What I love about my students:
- The fact that even on my worst of days my students can cheer me up instantly
- They get excited about the smallest things like getting a stamp for winning a game. “YES TEACHER! I WIN!!!” stands up and cheers loudly
- They love telepathy game or word lotto even though the games are so simple
- The way they play Rock, Scissors, Paper – anyone teaching in Korean can understand this – “Kowi-bowi-bow” (in Korean) and can Rock Scissors Paper in a group of 10 students faster than I can even say Rock Scissors Paper and know who wins or loses. I’ll never understand but I love it every time.
- The moment I yell out “Happy Friday!!! Fire Friday!!!” and the students instantly cheer and get so excited. Every. Single. Week.
- The amount of love I feel for these kids even with a language barrier
- When I see a student improve from last years test scores to this years test scores. It’s the greatest feeling.
- When the 1st & 2nd graders come into lunch and they stare at me with huge eyes wondering why I look so different even though I see them everyday.
- My office is outside the 2nd grade classrooms so 2nd graders often come up to me and talk in full speed Korean. I love those kids. And I also love that I can speak a little Korean back to them now. (Korean students take formal English classes starting in 3rd grade)
- When a younger student who I don’t teach has the courage to say Hi or Hello to me in the hallways
- The small amounts of food that the students get on their plates at lunch compared to teachers. I think it’s cute. Only 1 little scoop of soup and 1 piece of fruit and each student is trying so carefully to carry their trays without spilling to the table.
- When the homeroom teachers have to help their 1st and 2nd graders eat lunch. “Okay one more bite… (feeds them a bite of more rice)” *Korean students have to finish all of their food on their plates before leaving the lunchroom. They have one student or teacher in every class check every kid’s lunch tray before they can go play outside. They are also given all of the same food. There are way less food allergies in Korea than America.
- When I speak in Korean and all my students cheer loudly “OH! GOOD JOB TEACHER!!!! AMAZING! SO GOOD!”
- When students play with my bracelet and always ask what it means (Live Lokai bracelet my brother gave me
- When my students boost my confidence with their unconditional love and compliments everyday.
- When I see a student outside of school walking and they are across the busy street but still manage to yell out “CAROLINEEE TEACHERRR!!! HELLO!!!!!!!!”
- When students are proud of the sentences they wrote or the pictures they draw “Caroline Teacher! Here! Look! Look! Funny?! Good?!”
- When there’s that one student who doesn’t care at all about English or you as a teacher but then one day you break them and they enjoy the class and start talking to you
- When I go to my own Korean class and realize how incredibly different English and Korean are and how freaking hard it is….I respect my students even more and can understand their point of view better
- I love the innocence of my students but also love when they become 6th graders and kinda know what’s going on in the world. Like when boys and girls realize they like each other and it becomes awkward. I find it hilarious and adorable. “ohhh is he your boyfriend?!!!!” “NO TEACHER!!!”
- They can tell when I make a joke or speak in Korean with a bad pronunciation and they think it’s funny
- They are so incredibly talented. More talented and skillful than I ever was in many things…like drawing, instruments, math, science, languages (but they also work so hard at everything they do because of private academies)
- I like when there’s sporty girls who just don’t care (the majority of girls are grown up without playing sports, etc.)
- When I can remember the student’s names – I teach over 500 students so if I can remember a lot of names I feel really good
- Whenever I ask if the kids went to PC방 (방 = bang or pronounced bong…literally translates to PC room…they are everywhere in Korea. Kids and adults play computer games for around 1 dollar for 1-3 hours) they all laugh and love that I am interested in it. LOL –league of Legends…Sudden Attack….Overwatch!
- When students give me simple gifts like a highlighter, erasers, candy, pens, stickers…they are so proud and I am so happy
- Sometimes when my 6th graders take tests, I also take a Korean test along with them so I have to write in Hangul as they write in English. They think it’s hilarious (so far my highest I’ve gotten is 2/5…Korean grammar is so hard to write in my defense haha)
- When my 4th, 5th & 6th graders sing so loudly with their all happy energy
- When students hold my hands as they talk to me
- When students randomly give me hugs “I love you Teacher” ❤
Being a teacher is a really meaningful job. I understand my students are just kids and they will probably forget me in years to come but if I can make their childhood a little bit better and shed some light on it while helping them learn then I feel I have done my job. It’s hard sometimes being a teacher because you care so much for these kids but you also can’t control what their outside lives are like. For example in their own families. I have heard some heart wrenching stories and I have seen it firsthand and it’s tough. But as a teacher our job is to make it safe and comfortable at school and to have fun while learning. I am proud to be a teacher and to see my students succeed.
Am I a good student myself? Not really haha Yes I study and like to learn but these kids work way harder than I ever did as a child. Their focus is purely on studying but I think that I always have had a passion for learning new things and when something sparks my attention then I want to learn. I hope that my students feel the same with something in their own lives, whether it is English, Math, Science, Sports, or Technology. Anything to keep them going in the right direction.
I want to be a good role model for kids. I want them to know it’s okay to have fun and to laugh but that learning is also important. Learning English is a skill set they can use for the rest of their lives. I also understand that you really don’t NEED English in Korea to live a good life. But there are many of my students with big dreams of careers or traveling (yes they are young but they have to decide their career in middle school) so if I can help in anyway I can then I will.
Most importantly, these kids have changed who I am and who I strive to be. Patience, acceptance, cultural differences, similarities in children around the world, the simplicity of being a kind and generous person, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to grow.
Love from Korea,