3.3 Fall 2021

October 28, Boys and Girls

Jack launched out of his chair when I got back to the office.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. That’s a pretty loaded question. Emotionally? Physically? Mentally? Jury’s out.

“I heard a student broke a ruler in class. The homeroom teacher was really worried you got hurt.”

I wracked my brain for any incident outside of the norm; I mean, earlier I saw one boy riding another like a horse. What about today was particularly different?

“She said a piece flew off.”

Ah. One of the special students in fourth grade snapped his plastic ruler, sending a large shard sailing across the room and to the wall behind me. At the time, I stopped and said, “oh my,” then continued on as usual. Short of fist fights and crying, I don’t keep a record of weird happenings in the classroom.

I was touched that the homeroom teacher was worried, even if it was from a liability standpoint. Since the fourth grade teachers recieved another reminder from Helen to stay in class, and so far have been adhering, students have generally been much easier to control.

Between classes I waited in the hallway during the scant five minute breaks, accidentally adding to the chaos.

“Teacher, trick or treat!”

“Teacher, high five!”

“Teacher, look at my taekwondo kick!”

I love it.

The boys from 4-5, including a self-appointed Mr. Pickle, are always in the hallway getting up to something weird.

This time they were play fighting each other. One boy, who has huge long eyes and dark skin (don’t let dramas fool you, Korean skin tones run the gamut from white to brown) and is such an unbelievable cutie despite his antics, is somehow always in the middle.

Always you three Blank Template - Imgflip

4-5 has improved remarkedly, now that I can teach for 35 minutes instead of 25. It also helps that their homeroom teacher is in the back. The trio loved acting in today’s lesson which involved an exploding pumpkin game, cloze script practice, and finally a role-play of a rather violent Gingerbread Man. The book version has the cookie protagonist get eaten by a wolf at the end.

The cute boy from before volunteered to act twice and I gave him candy for his uh… sweet and unexpected dance moves.

When I was packing up, after calming everyone down with Ghost Choir (“귀어워~~” they all commented), he ran up to me and said, “Teacher! Today’s lunch is China bokumbap,” then spun away to the pre-lunch chaos spiraling at the back of class. The homeroom teacher laughed a little in surprise, as if to say, that was weird. Only, it was actually rather sweet.

Before I switched to eating plain chicken at my desk, I asked the 4-5 class every week what was on the day’s lunch menu. How cute of him to go out of his way to tell me.

I really do like to think that hanging out in the hallway, where curious girls poke at my arm hair or boys follow me around like puppies, helps me build a relationship. Especially with my more rowdy boys from 4-5.

I’ve always felt more on the same wavelength with male students, mostly because I grew up with three brothers. There are really only so many times you can fight with your siblings before you start to absorb some of their essence. But I don’t want that to influence, consciously or not, how I divide up opportunities in class.

Of course on the other hand, I want to keep in mind that boys are just as passionate and sensitive and need plenty of love. Just like our illustrious G showed the rowdiest of boys back in Seoul.

One TED talk suggested encouraging more men into compassionate careers like nursing, social care, and teaching, and also stay-at-home fatherhood. How wonderful it would be to have more men teaching our young and raising them, too. I hope we can get to a world like that one day— the newest father at school got off just ten days for paternity leave.

It probably doesn’t matter too much at this age, but I want to do it right regardless. I must love everyone equally, taekwondo kicks and all.

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