Tag Archives: kinders

Throwing Ethan Under the (School) Bus

So this isn’t a complaint about my school specifically, it is more about the “education as a business” model in Korea in general. Most of the time I can make peace about the practice, even if I don’t always love how it is implemented. It is, after all, how I make my money. But sometimes things happen that just absolutely enrage me.

We are currently doing “Open House” at our school. This means that the parents come into the school and watch their little darlings have a “class”. Of course, it is a total farce. For one of my classes I was told show my Reading and Comprehension class (usually 35 minutes), my Language Arts class (usually 35 minutes) and do our Speech Contest song. All in 15 minutes. Yah. It’s nothing but a show, and it’s annoying, but I get it. Show ’em the good bits. No warts.

That’s not what pissed me off. What pissed me off is how I was told to handle one of my little guys during the Open House. This little bundle of awesome is named Ethan, and although he’s not the brightest crayon in the box, he sure tries hard and he has been improving.

The issue is that Ethan took just about a month off to vacation in Guam. Lucky little turd. But in light of that, I was told to make sure that Ethan didn’t do as well as the other kids, so that parents could see how much children improve in a month.

What? You want me to intentionally embarrass this kid by making him look stupid in front of his friends and everyone’s mommy and daddy to try and show how awesome the school is? ARE YOU MENTAL? HE IS FIVE FUCKING YEARS OLD.

The thing is, little Ethan already was never going to do as well as the others; he’s behind in his reading. He *isn’t* as good as the others, he wasn’t even before the vacation. But he tries so hard and he deserved to be given the chance to do his best for his mommy.

So I gave him that chance. Because being a good teacher is trying to always do right by your little guys. And that little dude may have fucked up his reading a wee bit (as per usual), but he was good at answering questions and he rocked the hell out of the song. I was super proud of him.

The administration at my school, however, can do one at the moment.

Where would you like to go on a field trip? Why?

Okay, so I may have the wording of the question slightly off. I don’t have the lesson plan in hand. But that’s close enough to count.

I would like to go back to the Kid’s Café . ANY Kid’s Café.

So. What’s a Kid’s Café? It’s a place of awesomeness if you are a kindergarten teacher. It’s a big room full of soft, safe shit for the kids to go monkeynuts on. And we just have to watch.

It’s the greatest field trip you can hope for: A full day of no lessons, happy children, and free coffee. So much win.

Random Children Chatterings

There were a few gems over the last week or so. Thought I’d lump a few together into one post. Save us all some time.

Evan the Heretic

In one of the 11 years old elementary classes, we are prepping for TOEFL. One of the reading passages was about the death penalty (we’ve also covered the holocaust and a few other cheery topics).

Evan says, “I don’t need to read this. I know all about the death penalty.”

I said, “Oh really? What do you know about it?”

“Well,” he says, “I had the death penalty happen to me in a past life. They punched and kicked and burned me alive for saying that the earth went around the sun.”

That kid is too hilariously smart for his own good.

Stop Hitting Yourself

In one of my kindergarten classes Justin kept asking “who’s punching me?”… while punching himself.

Beer Cup

Kindergarten Ethan rarely answers questions correctly, and I loved this one. There was a picture of a glass that did look a lot like a pint glass. The children all guessed “cup” when I asked “what is this?”

I told them that wasn’t the correct answer. After a pause Ethan pipes up and says, “BEER CUP!”

That kid is going places.


So, one of our teachers doesn’t smell very good. As in, eye-wateringly bad some days. Last week he took to showering in Axe. He was teaching my kindergarten homeroom for a block, and I had to go in there after him. It stank so badly of Axe, I would have known he had been in there even if I didn’t know my kids’ schedule.

It was so pungent that I asked, “Was [teacher’s name] spraying something in here?” while miming spraying myself with something. It was so strong I figured he must have reapplied in the room. And that’s pretty fucking sick.

“No, Teacher,” Luna replied with her nose scrunched up. “That’s just his body.”

Awesome. Even the kids think he’s the stinky teacher.

Today’s News

That 2:30 class. I love them. Today during reading time, Jessica and Albert started reading like newscasters. Saying things like “Today on Albert News”, and then reading the page of the story like a newscaster. Albert would finish by saying, “Thank you to listening to my news. Over to you, John.”

John was singing his pages whilst dancing. And while he was doing that, Jessica and Ellie were miming taking pictures… the paparazzi.

But perhaps my favourite was Lilly. While the other four children were being monkeys, she just smiled her patient Mona Lisa smile, waiting her turn, and then reading as seriously and perfectly as she always does. What a kid.

First Day of School

First, a disclaimer or two

a. I am using the WordPress app to write this and it might be crapola.
b. I have skipped a post chronologically (about my first impressions of my new flat and getting it sorted) because I haven’t written it yet and until I put my laundry away I’m not taking any “after” pictures.

Disclaimers all done. Let’s crack on, shall we?

Get up, Get up, Get Moving

My first class is at 10:30 but I’m expected to be there between 9:30 and 9:45. First week, so I’m super-keener and defo getting there for 9:30. It’s taking me a good 20 minutes to walk at the moment (I think once I stop gawking at signs, I’ll be faster) so I’m trying to leave the house around 9:00.

Which means getting up at 7:30 so I can do healthy-good-habit-things like eat breakfast. It was pretty rough this morning, my sleep is still buggered all to Hades and back. I was also not happy with the fact that the voltage step-changer thing in my flat was obvs not working and my hair straightener got fried. Jodi Teacher was not having good hair today. And unless I can source a straightener, I’m going to be Hair-in-a-pony-tail Teacher for the next couple months until I can get my stuff from London shipped.

Once out the door, it was a chilly twenty minute walk to the school. It’s an easy walk though and there is loads to look at. One (warmer) morning I’ll take pictures along the way and share with y’all. Once to the correct building, it’s up to the 8th floor to get to ILS (International Language School) Dongbaek.

Before We Put the Spaghetti In The Machine

So. The teacher I replaced left in December. It was apparently kind of sudden, but I’m not sure the entire story. Whatever. But what that means is that there was no one to shadow on my first day. Which is an entire boatload of bad news bears.

I was handed the Teacher’s Handbook (which is one of those handbooks that doesn’t make any sense until you’ve started actually working), a class schedule (which doesn’t make any sense until you’ve started actually working), a syllabus (which doesn’t… aw, you see where I’m going with this). I was pretty confused. One of the “foreign staff” (read: white teachers) was as helpful as she could be while getting herself ready, and the Korean staff did their best but were also teaching all day.

Not a great start to the day, but you just got to get in there and muck in. My target for today was zero children deaths and zero Jodi Teacher break-downs. As long as we all survived, even if no one learned anything, I figured we were winning.


I would have said “zero children maimed”, but in my first week teaching ever (back in 2005, the first time I had a go at this) Ryan and Julia smashed heads in the “play gym”. Ryan’s teeth went through his lip. Blood everywhere. I’ve since adjusted my targets appropriately.


Class Acts

From 10:30 (apparently sometimes from 09:50, if I have to do “Circle Time”) until 2:30 I teach two different kindergarten classes. It’s hard to explain. I teach “Snoopy” class (they are all named like that) for 35 minutes, then I teach “Tigger” class for 35 minutes. While I’m teaching Snoopy, either another foreign teacher or a Korean teacher teaches Tigger. And then we switch classes and classrooms. This is very different than what I did before, so it’ll take some getting used to. The good thing is that the day goes pretty quick when you work in 35 minute blocks.

The kids in Snoopy Class are 7 years old and pretty much fluent. It’s not a very large class, and they seem lovely. Smart as whips and really eager.

The kids in Tigger Class are either 4 or 5 years old and I’m not sure why anyone thought it was a good idea for me to teach them. They aren’t fluent, they can’t really write, they can’t read and they are off the fucking walls half the time. But cute? You’ve never seen cute like this. One of the little buggers told me he loved me already at the end of the day and gave me a hug. Almost made having to tell him to sit down roughly 8,000,000 times worth it.

The Snoopy kids are totes my style. The Tigger kids are going to be a real challenge, but I’m sure it’ll be alright.

In the afternoons I teach a variety of elementary aged kids in 45 minute blocks. Not much to say about them yet, they are all bright and I don’t think any will be a problem. I have one super high energy class and one quiet class, both are challenging in their own ways but I think will balance each other nicely.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I teach until 7:10, but I have two hour-long “breaks” (should be lesson planning, but that’s easy compared to teaching!) during those times. On Tuesday and Thursday I’m done by 5:30, so it is all good.

Home Again, Home Again

Happily my last class didn’t have any kids show (it is the first day after hols, after all) so I was able to leave early. I walked home with the other foreign teacher, then tucked into a lovely ramen and beer dinner. To say that I’m completely shattered at this point would be an understatement. I’m so sleepy and it is only 9:30pm. I really wanted to get this written before I crashed though, and I have brought home all the papers that were on my desk to try and organise myself a little. I don’t know if the teacher before me was good or not, but the way she had herself “organised” does my head in. I think this will be a lot easier once I get myself sorted. Once I get that done, it’ll be early to bed for me.

My first day back teaching. It was exhausting and chaotic, but I’m also happy to be doing it. Which is a good thing.

Just as a last note, as I emptied my pockets and changed into my jammies, I found the following stuff in my pocket.


The two green… things… were confiscated. The piece of eraser was a present. Oh yah.

>What is This? The Year of the Jerk?


So, it was just the Lunar New Year. We are out of the Year of the Dog and into the Year of the Pig. I was happy to have a day off.  I had put together a story to explain to the kids about the animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac. I got the information from Wikipedia and dumbed it down for them.  Here it is.
Happy New Year

A long time ago, the Jade Emperor decided to name each year after an animal to help people remember what year it was. When the animals heard his idea, they began arguing which animal should be named first. To end their fighting, the Jade Emperor announced there would be a race to determine the order the animals would appear. All the animals would have to race across the river and report to him.
The cat and the rat were good friends. They were very smart, but very bad swimmers. They decided to cross the river on the back of the ox. The ox, being naive and good-natured, agreed to carry them. Halfway across, the crafty rat pushed the cat into the river. When the ox reached the shore the rat jumped off the ox’s head and claimed first place. The friendly ox was second.  The cat was missing.
The third animal to cross was the powerful tiger, who swam his best in the strong currents. Closely behind came the rabbit, who had hopped quickly from stone to stone in the river. Halfway though the stones disappeared, but luckily for the rabbit a log floated by that carried him to the finish line.
The dragon arrived in fifth place. The Emperor didn’t understand why such a powerful and flying animal did not finish first. The mighty dragon explained that he was not first because during the race he had to stop and make rain for all the people and creatures on earth. Then on the way to the finish line he saw a rabbit lost on a log in the middle of the river. So he did a good deed and blew the log to shore. That was why he was so late.

As soon as the dragon finished his story, the horse galloped up. As he did so, the sneaky snake slithered out of the horse’s hoof where he had been hiding.  This scared the horse so much it fell back, giving the snake the sixth spot. The poor horse had to be satisfied with seventh.
Shortly after that, the ram, monkey, and rooster came together on a raft that the rooster had spotted. The rooster shared his find with the ram and monkey who steered the raft and cleared the weeds.  Because they worked so well together, the Emperor named the ram eighth, the monkey ninth, and the rooster tenth.
Then the dog finally showed up.  He was a good swimmer but was having so much fun playing in the water he almost forgot about the race. The lazy pig became hungry during the race, so he ate a feast and then fell asleep. The Emperor was about to say the race was over when the pig finally showed up.
The poor cat had been swept so far down the river that by the time he walked back to the finish line, the race had been over for days and everyone had gone home. The cat was so angry that he promised to hate the rat forever.
The End

The days are just packed

>For being my “short” day – today felt like a long fucking day.


Today we had a “market” for the kindergarten kids. Basically, all the little monkeys brought in old clothes, toys, and books. We also had stationary and snacks. Then we gave the little hooligans 20 pretend dollars and sent them off while we manned the stations. It was pretty fun, actually. We had to teach them the language of shopping, and apparently every teacher thought bargaining was an essential part of shopping (must be vacationing in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philipines that did it). They are totally screwed if they shop at a supermarket. So it was fun because they would say “Teacher, how much is this cookie?” and I could say “5000 dollars”. Most would say “too much”, and we would go from there, but the quieter kids and the dumber kids and the younger kids would just hand you whatever they had and let you figure it out. It was mayham, but it was good mayham.


I was a little sore from Tae Kwon Do – I have pulled my… well, nearly everything hurts, okay? Everyfreakingthing. So I decided to go to the sports massage guy. And he tortured me for an hour. It feels good, but it kills you at the same time. It felt like he was trying to separate the individual muscle fibres. I think he succeeded. It was painful… but not the most painful thing I did today.


Today Tae Kwon Do was also painful because of the massage. And I was sleepy. I felt like I couldn’t do anything, and was very sore trying to do it. But we did start to learn to use weapons today – and that kicks serious ass. Even better… I wasn’t too bad at it and I thought I would blow. We are using “Tae Kwon Sticks” (I forgot the Korean for them – that is the English the Master told us and I think it sounds goofy as shit) and they rule. They are about as long as your forearm and you get two of them. They keep getting caught in my shirt, but I still like them. I thought I wouldn’t be any good with them because you sort of twirl them like a baton – and I had a silvery baton with tassels when I was 7 and I wasn’t any good with it. But I didn’t do too badly. And the sweetest thing is that we can buy our own. Whoo-hoo! Also, I should get a yellow belt after next week. More sweetness.


I was sore after Tae Kwon Do, so I thought I would go to the sauna to soak in their tubs, as I do not have one.

~Side Note on Muscle Soreness~

Can you believe I can’t find Tiger Balm in this country? What the?

~End Side Note~

While at the sauna, I thought I would try the scrub service, as it is only $15 and I could use some exfoliation as much as the next person. Some exfoliation – yes. What this half-naked Korean woman did to my body – no.

Remember that at a sauna you are walking around naked everywhere. So I walk (naked) to the scrubby ladies (who are wearing nothing but bra and panties – which is more than me) and indicate that I want the 15,000won jobbie. She doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Korean, but through pantamime and gesture we get on the same page. She has me lie face up on a pink plastic table. And then the pain began.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I thought it would be a little rough – it IS exfoliation, after all. However, I did not think that she would come after me like you would a dirty freaking floor. She had a glove on each hand that felt like those little green scrubbies you use to clean pots. And she started rubbing. AURGH! Not only was it ROUGHER than I thought – but she exfoliated in places that I didn’t need exfoliating. Like my armpits. Like my colon. It was really, really invasive. My favorite part was lying on my side, one leg up in the air and the other bent on the table so she could really get to my upper inner thigh. Oh dear.

In the end though it was worth it. After the scrub she massaged oil in (also everywhere – I should have tipped and lit a cigarette) and then hosed me down (definately should have tipped). I liked her; she would indicate that I needed to turn over by giving me a slap. Nice.

Now I’m off to bed ’cause I’m very tired after today. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m very happy that tomorrow is Friday. I definately could use another weekend.


Moms – I’m not dying of some weird tropical disease. The weird vertigo and nausea thing isn’t happening anymore, but I did go to the doctor exactly as you ordered. Although he isn’t 100% sure, the doctor thinks the sickness I experienced was due to my extremely (apparently) low blood pressure. It doesn’t usually bug me, but he thought the change in humidity, temperature, and altitude probably dropped it so low that I was near passing out all the time. Next time I will just have to ingest more salt. Who’da thunk it?

>One more sleep


Even though going to Thailand has been in the works for weeks now, it hasn’t felt real. It is starting to feel real now that I am packing bags and only have one more sleep until I get on the damned plane. And I’m a wee bit nervous. How did I go from never going anywhere to going everywhere?? This is craziness…

Not much has been going on this week except my absolute sickness and working. I even took a day off work, I was that freaking sick. I’m still not better, but I’m still getting on the damned plane. I don’t know how bad I would have to be before I would miss this trip… flesh-eating disease. Maybe.

Last week, a package came from my moms (thanks moms!) with many treats in it… I’m so happy about the cinnamon gum I’m giddy. But the best was a present addressed to “Jodi Teacher and her Monkeys… from Santa”. The kids went, well… apeshit. It was hilarious. They kept saying “Jodi Teacher, you writing? You writing, right?” And I kept assuring them that no, no… it wasn’t me. That “Jodi Teacher’s Mommy” said Santa left the present at her house by mistake and she had just sent it along for him. They bought it.


Christmas is fun with a group of people who still believe in all of it. The monkeys have been crazy this week – and every once in a while they break out in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, which is sung mostly phonetically.


The present ended up being “magic trees” that we could put together. Fun! The kids had a great time, and I took a bunch of pictures. They are at Flickr, if you want to see happy monkeys. I also took pictures of my PK (afternoon) kids. They can be cute sometimes too. I have to give them all tests tomorrow afternoon and I feel like a Scrooge. Merry fucking Christmas, bastards – write your damned test on the last day before holidays (insert evil laughter here).

So… I won’t be online until after December 31st. I WILL be on the beach with a beverage in one hand and a novel in the other. Aaron promised we can go look at monkeys (real monkeys, not Korean children). I should have lots of pictures (of MONKEYS) when I get back.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas everyone. I hope your holiday is happy, safe, and is spent with people you want to spend time with (I mean, as best you can without me there with you). And because virtual kisses just aren’t the same, consider this my IOU for a big, sloppy, drunken New Years Eve kiss, which you can redeem the next time you see me (no matter when or where that happens to be). Cheers!

Original Comments:

Jeanine wrote (on 27/12/05):
Merry Christmas Jodi!!! Miss ya and hope you have an awesome wicked trip!
Thanks for the card too. A little bit of news for you….Christa and Randy are expecting a baby in Aug 2006 and Brynn and Matt got engaged on her birthday! Lots of changed coming up. Nothing really new in my life. Bought a car last weekend, so I will be working extra hard now! Haha. Talk soon, be safe and drink lots, J