Since my last posting, I have been getting one question repeatedly: "Have you decided whether or not to renew your contract?"
Clearly, I have bungled my communications with you lovely folk. Let me be clear now. I was never, in any serious way, considering staying. I was grateful for the offer. Even a bit amused by it. Momentarily lured by the absolute ease of saying yes.
For approximately 15 seconds.
"Well, why?" you ask me.
Lemme roll up my sleeves and tell you why. Oh, I'll tell you why.
Consider my life.
Last Wednesday, I taught the 3rd grade. Until this semester, 3rd graders have been a treat. A joy. Starting this semester, I was slapped rudely awake by these monsters
They won't sit still.
They won't stop talking.
They won't follow directions. Or perhaps, can't.
It's utter anarchy. My co-teacher, the one who asked me to stay, is teaching them as well. It's up to her to teach them their classroom English, their call and responses, their English-time manners. But these little beasts are raw and wild. After a month of school, they still don't know the basics.
When I say, "everybody look at me!" they should say, "look at YOU", pointing at me, looking at me, being quiet.
When I say, "everybody look at me!" they chatter, they run around, the choke each other, the pound their tiny fists on each other's heads, they cry, they carry on, they leave me looking around like a jackanapes hoping to catch someone, anyone's eye. Just doesn't happen.
When we play the Quiz game (a personal favorite of mine, as it's usually popular with the kids and quite effective), it's another riot.
How the game should go? They line up in two lines, I ask the first two students in the line a question like "How are you?". The student who answers the fastest gets to sit down, the slowest gets back in line and tries again. The line (or team) that gets all its members sitting down first, is the winner.
How the game actually went? The kids shout answers at me without listening to the question. I say "How are you?" they say, "My name is Jenny!" I say "...Jenny...how are you?" "My name is Jenny!"
I say "What's your name?"
Team 1 kid says, "My name is John!" John sits down, proud and accomplished.
Jack, Team 2 kid, also sneaks back into his seat. Before I can call him on it, I see Little Big'un pounding a student in the back of line. I stop the game, separate the fighters, try to continue.
I say "how are you?"
Team 1 kid says, "I'm hungry!" smiling big.
Team 2 kid pauses, five kids scream "YAA!! How are you, you ginormous turd!" and he screams at his attackers, arms flailing, "YAA! Don't call me a turd you stupid stupids!"* and then he starts to cry, runs to his seat, puts his head down and keeps crying.
*I am interpreting for you here, as most of this exchange happens in Korean.
Everybody stares at him. Everybody stares at me.
Except, of course, for Little Big'un at the back of the classroom who isn't paying attention to any of this because he is the process of taking his best friend's arm (a boy literally half his weight) stretching it out taught, and karate chopping it in the middle.
Oh, excuse me. Tae-kwon-do chopping.
He's chopping, the cryer's caring on, I'm trying to force my face into some sort of adult expression mimicking sympathy and not show my true feelings - annoyance - while preventing an arm breakage, and not cringing at the kid in front row who is suffering from early onset deafness and autism, who keeps SHOUTING out answers at the top of his lungs, even though no one is talking to him.
And my co-teacher, the same woman who asked me to stay, is standing at the front of the class room, fiddling on her phone, taking notes on some unrelated subject, abandoning me to the caprice of these pint-sized piss-ants. And yes, that same woman looks beyond startled when I call her name and ask her to stop yet another student from sucker punching the little boy in the seat behind her, in the face.
And that was one period, out of four.
So there you have it. One day in the life. One colorful, archetypal example. No, no, and no I am not staying here.
It is time - most definitely time - for me to move on.
Not saying that all days are like this. Not saying that teaching is bad, that Korea is bad, or anything like that. Just saying...They are helping feel ready to try someplace new.