Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kindie love

The Bear Necessities, originally uploaded by shelbs1988.

I spend the first four hours of every workday with K-blue class, a kindergarten class of 12 highly energetic, extraordinarily affectionate, over-eager, and often-exhausting Korean 6-year-olds. Every morning, I arrive at work at 10:00am after walking the two minutes from my apartment. I walk down the hall to the same scene every day: Jean peers around the door and yells back into the classroom, “Shelby Teacher is come!” while Lily skips out into the hall and Joseph jumps up and down. As I walk into the classroom, I am doggie-piled from all sides by kindergarteners as six or seven little bodies slam into me screaming, “SHELBY TEACHAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!!” “How is everyone today?” I ask, prying my kids off me. “HAPPY!” they respond. And so, my day starts.

Yes, at work I’m “Shelby Teacher,” give or take some mispronunciations. Shell Teacher or Shel-buh Teacher are about as close as some of my little ones get. Although, because my kids are six and because Korean has a slightly whiney lilt to it already, it’s usually less “teacher” and more of a warbling “teachaaar.” From the beginning, though, I’ve been very happy to be Shelby Teacher and not Miss Fields, or some other title that feels far too adult and proper, the amount of respect I am given simply for being a teacher is alarming enough. (I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to parents nearly twice my age bowing to me.) But I digress…

I know I’m not supposed to have favorites but kindergarten is hands down my favorite class to teach. In kindergarten, the smiles abound. Not only am I given the leeway to be creative and teach what and how I wish, but my kindies are the sweetest, most affectionate, unconditionally loving group of children. Everyday I receive a year’s worth of hugs, love, and admiration. Joseph will shamelessly interrupt me with “Shelby Teachaar…I love you,” as I explain how question marks are used or quiz the class on their dictation words and Lily will always find ways to show her adoration, offering compliments like “Shelby Teacher is vaary pretty today, I think,” or “Shelby Teacher veeehry veehry smell good.” Not to mention the gifts. To date I have received numerous drawings, home-made cards and crafts, a cactus, an instant coffee gift-set, a whole pizza (unfortunately smothered in none other than mayonnaise), and a blueberry cake, all from eager six year-olds absolutely quivering with the excitement of giving their teacher tokens of their love.

Kindergarten logic has not failed to amuse me. For example, they figure that if North America and South America are separate continents, then Africa and South Africa are surely separate continents since hosting the world cup clearly is an honor great enough to earn a country continental status. (I’ve quickly learned that Koreans are born and bred soccer fanatics. There’s rarely a day that passes without the mention of the World Cup, Park Ji-Seong, or Manchester United.) All silliness aside, their innocence six-year-old wisdom is always heart-warming. The week that we learned about great people of the world, Heidi very anxiously asked, "Teacher, if we no take care of world it is ouch?" We proceeded to put big words and concepts into kindie-speak; in all of their innocence, they remembered protest as “say NO!” and freedom as "people catch and no more catch, they go."

As for their curiosity, my class has made a point of finding out everything about me, every detail of which they remember and recite with pride when the opportunity arises. Joseph likes to interrogate me on my soccer knowledge (which is pitiful say the least), and while he’s reciting which player from which country is playing for what club in what other country, the other kids will passionately remind him “Joseeeph...Shelby Teacher no like soccer! Shelby Teacher like basketbaaaalllll!!"
The girls all like to remind me that they know I’m a dancer right before they demand to see videos of me dancing on YouTube (of which there are none). They also not only know who Jerry is and that he’s from Romania, but have dubbed him “King Jerry,” can find Romania on a map, and are practically counting down to December when they will finally get to meet him.

Then there are the everyday comments that are nothing but hilarious. Just the other day I was teasing my kids for wearing their down parkas when it was nearly 60 degrees outside (Koreans have a very low cold tolerance). Lara and Sarah just laughed and said “Teacher, we look like Antarctica!” But Claire wasn’t having it. In her most serious 6 year old voice, hands on hips she said “Teacher. We are children.” I got told. A different day during lunch, one of the tables erupted in squeals when Hannah dislodged a whole baby octopus from her spaghetti. “Teachaaarrr! Why octopus no move!!???” Hannah shrieked. (In Korea, live octopus is a delicacy.) “Hannaaaah. Octopus no move because it sleeping!” Jean rightly informed her.

No matter how exhausting teaching and taking care of twelve six year-olds can be, mornings with my kindergarten always warm my heart with lots of glowing kindie love.

1 comment:

Zach said...

This is great, all great.