4.2 Fall 2022

August 31, Local journalists

A quartet from 4-3 knocked and stood awkwardly in the office doorway.

“Are you here for the interview?” Wendy asked, probably having received a heads up from their handsome (at least above the mask) homeroom teacher.

They nodded but didn’t move until Wendy beckoned them over to interview her first.

Sidebar, I absolutely live these kinds of projects for kids. They have to practice initiative to find all the teachers nestled in their own offices and then practice speaking with adults.

The journalist leading the pack with her clipboard was the same who wrote me a letter for teacher’s day and also insisted that I learn local dialect. It’s how I picked up 할매.

They asked Wendy a few questions, I definitely didn’t eavesdrop, and then they moved on to Jack. I assume they’d pass over me which is pretty standard, but the kids swiveled and interviewed me in Korean.

One girl with wide eyes stared around the room with her hoodie over her head.

“Are you cold?” I asked, petting the blocky seam of her raised hood.

She nodded.

The leader started the questioning.

“What’s the hardest part of being an English teacher?”

Where do I start?

“Since I can’t speak Korean well, commemoration– continuation– what’s the word?” I implored to my four foot Barbara Walters, proving myself right.

“Communication,” quietly supplied the girl with the hood. I patted her arm.

“Thank you.“

“Right, so because communication is difficult, the students don’t always understand.”

I didn’t tell them how lonely it can be to stand in front of thirty students, not one of whom understand what you’re trying to say in English or Korean. The other week, one brusque girl even had the gall to ask, “teacher, are you bad at Korean?” I was so frustrated that I had to stare at the wall for a moment so I wouldn’t burst into hysterical tears.

I didn’t tell them that I sometimes feel distant from my many students and disappointed with myself that I haven’t tried harder to memorize more of their 500 names.

I didn’t tell them that I often feel disrespected by student disinterest, and even more so by homeroom teacher abandonment. Sure, I can handle your class on my own, but it would be nice to have your assistance, as is required by policy.

I didn’t tell them that while I love and adore Wendy’s constant praise, I’m sometimes frustrated that the rest of the school doesn’t recognize my effort. Every one of the high school debate coteachers has approached me to rain compliments on my class, but then I return to my main school where I can’t even catch Helen at her desk and where I have to break up fights by myself. I’m a former gifted kid, I need the validation!

But maybe that’s just the life of a public school teacher.

The lead meticulously wrote notes on the clipboard while the others flitted their eyes nervously around the teacher’s lair. The only time I’ve seen kids in a teacher’s office is to be scolded.

“What grades do you teach?” Barbara Walters Kim continued.

“Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.“

“Great, thank you,” she said, leading her clueless ducklings out of the office.

It was nice to be included, once again proving that children often have more EQ than adults. And fourth grade continues to be my favorite, because they are easy to motivate, always scream “HELLO ABIGAIL TEACHER!” in the hall, and nearly climb over each other to participate in class.

You go, kids.

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