I have many nicknames.
I’ve been called, Yo-lim, Kimmy, You You, Yo-yo, Limmy, Limsanity…You…
But one nickname my parents have given me that I particularly don’t enjoy at this age is “grandma.”
I nap a lot when I’m at home. I feel tired everywhere I go, and as a result, can fall asleep anywhere I go. I shuffle around the house in socks, curl up on the sofa, and fall into a food coma almost every day after lunch. So, okay mom and dad, I can see why you call me “grandma.” But, after this past week, I have fully embraced my “grandma” culture.
Brandon, James, and I were in charge of teaching adorable little 3rd graders at Jiguchon this week. But for every ounce of adorableness they possessed, they had two ounces of energy. I think Valentina put it best when she said that she said that she felt like the kids were sucking her lifeblood out of her and using it to fuel themselves. Evidence for this is best shown by the seemingly increasing energy levels of the students corresponding to weaker and sicker teachers as the week went by. This strong correlation warrants further study.
Whereas last week, we tried planning many interactive activities to try to get kids involved, we found that doing too many interactive activities only made the kids harder to control. I can’t count how many times we held up our fingers to our mouths and said “shhhh,” or just tried to get their attention. Even the homeroom teacher had to step in and take some students out of class on a few occasions. So, with me being sick at the beginning of the week, and Brandon and James getting sick near the end of the week, we needed a new game plan.
I kid you not, we came up with a magical activity that got all of the kids be in their seats, focused, and generally quiet all at once: drawing. Once we passed out paper and gave out instructions on what the students should draw (seasons, food, their dream job, etc.), every student had their eyes glued to their papers and got to work (for maybe 15 minutes, but hey that’s a victory). Although we know the kids enjoyed it, we also would employ drawing time for ourselves. That’s the only time of the day when each of us could sit down with the kids, not yell at them, and relax. It also gave us time to talk to the kids about themselves and their interests, and it helped us build trust and companionship with them. Sure, they called us “teacher” when they wanted our attention, but both in and out of class, they wanted us to dance with them, act with them, be a robot for them, do magic tricks for them, and summon ghosts named “jelly jelly” with them (their commitment to this last one was slightly concerning).
So, it is no wonder that at the end of a week playing the role of a teacher, dancer, actor, robot, magician, and ghost whisperer, I and the other teachers were exhausted. But even as the dark circles under our eyes got darker, and our skin color got paler, the kids seemed to enjoy everything we did for them. That’s why we are there, aren’t we? To give the kids an extra sense of companionship in a country that isn’t their own, where sometimes even their own family isn’t there to support them? As tired as I may be, it feels good being dragged by the arm by a student who wants me to sit with them at lunch, or when a problem student actively takes an interest in talking to me and volunteering to do activities in class. 3rd grade kept me on my toes, and I’ll come to miss them like I miss the 6th graders. But for now, I need to recharge before taking on the even more energetic 1st and 2nd graders.
So, please excuse me; I’m going to take my grandma nap.