Today I kept my promise and played soccer with the 5th and 6th grade boys. It was one of the best things I have honestly done in a long time – Their playground is a huge soccer field full of dirt – yet every single kid is out there running around playing dodgeball, soccer, baseball. Their actual playground is very small and made of hot metal slides so when it’s sunny out the slides are too hot to play on so most kids don’t play in the little playground (you can see a photo below of the field and the metal playground)
When I walk around during lunch it feels like I am in another world. All of the apartment buildings surrounding our elementary school is where most of these students live. My school is a very good elementary school with higher levels of English however there are still many students with low levels of English. Elementary schools are everywhere in Korea so almost all kids just have to walk a couple blocks to school. There are no school buses since there’s an elementary school built every few blocks. Here are some pictures of their playground:
It makes my day when I see all the kids enjoying themselves outside. They don’t need a TV, computers, games to keep them entertained. They just need a ball and to sprint around with friends laughing and enjoying themselves which is exactly what they want to do. Not saying they don’t watch TV or play computer games because they definitely do – but they also deserve it since they go to school 12-14 hours a day every.single.day. so it’s fun to see them sprint around playing. (Education is extremely, extremely important in Korea. Most students go to regular school all day until 3:30ish then go to private Academy for English/Math/Science where some students don’t get home until midnight each night. They even go to school sometimes on Saturdays. Many elementary school children have private academy until 7-8PM every night. So when you ask students how they are doing they always respond “Oh teacher we so tired! We have English Academy” so when I think of my own elementary school it seems like a breeze. But I will go into that in another blog since I could write a whole essay on their education system!)
My original plan was to surprise all of my 5th grade classes that I brought my tennis shoes to play with them today but for some reason I was nervous to tell them so never mentioned it in class. When lunch finally came around my co-teacher went to tell the students and I heard them yell “WHAT! with their hands to their faces and all look around each other with excited faces then they yelled YES!!! from a far. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them eat lunch that fast haha – Also for fun…here is a picture of a typical school lunch in Korea. You are always given metal chop sticks and a metal spoon and rice and soup is always served everyday.
I then walked out to the playground/soccer field by myself thinking okay no other teachers are out here…and I am the only adult… (teachers don’t watch students during lunch so they don’t have a supervisor so I stand out even more than I normally do). So I akwardly started walking into the sandy field thinking okay do the kids really want to play with me? haha But of course then a student ran up to me and yelled TEACHER TEACHER! CAROLINE TEACHER IS HERE! PLAY DODGEBALL! and all these kids sprinted in circles around me yelling HI CAROLINE TEACHER! HELLO TEACHER! HELLO SAN SAEM NEIM! (teacher in Korean) So then I played dodgeball and the kids were soooo excited…”GIVE BALL TO TEACHER!”
After a few minutes a boy sprinted up to me and took my arm and said TEACHER! SOCCER TEACHER TEACHER SOCCER! and so I ran with him to the soccer net and all the kids screamed and jumped up and down….no exaggeration. Then they gave me the ball and I scored a goal and they all freaked out and said NICE! TEACHER..YOU GOOD! – I put everything in caps because their excitement is off the charts haha if you ever need a pick me up…talk to these kids…say one word in Korean and they all clap their hands and are basically showing you how proud they are of you haha Today I read the story “The Very Busy Spider” to my students and every once in awhile I would stop and ask them what a word was in Korean – they love it and I always tell them that they help teach me Korean and I help teach them English 🙂
I then set up passes to the other kids so they could score. and then I scored a few more times and even missed the net twice but the students still yelled “IT OKAY TEACHER YOU ARE GOOD”…the goalie boy was actually really good! (He’s pictured below in green shorts) I always have respect for a kid who wants to play goalie..it terrifies me. I like to score…not have the ball come at me!
Then 10 minutes later a group of boys playing baseball sprinted over to me yelling BASEBALL TEACHER!!!!!!! So I went and played baseball with them…I threw the ball…which wasn’t the best throw in the world but at least it went towards the boy…and they yelled OH TEACHER YOU GOOD! – hahaha I seriously love these kids. Here are some great photos of us all – notice their faces. All so happy and cute
The joy I see in these kids face can’t even be explained. They have so much fun. All my co-teachers who speak English said I will now have a “fan club” and I will be their idol for playing with them. They said “the students will love you forever” – In lunch for a split second I thought maybe I will just wait until next week to play with them – I am so glad I didn’t. It was one of the best days I have had here in Korea and I will forever remember how excited I made them spending just 30 minutes playing during lunch…and if only they knew how happy they made me too ❤
A whole blog post dedicated to 30 minutes playing with my students. There’s something about kids and the way they love life and are so innocent still and just want to have fun. One of my favorite moments of each class I teach is when we sing songs…sometimes I see the 5th and 6th graders not singing much but then I sing louder and sometimes do funny dance moves and they join in. I don’t want them to loose that silliness yet and I always see it come right back out in them…these kids I tell ya…there is something to take away from them…
Until next time,
With love from Korea,