Monday, December 23, 2013

Pen Pals

This is my friend Katie. We went to the same college, and for about 3 years we had almost every class together. We built starburst towers in the back of the classroom and she made me a checklist of the due dates of all our assignments to keep me from going crazy. Then we did our student teaching in the same school. Then we came to Korea together. Then she left me to go back to Wisconsin and I cried. 

Now she teaches 4th grade and we decided to make our students be pen pals. When I first told my kiddos what we were going to do I had to explain it a few times before they really understood it. "I will write a letter to America? And America will write a letter to me? Teacher real? (sometimes they just say real instead of really)" They giggled at all the silly American names like Drake and Sophie and told their new friends about their families and how they like chicken and pizza but they don't like studying.

Then 2 weeks later Katie's letters came, and oh my gosh. I've never answered so many questions about mail in my life. 
"Teacher how did this get here?" 
"It came in the mail kids." 
"From America? Real?" 
"But how?"
"On an airplane."
"Teacher did you write this letter?"
"No I didn't write that letter! Your American friend wrote to you."
"Sophie is a real person?"
Needless to say their little minds were blown and I told my boss we better plan a field trip to the post office, because mail is apparently very confusing.

We've done this a few times now and after they got pictures of their American friends I think it finally sunk in that there is a real child out there they are communicating with. They know about how long it takes to hear back after we've written and they ask for days when their mail is coming. And no matter what kind of mood they're in when class starts, they get so excited and happy to read their letters from their pen pals. It's adorable. Our most recent ones were Christmas cards with Christmas pencils. So cute!

So thanks for doing this Katie! I'm having just as much fun with it as the students are. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

My students are funny

The kiddos did some pretty cute stuff this week. I've been teaching them for a few months now and I think they're starting to feel more comfortable with me and they're showing off more of their personalities. They say the funniest things, and the best part to me is that half the time they don't even know they're being funny. 

ShinWoo is in 5th grade and he's becoming one of my favorites. He's the quiet but quirky type. And he's so small - looking at him I'd guess he was in 2nd or 3rd grade. He sat down in class this week and I asked him if he did his homework and he said, "Yes teacher, because I am handsome." And then smiled at his own joke. Because handsome = smart I guess? A few days later we were reading a story titled A Difficult Decision about a boy who finds a toy in the park and has to decide whether he should keep it or return it. Riveting literature. I asked the class what would be a difficult decision for them to make and ShinWoo raised his hand and said, "Choosing between SunWoo (a girl he apparently likes) and my mom. That would be hard." And he was so serious about it that I couldn't even laugh. 

In another class I was writing something on the whiteboard, and when I turned around I saw a boy blowing up a giant green balloon. He obviously knew that wasn't something he should be doing in English class, so he tried to hide it under his desk when I caught him. I'm sure he expected me to get mad but I just laughed so hard...where did that even come from and why do you want to blow it up right now?! And how do you think you're going to hide it from me? Then I started to wonder what his thought process was - English is a little boring today so I'll spice it up a little bit with this balloon? 

My students are pen pals with my friend Katie's students in Wisconsin, and we started writing them Christmas cards on Friday. There's one boy who is so quiet, he hardly ever shows emotion. I think I've seen him smile 3 times. When I told the class they were going to write Christmas cards for their American friends, he put his head down and started writing and didn't look up till I told him it was time to go. He made this:

He made letters into pictures, he used a million exclamation points, he drew a giant tree behind the whole thing. And he would have done more but it was time to go home. It was so sweet. I'm glad I finally found something that gets him excited. 

One of my highest level classes is only boys and I look forward to teaching them every day. They're all upper elementary and they can speak well enough to really express themselves - to me and to each other. They're all friends and they're all so funny. One of them was making this really strange helicopter noise while they were writing and another kid said, "Why you make that stupid noise?!" and helicopter boy shrugged and said, "Just because." The rest of us laughed so hard and he continued being a helicopter for a little while longer. 

Oh kids. Stuff like this is why I love teaching.