if they hand any questions for me.

Amid the shaking of the heads, one girl raises her hand.

I smile and tell her to ask away.

She smiles.

“Do you eat chicken?” she asks.

The class laughs. Again, I’m like….da fuq?

In my mind, I’m trying not to go there–there being stereotype threat, of course: Oh. Why you gotta ask the black girl do she like chicken? I’m trying to tell myself this is a whole ‘nother part of the world. Maybe she wants to know if Americans like chicken. Or maybe she just wants to know if Ms. Bri, the individual standing in front of her, likes chicken.

I’m thinking this while the class is laughing, so I put on my best smile and I reply, “Do you like chicken? Since I’ve been in Korea I’ve noticed a lot of chicken restaurants. So yes, I like chicken, but I think everyone does, don’t you?”

Meanwhile, my co-teacher asks her, “Do you ask every teacher that?” to which the girl replies “yes.” So I go, “oh, you’re taking a survey about which teachers like chicken or something?” to which the girl replies no.

Liar. It was just something she asked me. I’ve got my eye on you, you little so-and-so.