Here I am with my coordinating Korean teacher and our class full of overly energetic kindergarteners. Check out the 2 boys in the middle of the first row. I can't help but think of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes when I look at their faces.
This week has been horribly busy between work and home life. Perhaps due to the shorter week since we had Monday off for Chuseok/Jong Chou Jie. Or from Raelynn getting her first fever ever (which is now thankfully gone). Or from catching up on household chores including dragging out the fall and winter wardrobe and packing away summery things. OR...maybe these kindergarteners are more exhausting than I thought!
After almost a month of teaching kindergarten, I've fallen into a routine. It's a fairly easy, albeit slightly annoying job. We do the same kinds of things each week with some variations to keep them on their toes. But one thing that never varies are the kinds of things that they say. Here are 10 of the most commonly uttered things from my students:
This is by far the most spoken word by all of them. It precedes everything they say and every other item on this list. So as you read this, just imagine a long and whiny "teacherrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" right in front of all of the following items and you will accurately be simulating my daily work experience.
2) "I have to go to the bathroom!"
With children this young, it's not a great idea to let them decide when they should go to the bathroom. Otherwise, they'll just wind up wandering in and out of the room during lessons. I take them twice during our 3 hours together. Once right before our morning snack so we can all wash our hands too and once right before lunch time. Now that I've gotten to know them, I can tell who really means it when they've got an emergency and who is just trying to get an inch and take a mile. Despite these bathroom breaks incorporated into our routine, these children, without fail, will bug me to take them to the bathroom. EVEN IF WE JUST WENT. Man, is that annoying. I can bet money and win on any given day that they will ask me to go to the bathroom right before snack and/or lunch. And there is ALWAYS someone who didn't use the toilet when we all went who whines that he/she must use the bathroom. Teacherrrrrrrrrrrrr's response? I use one word that my husband always says to me: "Endure!" It makes me smile inside and out.
3) "I'm hungry!"
This one is very, very cute actually. I'd be shocked if someone's parents didn't feed them breakfast before sending them off to school. They arrive at school around 9am. Then, it is snack time at 9:20am. Lunch is at 11:50am. The children are very well fed. But I do know the feeling myself. I eat breakfast each morning and some days I am so ready to chomp off a limb before the snack comes (I get a snack too! Woohoo!). And then by lunch time, I am definitely ready to eat. So when my kids tell me they are hungry, I usually smile and tell them, "Me too!"
4) "I'm hot (or cold)!"
It never ceases to amaze me how some of these kids will be on opposites ends of the extremes. I send a newsletter home each week and on it, I asked the parents to please send their children with a sweater just in case they get cold. At any given moment, one of them is unhappy about the temperature in the room and will whine incessantly about it.
I'm on the fence on this one. It is really cute sometimes because Koreans don't do consonant blends. When you Korean-ify an English word, there are some extra syllables added in. Koreans find it odd to just end a word in consonants. Like the word "sausage" for us. They call it "sausagie." And that is adorable. The word "finish" is the same. Until you have an entire room of children yelling "finishie" no matter how many times you tell them to raise their hands quietly and wait for you to come check their work.
6) "(Name) is speaking Korean!"
Ever since I introduced the play money into the classroom, the children have really gotten into it. They like having me count it, though now, I am pleased to announce they can count it in English all by themselves (most of them, anyway). They now realize that if they are good, they can earn more money and if they speak Korean during English class, they will lose money. So with this realization comes a surge in tattling. I must hear this one at least 10 times a day. Albert is my most commonly outed student here. Ryan is my tattle-tale. There's always one isn't there?
7) "(Name) hit me!"
And if Ryan is my tattler, he is my instigator as well. I get no end of complaints about him hitting someone else. It's no wonder since he can't seem to keep his hands to himself. I catch him most of the time, but other times I'm busy dealing with some other disaster in the classroom. I can't punish him if I don't see it. But if someone is crying their eyes out, I know it's not made up and the offender gets punished.
I hate hate HATE when the children ask me this. Because it means they aren't listening AT ALL. Few of them listen well. One of my best behaved though slowest students kept asking me this the other day and I had to swallow the scream that nearly bellowed from within. They will just hear "playtime" when I speak and not the other words that surround it. For example, I'll say very loudly and slowly: "Ok, class! If we can all be good today and do our work, we will have playtime." I think all they hear is: "wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah playtime."
9) "(Name) is looking at my paper!"
This is also an annoying one and the looker is always punished. I can't stand it when they can't keep their eyes on their own papers. Do you think the kid next to you who eats paste is a reliable person to cheat off of? I always tell them to ask me if they have questions and inevitably, one of them tries not so stealthily to look at their neighbor's paper. After I hand out a timeout, anyone else who even thought of cheating raises their hand and asks me to help, which I am absolutely happy to do. I want these kids to learn something and not just copy shit down. Maybe that flies with other teachers in the world, but not with me.
10) "I lost my pencil/eraser/red crayon/etc.!"
These kids are ALWAYS losing something. What's annoying about this is that they seldom will tell me before I begin teaching the lesson when they should be getting their supplies from their cubbies and then sitting down quietly. Oh no. Of course not. They interrupt and loudly whine about not having a pencil (which they had earlier in the day) or an eraser (which is likely right under their chair or even more likely, in the center of the room where I will wind up stepping on it) or they are missing a certain color crayon or SOMETHING. I can't go one day without this kind of situation afflicting my students.
They might whine. They might cry. They might scream. They might run through the hallways. They might run and hit and cause a kerfuffle. But despite these many flaws, I am finding myself becoming quite fond of my students because I can see the hidden potential each of them have within. It's humbling to think I can give them the keys they need to unlock it.