A few weeks back, Joe had an extra day off from his teaching gig at Sindo Elementary. Instead of sleeping in while I schlepped to work, mentally preparing to face the noise of my kindie kids after a luxuriously peaceful four-day weekend, he came into school with me. I tell him stories about my students frequently, brief vignettes from my day along the lines of: “Albert told me he got three points in Taekwondo class yesterday,” or “You’ve gotta meet Charley. He clung to me all the way down the hall during bathroom break today, dragging his little feet behind me and saying, ‘teachuh, you have-uh foh legs.’”
Joe teaches public school, grades 3-6, so his classes are much bigger than mine and he sees each of them just once a week. My hagwon kindies fill three hours of my morning, five days a week. I know what they eat for breakfast (rice and soup, mostly) and what they do each weekend (Playground, nintendo, trips to Lotte-mart). I know who wants to be a baseball player and who wants to be a lawyer. (After six-year old Cooper informed me he would follow in his lawyer-father’s footsteps, I asked him, “What do lawyers do?” “Make money,” he said.) And I know who’s got a crush on who: Christina likes Dustin, Sunny likes Ruby, and Louis and Monica have had a thing since day one. If my Korea life was a book, these kids would be stamped on page one, in permanent, vivid ink.
So Joe’ s been hearing their names for months now. A while back said he said he thought it would be fun to teach them with me one day. The day came in September. The kids played “Teacher Says” and a new version of “Telephone.” They got to pick their own team names (with only 10 seconds to choose) and had to make a line from shortest to tallest without speaking. When they took their spelling test, which included the words “frog,” “weatherperson,” and “florist,” Joe sat down at one of the little desks and took it with them.
He was a major hit.