My cup runneth over

I think my blog boils down to two main topics:

  1. I’m stressed and tired, whine whine complain complain.
  2. I’m happy and the kids are hilarious. Isn’t life great?

Hopefully I’m giving you more of the latter than the former – and today is one of those happy days. The title of this post pretty much sums it up; I can feel my heart brimming with love and joy and contentment on a day like this.

*     *     *

The girl who is rapidly becoming one of my favorites, whose English level is extraordinarily high and who is also hilarious, approached me today between class periods and said, “Teacher, I want to ask you a question. I went to English academy, but I quit because too much homework. So I want to practice speaking English, but there are no teachers I can practice with. So I want to practice with you. During lunch period, can I practice free talking with you?”

She was thrilled when I said yes, of course she could (“Really? Really, Teacher? Thank you!”). I guess she might’ve expected me to say no, but I’m also thrilled at the opportunity to help someone who really wants to learn, as well as to form a more personal connection with her. We’re starting in a couple weeks, once her midterms are over.

*     *     *

The “How about…” suggestions lesson continues to spur hilarity:

“I’m crazy,” said one of my kids.

“How about going to a mind hospital?” his classmate suggested.

When I said we would call it a “mental hospital,” they thought it was hilarious… I think “mental” is a Konglish word, a word that Korean has borrowed from English but it has a slightly different meaning, so they recognized the word “mental.”

*     *     *

In my smaller school’s after school class this week, we did activities related to the song “Lemon Tree” by Fool’s Garden. The kids all know this song and adore it, and I’m not sure why. (They latch onto very specific, and in some cases obscure, pieces of American pop culture.) But I like the song too, and it’s very fun to see how happy they are while they listen and complete a lyric gap-fill worksheet.

Today one of my favorite kids was joyously singing the chorus in hearty tones while his classmate cried, “My ears! My ears!”

After they finished the lyric gap-fill, we did a super fun activity that I learned during my TEFL certification course: I gave each student a slip of paper with four words from the song. I played the song again, and each time they heard one of their words, they had to stand up and then sit back down. There was some overlap in the words everyone had, and I made sure everyone had at least one or two frequently occurring words from the chorus, like “lemon,” “yellow,” “blue,” “sky,” etc. – so during the verses only a few kids would stand up, but during the chorus we had an adorable choreography of students popping up and down like whack-a-mole. It was so cute. And the kids thought it was pretty fun, too.

Then I asked them to sing the whole song together, and to my surprise they were ready and willing. So we did. They sang well and without a hint of embarrassment or self-consciousness. (Reminder: these are 2nd grade middle schoolers we’re talking about, so 14- or 15-year-olds.) It was, again, adorable.

*     *     *

There are so many other things that I can’t write a whole post about, but they are the tiny things that keep my heart happy. How we laugh when I accidentally give points to the wrong team and the students cry out in alarm. The kids who slap their own cheek when they say the wrong thing. When a kid somehow miraculously guesses the answer to the hidden picture or 20 Questions game right off the bat. The students who poke their head into my classroom on their way to another class, just to say hi (or make a heart over their head with their arms). The moment when my instructions click for the whole class and there’s a chorus of “Aaaaahhhh” (pretty much the audible Korean version of a light bulb moment) followed by “Teacher, OK. Start.”

I know, I know, I’ve repeated myself ad nauseam about how great the kids are, how happy I am, etc. etc. But this blog is my outlet for my emotions here, and most of my emotions have truly been either joy or stress/exhaustion.

However, I really want to make an effort to post more pictures. Maybe that will be my goal for the month of May: post pictures on a weekly basis!

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