3.1 Spring 2021

July 5, Look Into My Eyes

I muttered to myself sometime during 6-5, “y’all are funny”. In the classes that have proven a little difficult, I brought out the class rules. Respect, listen, prepare. They were reminded of my expectations and thus were able to curb the worst of their impulses. It was a much needed refresher!

My pre-pubescent little goblins were engaged and hard-working today. After a chat during an Avatar (The Last Airbender) streaming party with some other experienced teachers, I’ve leaned away from doing so many active games. Teacher needs a break, too!

The last chapter of the sixth grade textbook is all about appearance. But to keep vocabulary simple, the book restrics descriptors to: blue eyes, brown eyes, long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair. As someone who fits hardly any of those characteristics, I decided to expand.

I taught my kids “wavy” along with “hazel” as big chunks of the population have one of these characteristics. They absorbed the information very fast and were in awe that I have hazel eyes.”Really?” they all asked. I looked closely into the eyes of students who were curious and they all, no matter the class, exclaimed. “Oh my gosh, they really are hazel!”

I admit, it’s a cheap party trick. Hazel eyes aren’t really special in the U.S. but I’m not against using my students for a small ego boost!

Surprisingly, the kids have varying shades of brown eyes. Some wanted confirmation that they really couldn’t say “black eyes”. No honey, your eyes are dark brown. I’m looking at them right now.

One boy was able to name several European countries to all our astonishment. That kid later commented to another that Oliver ssaem had made a video about “black eyes” and how “brown eyes” should be used instead. Curious, I searched for it later.

Oliver ssaem is my favorite YouTube English teacher for Korean audiences. He’s a nice Texas boy who keeps videos short and sweet. There are no English subtitles but even I can understand his explanations.

I remember doing this lesson with the Seoul fifth graders.

It did not go down as smoothly.

Having higher level kids who are mostly behaved makes such a difference! I got to talk to them about eye color statistics and other factoids that really interested them.

I also explained in Korean that my dad and three brothers have hazel eyes. Mom has green/blue eyes. They all muttered in amazement. One boy later commented that I was good at Korean, I think because I used specific family terms. I did puff up a little with pride.

Korean designates different words for older and younger siblings (which also change depending on if you are a sister or brother) as well as the order of siblings, which makes talking about family much easier, in my humble opinion.

The 6-3 teacher also chatted with me in English briefly, which now makes half of sixth grade homeroom teachers who have made an effort to talk to me. It’s a good feeling, they’re definitely getting one of my “end of semester” goodie bags.

Even though my office coworkers have been rapid firing away in Korean for hours in the afternoon, gossip from what I can glean, they’ll get a gift, too. I feel isolated when they talk so comfortably in Korean but there’s nothing to do but study harder and eavesdrop better. Cue Daft Punk.

Maintaining relationships is especially important in Korea and often a small token is just the ticket to let people know you’re thinking of them.

I’m still racing to the end, multiple tabs open, to finish planning summer camp and keep on top of lesson plans. I’ve started a special project for fifth and sixth grade to end the semester.

Friends and family have volunteered to send in self-introduciton videos which the kids will watch and answer questions about using the real English they heard.

I’m excited to share it with them!

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