Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Few Stories from Class

When I walk around my classes observing their group conversations, sometimes the students look up at me as they are sitting.  Whenever one particular student, Lena, looks up, she says in a Korean accent, "Teacher!  You have big nose hole!"  Her particular class is full of girls, as there are eleven of them, and only one boy.

All the other girls would chime in, "Teacher!  You have big nose hole!  Teacher!  You have big nose hole!"  Apparently, I have what is called a "high bridged nose," which is the reason for my abnormally large nostrils, by Korean standards.

I would then proceed to put my chin up in such a position to make me able to pretend that my nostrils are my eyes, and I am looking at my students through them.  I would flare them to make them appear even bigger.  The class would then then erupt with, "EEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!!  Teacher!! You are so ugly!!"

I always respond with, "They are not nose holes!  They are called nostrils!!"

I shave around once a week, and when the five o'clock shadow becomes it's darkest, some students begin to notice, and comment. One of my other fourth graders, Jan, while touching her cheeks, would say in the most concerned manner in a Korean accent, "Teacher, you need the chuck, chuck."  Apparently, to Koreans, "chuck chuck" is the sound of a kiss, and it is an expression that is used to describe moist healthy skin that is worthy of being kissed.

At first, I would respond in the most reassuring manner, "Ok Jan, I will be sure to get the 'chuck chuck,'" as I touch my cheeks also.  I later asked the Korean woman who handles all of our questions and problems, "What does 'chuck chuck' mean?"  She laughed, and explained it.

As an English teacher, I feel it is imperative that I respond in a grammatically correct manner, whenever comments such as this arise.  So now, I respond with, "Ok Jan, I will be certain to shave, and moisturize the skin on my face in such a way to make it worthy of being kissed."

Sometimes I can be bad at remembering names.  I've gotten better, but there are some that I can never seem to remember.  I have a sixth grader named Elaine.  For some reason, I always call her Olivia.  To me, she looks more like an Olivia than an Elaine, and the two names register similarly in my mind, so I always call her that.  We'll be in class, and I would ask a question from a random story that was read, "How did So and so do such and such?  Olivia," I would say pointing to Elaine.

She would look at me with a playful scowl.  She would say absolutely nothing for what would seem to be a very long time.

"Teacher, my name is not Olivia,"  She would say very calmly in a Korean accent with a hint of playfulness, and a little bit of agitation.  "My name is Elaine!!"

I do the same thing in another sixth grade class, one of my larger ones.  I have three girls in that particular class who all look sort of similar.  Their names are Sherry, Penny, and Lucy.  For some reason I call all three of them Sherry.  The names, Penny and Sherry, register similarly in my mind, so I always call Penny the name, Sherry.  Sherry and Lucy have a similar height, build, and demeanor, so I call Lucy the name, Sherry, also.  On a random day in that class, I would ask a question, "What did So and so do during such and such?  Sherry!"  As I look directly at Penny.

Penny is laid back and quiet, but still extremely sharp, and attentive.  She would stare at me with her Korean eyes behind a pair of glasses with blue frames.  Apparently, from my experience, all Korean sixth graders react similarly when called the wrong name.  Penny is so calm, as she doesn't move in the slightest bit.  She would give me a blank stare with a hint of playfulness, and slight agitation for what seems to be a very long time.  She would say calmly in a Korean accent, "Teacher, my name is not Sherry.  I am Penny."

Then Sherry would chime in.  "Teacher!  I'm Sherry!"

Whenever I call Lucy the name, Sherry, she would say nothing.  I would know, when I hear an, "AAAAWWWW?!  Teacher!  I'm Sherry!" from Sherry.

I would, later that night, call Lucy during our required telephone interviews, "Hello.  May I speak to Lucy please?"

There would be a pause where nothing is said.  I would continue, "Lucy?"

After the long pause, she would finally speak calmly in a Korean accent, "Teacher, my name is not Sherry..."  There would be another pause and she would continue, "Today, you called me Sherry.  My name is Lucy."

"Ok Sherry- I mean Lucy, I'll remember that,"  would be my response.

I've gotten to the point where I no longer do it accidentally.  Now, I never call the mentioned girls by their actual English names just to get a rise.      


  1. Chris, it sounds like your having a great time and doing a great job!! Have you told Lena that she has the same name as our Grandmother? Its not a very common name, at least in the States, but I love it!

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