Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Episode 28: In Which DFM Gets Mothered By A Six Year-Old And Stains His Fingers Purple

Day 3 of my trial run as DFM Kimble...

Today the six year-olds were making "big" and "small" trees out of folded paper.  I taught the parts of the tree and also added some shapes and colours in as a review.  We were running out of brown and green paper, so that gave this girl a good enough excuse as any to make blue and pink trees.

Another class of six year-olds were working on the parts of the hand.  They made finger-print paintings and needed one set of their prints and another of "a friend's" prints.  I stamped so many paintings that my finger tips looked like this girl's right hand all day long (even after more than three washings).  The children in my later classes were all quite worried that something bad had happened to me and asked me about it all day long (in Korean though).  The children all had a good laugh at the relatively massive size of my finger prints (I'm the only male in the school). 

Speaking of being male, it seems that a requisite part of being a male teacher is having children want to be tossed into the air by you.  No matter where I go, children are all the same, and they always want me to toss them into the air.  In fact, having a male teacher must be such a rarity for young children these days that one concerned and surprised young girl felt it was necessary to inform me, "you are a man!"

The four year-olds were each given a large "name tag," that they were to decorate.  Ben here went a bit overboard decorating his though.

After this class I had a large break until my next class.  The vice-principal thought it would be a bad business move to waste two hours of valuable White Teacher Time, so she searched around to find a class in which I could help.

The teacher of the folded tree making six year-olds let me stay with her class, and she even invited me to eat lunch with the class afterwards.  These boys thought that was a good idea.  But for the rest of the day the school cooks were very worried that I did not get lunch and would try to sneak me quick meals whenever they could.

I sat at this table, but I had to wait until the end to get my food (fair enough).  The children all felt bad for me, and would take turns giving me spoonfuls of their food.  I started to worry that they wouldn't have enough, but they all seemed more interested in feeding their new white friend broccoli than eating it.

I had to keep moving around the table or else fights would break out if one group of children got to sit with me for too long.  When I came to this corner of the table the girl with the pink bow in her hair was unsatisfied with how I was eating my rice, so she took my spoon from me and would feed me mouthfuls of rice in between my bites of kimchi and whatever else I was eating.  The boy to her right would feed me spoonfuls of the seaweed soup just above the bowl of rice after my rice (with his spoon though).  After each time I took a bite of my meal the children would ask masisseosseyo?  And after each time they asked I would roll my eyes/head around, while making an "MHMMM" sound or groaning wildly and rubbing my belly.  It never stopped getting smiles, laughs, cheers, and sometimes all three. (Masisseosseyo means delicious, in case you hadn't figured it out).

I also had Fight Girl from the last post try and teach me some more Korean.  I must not have been a very good student though, because she kept looking at me like I was an idiot and shaking her head at me.

After lunch it was time for my special lesson Mr. Kim wanted me to teach.  I had originally thought I was getting the same six year-olds class I had normally been teaching at this time, but instead I found myself working with a combination of four and five year-olds.  I had to rethink my lesson on the fly, but fortunately Mr. Kim had given me creative licence in my lesson planning (a real rarity in this country).

I used a song Mr. Kim had given me and some flash cards his company had developed to introduce the idea of the family.  Once the children had the concept of Mommy, Daddy, Brother, Sister down I had them each draw a picture of their own family and I would write the English words out on top.  One student came up with this family which contained Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle - all words I hadn't gone over, but was more than happy to include in her vocabulary.

After the children were finished I had them stand up and present their picture by saying "This is my Mommy.  This is my Daddy, etc. etc."  I then had them finish up by saying "This is my family."

I'm not sure if the lesson was an educational success, but the children seemed to have fun, especially when I killed some time at the end of the day by performing handstand walking and throwing them up in the air.

The rating for my first week as a teacher in Korea?  "Victory!"

Tomorrow I am in Suwon to visit a friend and hopefully see the Traditional Korean Folk Village there.

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