So I’ve been teaching for a few weeks now (3?) and it appears as though I haven’t written a single post about my students!
My kids, my kids, my kids. When they’re good, they’re really really good. And when they’re bad, it can ruin my whole day (although I’m working on not letting it!)
I would like to preface this post by saying that when it comes to loving my fifth-graders, I’m mostly referring to the English Program class I teach. I think of them as my “honors” students. I also teach 5 “regular” fifth-grade classes that generally don’t run as smoothly and mostly just drive me crazy (but I’ll save that for the “5 Reasons My 5th-Graders Drive me Crazy” post).
Back to the task at hand:
5. They give me gifts
Apparently the younger ones give more gifts more often (my coworkers have been known to receive everything from a brand, new purse to an entire meal from their kindergarden students), and if you’re a male foreign teacher you may even receive gifts in the form of homemade baked goods from doting female Thai teachers.
Yesterday morning I walked in to the teacher’s office to find an anonymous note wrapped around a free pass to the movies on my desk. This has been my favorite – and probably most age-appropriate – gift so far, but noteworthy mentions include a singular jellybean, an individually-wrapped marshmallow, a very strong mint (is this a nice way to tell me my breath smells bad?), an eraser, and some trinkets from Hong Kong’s Disneyland. I’ve tried saying “no, thank you” and that just confuses them so now I just accept whatever I’m offered.
4. They are old enough to speak like adults yet still young enough to be silly
Ten years old. Some are eleven. It’s that time right in between childhood and adolescence, making them a perfect mixture of both. I love that my kids are old enough to understand some abtract thought and ask me challenging questions (“Teacha, what does ‘hailed’ [from the American national anthem] mean?”) but I can still play “touch your head! touch your ears! head! ears! head! ears!” with them and they think it’s hilarious. Or anything with zombies is funny too.
3. They like to sing
In one of my regular classes, I somehow introduced the idea of music and singing (wonder how that happened…) and everyone was pointing at a girl saying she liked to sing. They all got very excited about the prospect of her singing so I asked her if she would like to stand up and sing a song for everyone. She did and everyone clapped for her. Then I told that group of girls to bring me a list of English songs they liked so I could learn them and we could all sing them. The next class they handed me the lyrics to “The Show” by Lenka. Couldn’t have chosen a better song myself! I think I’m going to use it with all of my classes now.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out one of my “regular” classes singing happy birthday to my friend from back home:
2. They make me laugh
I’m always impressed when my students are able to make jokes in English. Humor is really hard in a second language, so if I can tell they are trying to be funny, I always encourage them. I once taught my students the colloquialism “yall.” I showed them where it is used on a map of the US and how it comes from “you all.” One of my students said, “Teacher! ‘We all’ is ‘wall!'” and he pointed to the wall. Very funny, thank you!
On a different day, we were discussing natural disasters in my “honors” class and the kids were shouting out different types of natural disasters as I wrote them on the board. “Avalanche!!” “Earthquake!” “Tsunami!” They were starting to run out of ideas. It got quiet and then – “The world blow up! The world end! 2012 – the world end!” I smiled and laughed. Of course, yes, 2012, the end of the world. Very good.
1. They are eager to learn and eager to teach me a few things as well
During the same natural disasters conversation: “Teeeacha! Teacha! What it is when the road go-” Nai gestured a collapsing road with his hands. “Sinkhole.” I said it slowly and wrote it on the board. Everyone repeated it a few times and wrote it down. The best vocab words are the ones they think of themselves.
Anecdote 2: A snack cart comes around to all the classrooms around 2:15 serving various treats I’ve never seen before. I asked one of my “honors” students, Aut, what they were eating. He said it was medicinal jelly (Oo, good word, Aut!) and asked me if I wanted to try it. “Okay. Sure!” He went to the cart and brought me a bowl of black syrup with ice cubes and jelly pieces the consistency of Jell-O. It was tasty but very very sweet – I couldn’t finish it. Aut took the bowl back out to the cart for me. “Thank you, Aut. It was very good!”
Anecdote 3: I was trekking the well-worn path from the “Thai side” to the “English side” of the campus when one of my “honors” students said hello: “Hello Teacha Michelle. Where are you going?” I told him. He asked me if he could help carry the workbooks I was lugging around. I let him carry half of them. How helpful!
Anecdote 4: Last but not least, I asked my students to teach me the Thai national anthem (Phleng Chat Thai) that they sing every morning at assembly. They became very excited by this task, transliterating the whole thing on the board for me and showing me how to pronounce it. Then, I sung the Star-Spangled Banner for them. They thought the melody was beautiful – a song, they said, they would sing to a child to soothe him if he were upset.
Well! That’s it for now. Today was easy peasy cause all of my students were away on a field trip all day. I didn’t have to teach at all! It was a nice surprise. I wish I could have every Wednesday off – what a great way to break up the work week!
Tomorrow is another full day of teaching but Friday is a special in-house academic activity day, so we’ll be playing English-related games with the students at stations around the school. It’s also payday, which I’m really really looking forward to…