Thursday, February 19, 2009

Snowy Night

On Tuesdays and Thursdays our last class ends at 6:40, and from 6:40 to 7:30 all the teachers have prep; whether prep always happens during that time is debatable, but so is whether A-Rod is a juicer, right? Ha pft. So on Thursday we played some game in my last class, a good time was had by all (or maybe just by the winners), and at 6:41 I was waiting for one last kid to finish copying the homework from the board so I could shut the room down when our vice-director poked his head in the door and said, “Go home and get some rest, Mr. Haggar.” Ah, how my heart leapt up in my chest! Every so often we get sent packin’ at 6:40 instead of waiting until 7:30. So this was my chance to walk home instead of take a cab; on my way I could stop at the post office and get some stamps for some postcards, a task that had loitered on my counter for eleven or twelve days too long.

After waiting until 6:46 for the kid to copy down the homework assignment (I wrote it in Afrikaans, that was why he took so long to write it down), I struck out for the P.O. It’s a huge building, with many doors and gates and entrances and exits, all of which were closed. The place appeared to be open only during hours that I was shackled at Poly School. My spirits suddenly fell, as did both the reservoir of sinusitis-caused yellow snot from my nose and the beginnings of a frigid snowfall upon our quaint borough of the second-biggest city on the planet.

In the same way that this night seemed to be heading, this week should have been awful. I’d come down with an awful sinus infection, which I didn’t really tell my mom about but which I am sure she figured out I had, as I exchanged several e-mails with my dad about sinus washes*. I still do not know if I’m doing them exactly right, but they are uncomfortable to do, so at least I am doing that part correctly. But. During the earlier parts of the day, with the pre-schoolers, I have some zip and can still be fairly comfortable while being awake. But when 3:00 hits, and the five- or six-class block begins, the pressure in the sinuses increases, and I plow through the next four hours with a headache. The physical comfort of the morning is negated by the slippery slope that my upper lip becomes, and by the Walruses. So by the end of the day, my head continues to hurt, I feel real tired, my legs hurt, my back hurts, and my fingers hurt, the last of which causes me to pull landscaping duty. Every time.

There is more than just physical impending doom plaguing me. Eleven days from now is a day for which I need just the right name, something reminiscent of “Black Friday” or “Black Tuesday,” but less racially-charged. Please send title suggestions for this awful day to hagreu@bethel.edu. But wait! Before you do, let me tell you why such a title is necessary.

On Monday, March 2, the next semester begins. A curveball, a change in routine, new kids, new faces to learn, what have you. Always inconvenient. But what really is not going to go over well is the fact that our workday is being extended. I have written about this before, but, to recap: currently we get about two hours and ten or fifteen minutes to prepare for ten classes, but the new schedule will allot us one hour and ten or fifteen minutes to prepare for eleven classes. I am pretty dang tired after the day we have now; what will it be like in two weeks? Who knows.

As if this new schedule change were not enough, the day following March 2 (which, for those of you keeping score at home, is March 3) is the day that Scott flies away from Seoul and back to the northwestern region of the United States. His departure will leave huge gaps in the life I have become accustomed to: Who am I going to go eat fried chicken with every Monday? To whom am I going to report the menial events of my day when I can’t let them linger inside me any longer? Who am I going to seek for advice after I get caught checking out some pre-schooler’s mom? Who am I going to get crazy with on New Year’s? Who am I going to talk sports with? Who’s pirated television shows am I going to watch over pizza? Who am I going to quote “The Big Lebowski” with, or Chappelle?

So the waves of change are here, and, by the looks of things through the wheezy haze that I can peer out of right now, times are about to get exponentially tougher. Though I should be dreading the times to come, I am somehow not disheartened. Why? I know not. Perhaps because this potentially-disastrous week has gone fairly well. Good things have happened. I have laughed enough to meet my quota. I walked into my third grade class and someone stuck a note to my back that said, “I am crazy…-Mr. Hagger.” Two girls from the same class gave me unexpected Valentine’s candy. A first grade girl told me how she wanted to be a midwife someday (which was especially entertaining because she’s got the limitations of being a first grade ESL student to describe this through) and how she estimated that I was about five months along with my baby and how I should call her when I have it. I asked this kid who is “graduating” from Poly School where he was going next, and he told me, and so I asked him if I should go work there, and he said, “Yeah! Do it!” in this excited voice. The same kid, a member of the single most unenthusiastic class in the history of both man- and womankind, has been asking me all these grammar questions and vocabulary definitions in the past couple weeks; he’s just shown a huge interest in learning English. Another class begs me to show them this Scatman video at the end of every class period; one kid downloaded the song and made it his ringtone. Some fifth grader one day showed me and the next day wrote without looking this word: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis. I thought I loved the English language.

Activities have been coming to me like beautiful women instinctively flock, in a way reminiscent of the salmon of Capistrano, to Aspen. Besides the ones mentioned in my previous post, which I am most proud of, we’ve taken temperatures and highs/lows (source: Joyce Roddy, Mahtomedi, Minnesota). We’ve played trashball (source: Randy Groen, Prinsburg, Minnesota) an unhealthy amount. We’ve staggered through “Steal the Bacon” (source: Shannon Schlick, Kansas City, Missouri) in gym (not without one girl crying, and a pre-schooler beating me to the bacon two times). We’ve viewed a Muppets version of “King Midas and the Golden Touch” (source: youtube.com…aren’t they all?). We’ve drawn clowns all hour (source: Emily Teacher, Seoul, South Korea). We’ve crawled through “The Quiet Game” (source: any smart teacher ever). We’ve watched Barry Sanders highlight clips (I wanted the Orcas to call Sarah “Barry Sanders” when she came over to teach them…but only because she told the Walruses to call me “Wiggly Bear,” a title that my hips and I relish), discussed “Fight Club,” used a pre-school cut & paste worksheet in two first grade classes, medically aided the victim of a very grim bloody nose, laughed at fart jokes, and filled out report cards. A lot of them.

Despite every reason to be dreading the future, the Lord continues to shower me with both snow and strange, childish happenings that make me smile and make me glad to be doing what I am doing right now. Even as I stalked down the long one-way street in the rainy snow or snowy rain and tried, unsuccessfully, to shoot a Montana-sized snot rocket out of my nose and into the grass without getting most of it onto my coat, I was not forgotten. I stopped into the J.R. Mart on our street, the one where the cash registers always have the same music video from some really cute Korean girl band playing (why else would I go there?) to get orange juice, Pringles, and laundry detergent, and the lady at the cash register tried speaking to me, crabby as I was, in English, and it made me laugh. I left feeling better, and I felt better still after getting pizza (which I still haven’t put in the fridge, two hours later) with Scott and Bernard and watching “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for a while. And I will feel even better after I give my face a haircut and my sinuses and salt water bath and go to bed. I am fine. Even though, if you've been keeping track, my diet consists of 1) fried chicken 2) pizza 3) Pringles 4) salt water, taken in nasally 5) orange juice 6) belated Valentine's Day candy 7) the salmon of Capistrano 8) laundry detergent.

*For those of you unfamiliar with sinus washes: go stick your face into the ocean, and inhale deeply through your nose. And then pull out your fingernails with pliers. My favorite part is when a slimy mixture of snot and salt water drips back down into the cup from which I am inhaling. Do I keep inhaling? I will not tell, in an attempt to still have a shot at dating someone in the future. But, let’s be serious for a minute: nothing gets me going like a sinus wash at 7:20 each morn.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Educational Self-Evaluation

As I’ve written before, I teach two different classes of pre-schoolers: the Orcas and the Walruses. I adore the Orcas and, actually, I can’t say I despise the Walruses anymore, although I did for a while. But they do require a lot more prodding and management. In thinking about them (which I do when I sleep and when I wake), I realized something about them and something true about my whole teaching approach.

This analogy won’t mean much to anyone, really, except those poor dears who had to listen to me complain about it during the notorious “Fall ’08: Lamest Semester of College.” I can explain it well enough, though, I think. The Orcas are like the classes I had at Mahtomedi High School, home of the Zephyrs, alma mater of a one Clayton Celiberti, user of ineligible football place kickers, and host to the first of my two student teaching placements. I taught two classes with Mrs. Roddy at M.H.S., and each of those classes had awesome kids in it. The reason that the kids were awesome was that they were very interactive with me; they wanted to talk to me, to hear my stories and share theirs, and dialogue with me, be it about the book we were reading or wild weekend stories or the White Trash party that I’d shown them pictures of. Once the time came for class to start in Best Sellers, and everyone was talking. I came to the front of the room and quietly started to say something, and Chris, who wasn’t the most academic of students but was a fun kid, told everyone to be quiet because “Haggar is about to tell a story!” The students there were just kids I could relate to and (this isn’t creepy because the partakers of Best Sellers were eighteen-year-old seniors) would definitely have hung out with if I'd gone to high school there. We had spectacular discussions about some of the books, but we joked around a ton, and I laughed a lot while teaching them. They were cool, and they wanted to interact! That led to minimal classroom management; there was this mutual respect; they didn’t give me a hard time and stayed focused on our discussion, and I wouldn’t come down hard on them. Except when Buttermore was leaning over two desks to peek at answers. I see the same qualities in the Orcas. They are pretty cool kids! Dabin’s idea of a funny joke is repeating something I say but adding “not” to the sentence. “Orcas, open your books to page 139.” Grin. “Do not open our books to page 139.” David greets me every morning with something different: “Good morning, Cookie Monster!” “Good morning, Miss Poodle!” “Good morning, Mr. Paul!” Paul was the previous teacher. Bah. Every morning I ask them if they’re having a thumbs up day or a thumbs down day, and Jarry just waves his hands in the air and says, “Mr. Reuben, I am crazy!” and runs up to the front to collapse in this big blue cushioned chair. Every day. They are funny! They listen well, and they participate in whatever meaningless activity I conjure up, so I don’t yell at them (unless Eric punches someone in the eye). We have a pretty chill class in the Orcas class, just like we did with Best Sellers and English Honors 9. Cool kids. Cool class. Pleased teacher.

The Walruses! They are gray hair makers. They remind me much more of my second student teaching placement at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale, Minnesota, home of the Skyhawks (I think), the Cool Down Room, the infamous kid who, upon my arrival there, raised his hand and said, "Mr. Hay-gar? Can I tell you something? No offense, but you really look like a monkey," and the volatile hormones of nine hundred or so middle school ruffians. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed certain facets of my experience at Skyview, but to sum it up, on one of my last days, the special ed teacher pulled me aside and said, “You know, the classes you’re teaching have some of the roughest kids we’ve seen in a long time. Don’t let this ruin your idea of middle school teaching.” There were some good kids, kids I genuinely liked and could count on to answer discussion questions, but the vast majority- and let me explain here that I understand that most middle school kids are like this; it’s the developmental stage they are in- were completely self-absorbed and had no desire to interact with their teachers. Their attention was focused on their classmates, friends and foes alike. They did not like discussions. Any games we played were chaos. My jokes fell flatter than usual. Unlike the students at Mahtomedi, they did not see how interaction with the teacher could be beneficial; they did not adhere to this “classroom management through mutual respect” idea, the one that I’d seen modeled so well through John McDonald, Brian Daoust, and Chris Wright. Assuming that they would play by those rules was my biggest mistake. As soon as they sensed that I wanted to have more of a hang-out classroom where we talked about the subject matter, they took advantage of it and did whatever they wanted. Boo. I can say, however, that I learned from it. Being a super strict teacher and then lightening up later is much, much easier than coming in, introducing a nice persona, and then having to tighten things down. “Don’t smile during the first week,” said Mrs. Roddy. “Don’t smile until Christmas,” said Scott’s parents, teachers the both of them. So! The Walruses! Like I said, I learned from my days at Skyview; I didn’t just come to the Mok-Dong Poly School hoping to make pre-school friends. I was strict from day one. But the Walruses are impervious (vocab word, week nineteen, count it) to classroom management. I will spend three whole minutes yelling at them for all gathering around one girl and making fun of her until she cries, and in the silence that follows my tongue-lashing, some girl will say, “You are Mr. Silly Face?” But their behavior isn’t really what I want to highlight: it’s their inability to interact with me and their preoccupation with what else is going on. Again, I don’t think I can legitimately say, “They are wrong to be into themselves and not want to talk with me!” They are five or six years old! I am simply pointing out the parallel that I see. There is a social clique in the Walruses. Think “Mean Girls.” Plastic. I am not kidding. There is a girl who shall remain nameless (if you e-mail me I will tell you her name, and more) who rallies students against other students, hits and kicks, and makes fun of the kids who you can tell are already a little bit off kilter socially. She is a habitual screamer, worse than Orvis, even. She stands on the table. She climbs things. She messes with the computer. She distracts and corrupts students I would tag as “good” or “well-behaved” and prohibits them from experiencing the full educational experience of pre-school! Ha. Or maybe that is a part of it. But she doesn’t care. She speaks in Korean, all the time, which would be fine, except that that is the one hard and fast rule at our school: English only, 100% of the time. Enough about this blossoming Jezebel (not to be confused with the “lusty sin wagon” that the YouthWorks! Sault Ste. Marie staff manned last year, which went by the same name). I will try to solicit opinions from the Walruses, only to find that they are conducting a discussion of their own, often in that prohibited tongue, of who is stupid and who else is now also a leper because he or she is friends with the stupid kid, which occasionally leads to pouting or tears, or me yelling, or both.

I must also add that I love love love some of the Walruses…some of them are way sweet, they listen well, they go around and pick up all the paper scraps and scissors unprompted during arts and crafts, they hold my hand when we walk to the bus and want me to fling them into the air (and then they want to “jump” me, so they hold me hands and I jump as high as I can and they feel strong strong strong), they put the garbage can on their head, they give me candy. Probably I’d like to just hang out with any of them and play, but teaching them is a different kind of animal.

So the parallel is there, if only to me. Mahtomedi’s classes were fun and interactive, as are the Orcas. Cue applause. Skyview’s classes were difficult and a chore, as are the Walruses. Cue the rotten tomato toss. Thus, my conclusion is that even if conversing with the students leads to some off-subject discussion of how a kid’s father had a boyhood friend who stuck his head and upper torso out a bus window to wave and hit a tree and died, I enjoy that much more than trying to get the kids to stop texting or whispering or to listen or whatever we're supposed to do here. Teacher-student interaction is critical to me. I don’t like lecturing very much; I need to ask students if they understand or even if they know a word that I just used, even if it isn’t particularly important to what we’re talking about. When I read to the Orcas and Walruses in the library, I read the page and then usually ask them if they like whatever was on that page, or what they think will happen, or some question that will disrupt the quiet that may have fallen over them, just to feel connected and engaged with them. I would hate to have me reading to me. I can see this trend in my conversations every day, too. I ask questions. I don’t like talking about myself at length (even if I do it…sorry, suckas).

So. That is what I learned this week.

Some examples: on Wednesdays I get to teach grammar, and I didn’t spend long enough planning each of the six lessons, and none of my students were interested in it at all. This came after having a meeting the previous night about the details of the aforewritten contract changes; we are losing over half of our prep time, adding one class, and lengthening a couple others. And, from out of nowhere, the possibility of working on Saturdays reared its grotesque and awful face. So! Wednesday sucked. That night I spent a lot of time thinking, “If my lessons all suck now, like they did today, what is it going to be like when I have half the time to get ready for them? Yikes.” So I was kind of bummed, but I realized that I needed more interactive lessons; I needed something to keep the kids interested. I am happy to report that the last two days I have had some sweet classes. Disclaimer: this is where I might brag big time, or credit the Education Department at Bethel with doing something right. You pick. But read with that grain of salt in miz-ind.

Thursday: the curriculum called for the teaching of “alphabetical order,” a fairly easy concept. I decided to show them how to do it, and then have some hands-on learning. I told my first grade scholars I had a game, but that it probably wasn’t going to be very fun. The class got divided into three teams. I put up a list of every kid in the class and told them their team would get 100 points (what did they get if they won? Ha! Nothing!) if they were first team to get the list in alphabetical order. I did teachers’ names and subway stops, too. It was awesome. They got super into it, and I felt real good about it.

Friday: we were supposed to pick a topic and then write details about it. Each detail was supposed to pertain to one of the human senses. As an example in the first class, they picked “Mr. Haggar” as a topic. This is basically the point at which everyone in the class hurls insults at me, but they say some funny stuff. They all felt my arm and said I felt “bushy” and “hairy.”Then I had to go around and let every kid smell me. In the second class, some kid picked “Mr. Haggar’s dirty sock” as our topic, so I took my sock off. I hauled it all around the room, and each kid would get kind of close and think about smelling it, but then he or she would shriek and get grossed out, and maybe hide under the desk. I summed up their reactions as “bad,” and my sock looked “old,” sounded “boring,” and felt “soft.” Then Evan, who is kind of a pest in class but who I secretly like, slowly came up and slowly stuck his tongue on my sock. I swear I didn’t make him. It was good.

Conclusion conclusion: the more interactive my classes are, across the board, the better each class will go. Maybe it is not the same for everyone. And it is okay if you do not care about my teaching style and you weren’t really interested at all by me processing the experience, but you’ve read this far, you poor sap. Happy Valentine’s Day! I wish you the best on whatever romantic expenditure you have planned to celebrate this, the illustrious day o’ love. I plan to walk thirty-five minutes to see if the post office is open, color some coloring pages from “Madagascar 2” as thank you notes for my Korean co-teachers, read “The Dharma Bums” for a while, and maybe learn Korean words. Not to use at school, of course.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bits and Pieces: January Edition

*DISCLAIMER*

The following is reminiscent of the stories I think I tell quite frequently. You may recognize similarities between this post and my reports on the day if you've had the misfortune to have hung out with me before. By that I mean that most of them are funny in context, to me, and I feel obligated to try to share them, but I know that most of them probably aren't funny to anyone except me.

*I was walking home and saw a McDonald’s delivery moped.

*We were talking about…something in a class, and some girl volunteered this sentence, based on my five o'clock shadow: “Mr. Haggar has a tiny little beard.”

*So obviously I was like, “Cindy, I’ll show you a beard!” And even though I only had like three minutes to finish up the lesson, I decided to forget about it and go find some pictures from last spring when Mr. Haggar had a big gross beard, but as I was opening up site where I keep my pictures backed up, the internet connection went dead! It was like a sign from God. It was unreal. And so the lesson continued, minus any facial hair photos.

*My class was doing a workbook page that instructed them to brainstorm the word “change” and write down every word or phrase that came to mind. When they were done, I asked what they’d come up with, and these two fifth grade girls looked at each other and said, “Obama!”

*Four or five of the teachers take a cab home from school each night, and someone always has to sit shotgun and give directions in broken Korean. Finally the others quit babying me and I ended up up there, after being here for almost two months. From the back, they cheered me on, telling me, “You can do this!” and “Use your Korean words, Reuben” and what have you. We made it back alive, but deep down I hope that the cab driver knew perfect English and thought we (or maybe just me?) were a bunch of idiots.

*I was humming the Indiana Jones theme and this pre-schooler named Jack said, “Hey, I know that song,” so I said, “The Indiana Jones theme song?” and he said, “Yeah.”
And then the next day I heard him humming it himself.

*My grape jelly actually has grapes in it.

*Scott said that one time when he was in high school he and his cronies duct-taped forties to their hands…they said everyone was “Edward Forty-Hands.” I guess this happens often to the high schoolers, but it must have passed me by. I wonder how that happened.

*Every so often, out on the streets of Seoul somewhere, a little Korean kid will be walking by me with his or her mom and say, “Hi!” or “Hello!” as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. It usually makes my day.

*One of the other teachers at my school was telling us that when he was in high school, there was a substitute teacher who only had one arm. The kids called him the stubstitute teacher.

*Two of the other teachers came to school one Tuesday morning and reported that this Korean woman had come home at three in morning the night before, completely drunk, and decided to start banging on the door across the hall from one of the teacher’s apartments (allegedly her boyfriend’s?). She kept this up for a solid hour. One of the teachers went out and yelled at her and threatened to call the cops; the other allegedly had already been up because someone next to him had been audibly coughing and vomiting.

*I have seen a lot of blurbs like this, but I get a kick out of them every time. This was printed on the wrapper of a pastry I had for breakfast one morning: “Breaday. Taste and enjoy your happy time. We have been making effort in searching of best tasty and quality to serve you. This bread is made from high grade material with our best wish. Enjoy the sweet and refresh yourself.”

*Every so often some of the kids in the pre-school class that I don’t like will say that they want Mr. Paul (the previous teacher) back.

*The first day that I was at Poly School, I was simply observing classes. I went to a random pre-school class that was on my schedule, and the teacher wasn’t there yet, so I just leaned against the wall in the back. Obviously all the pre-schoolers turned and stared curiously at me, thinking, “Who is this guy? Why is he in our classroom? How did he get that big gap in his teeth?” My next move was crystal clear to me, so I did it: I grabbed my belly and gave a hearty, “Ho ho ho!” They loved it. They begged for more. “Again! Again!” they laughed. Finally the teacher came in and it was all over…or so I thought. It turns out that arts and crafts was in store for this class, and their project was to cut out a Santa mask from this art book and then glue cotton to the beard and the ball of the cap. I swear every student came up to me when they were done and wanted me to put their mask, however poorly they had constructed it, over my face and to laugh. I obliged. To this day, kids from that class still walk by me in the hall, point, and say, “Funny face!” And I innocently ask back, “Me? Who?” and, if they’re lucky, give one or two “Ho ho ho’s.”

*The second weekend I was here, Ten-Mile-Britt, Megan Schwartz, and I decided to go see 'Twilight.' I was completely exhausted, and my legs hurt real bad, but I hopped on the subway and went to the sixteen stops to meet them anyway. We watched it (in a huge huge theater that puts AMC to shame, and also we brought in Quizno’s sandwiches in and everyone had food, it was cool) and then parted ways. The subway stops running at midnight, and I got on there at like 11:40, but I had like a forty-five minute trip to make. So after a couple stops it ceases to run, and I get out and exit the subway to find that it is raining. I've still got all my nice clothes on and school stuff with me, and I am super tired. It then takes me no less than forty-five minutes to hail a cab. It sucked. There were a ton of other people trying to get one, and it just seemed like the idiots were being picky on who they picked up, based on where they wanted to go. Finally this guy stopped for me, and I was trying to tell him where I wanted to go, and he couldn't understand me; I seriously repeated my destination ten times to him. Then, in my desperate state, I got out my map and tried to show him, but he made me lean way in and write the name of the place out. I wrote it, and he was like, "Oooooh..." and then told me how I should have been pronouncing it. I was way off. Sigh. So we drove off, he being this awesome, nice man, and me being this ignorant, idiotic kid from Iowa, and occasionally he would look in the rearview mirror and say the name of the place again, and I would repeat him. While in traffic I saw some dullard lean out of his cab and slowly vomit down his chin and the side of the taxi; it looked like mashed up sweet potatoes. Finally, at 1:30 AM, I get home and crash hard. Bah.

*The students at my school are not supposed to speak in Korean, and in one of the classes that I dislike quite a bit, some girls compulsively speak in Korean. This super smart kid named “Tomato” or “Tornado” (I can’t tell because of his Korean pre-school accent) Steve kept yelling, “No Korean!” Then in his sketchbook he drew a sign that said “No Korean!” and another one that said “Yes Say English.”

*We were going over a list of vocabulary words in the Orcas pre-school class, and I asked if anyone knew when to use the word “going,” and Dabin raised her hand and said, “My grandfather is dead.” I started laughing and so did the Korean teacher, who happened to be in there. And then a bunch of other kids raised their hands and contributed to the discussion by telling about their deceased ancestors as well.

*One morning Scott had to chase the bus as it rode away from our apartment. He sprinted about a hundred meters after it, hair a-flyin’, causing many a quaint Korean citizen’s head to turn. He didn’t catch it, but by the time he gave up the pursuit, he had left the quiet area near our apartment where no taxis come and entered the zone of heavier traffic. Yup.

*Fact: last fall, at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale, Minnesota, on my first day of student teaching, this kid raised his hand and said, “Mr. Hay-gar, can I tell you something? No offense, but you look like a monkey.” And it occasionally brought a smile to the faces of the sorry saps who had to listen to me talk about it.
Fact: I got a haircut last Thursday, and in four or five of the classes that I teach, I walked in after getting it and many, many students said, “Monkey! Mr. Haggar is a monkey!” And they carry on and on about it! Where is this coming from!? Is it really that bad?!

*We have been studying prefixes in the first grade classes. I asked the class to think of some words that have the prefix “mis,” so some kid said, “misspell” and some kid said, “misuse” and then some kid said, “Miss Haggar.” Way to go, Sunny. Then I made this giant review packet and threw in a bunch of words that they didn’t know the meaning of, and a different first grade girl ended up asking me what “lustful” meant. A different teacher used the packet, too, and didn’t appreciate the humor in including obscure adjectives.

*Scott won 2,000,000w (which would be around $2,000 if the exchange rate would get better) at a poker tournament over the Lunar New Year Weekend.

*Usually when I go into my pre-school class, all the kids bellow, “Gooood moooorning, Mr. Reuuuuubeen,” but one Tie-Day Friday I came in and Andy yelled, “Good morning Mr. Necktie Man!”

*Barack Obama came up in my second grade class, and I asked the class if they liked him or not. The teacher’s pet of the class asked me if I liked him, and so I said, “Yeah, I voted for him, too.” Then, as serious as can be, she said, “Mr. Haggar, why? You are white.” It was weird.

*A couple weeks after I got here, it came to light that most of the other teachers assumed that I was a stoner, for no reason other than my laid-back approach. I recently lost my flash drive, and while I was searching for it, Paul said, “Reuben, you really are a stoner…stoners always lose stuff.” I recall this pot-smoking assumption also being the reaction of a one Gina Myers-Schulz after meeting me at Bethel…

*When we were learning about topic sentences and supporting details, some first grade girl chose the topic “Mr. Haggar” and one of her details was “Mr. Haggar has small hips.”

*This one isn’t Korean (not that many of these factual events really are) and it is kinda hard to believe, but, I implore you: believe it. I was walking home one night and this seventeen- or eighteen-year-old girl ran by me laughing, and then this individual who had a box over his/her head also ran by me, chasing the girl.

*Something got lost in translation: multiple teachers have heard students comment on how “sexy” someone looks or how they think something someone is wearing looks “sexy”; these students clearly miss the connotations or, rather, the dictionary definition of the word…

*This third grade girl had a sheet that was written in Korean from a different academy out, and I saw it and asked what it was. She tried to hide it, because no Korean is allowed to be spoken within our walls, but I took it and tried to read it. All the third graders gathered round me and cheered me on while I sounded out these two Korean words that I didn’t know the meaning of. It was sweet. When I got it, they all yelled, “Yea!” The tables had been turned, somehow.

*I am the youngest teacher at Mok-Dong Poly School.

*Earlier I wrote about trashball (“40 Days and 40 Nights”), but since then, more sweet stuff happened during different games. THE SAME PUNK KID who earlier made a ten-point shot (refreshing: a ten-point shot requires that you sit on the window ledge at the back of the room and shoot) nailed not one but two shots in another game on Wednesday the 21st! It was amazing! The day before I had kicked the kid out of class, my first victim of that horrific action, but the next day he redeemed himself with those two shots. It got better (if you are sick of hearing about trashball/trivial stories from my day, your options are: a) go hop in a running woodchipper [if you can catch it] b) check this out: http://kr.youtube.com/watch?v=zt_KfBaRWxs c) just skip down to the next asterisk, because I am not done discussing it) as the day progressed. In the next class, on what came down to the last shot, the score was 15 to 10. The team with ten had the last shot, and they could go for five, to tie, obviously, or go for the win with the ten-point shot. This kid who’d I’d been telling to sit down all class period (I sense a theme…) went for the ten-point shot to win, and he canned it. His team went crazy as he leaped down from the window ledge. It was awesome. It made me think of the time Tim Madson hit a three with like one second left to put B.U. in the playoffs last year and this shot that Chris Paul just drained two days ago to beat the Pacers (the video is from some dude’s cell phone, I think it’s sweet). And so I showed those two videos before we played trashball in the next two classes. I made a game-winner later, too, but no one cared.

*Scott, Bernard, and I ordered some pizza and, while we waited, the other two got a couple of beers and were innocently drinking them. Scott finished his and smashed the can; he then attempted to throw it Frisbee-style into a garbage can that was ten or so feet away. Instead of coming close to getting into the garbage can, it bonked off the window of the pizza place that we were standing in front of. All this happened right while some family walked by.

*I showed this clip from Family Guy in which the family is in court and Peter gets sentenced to twenty-four months in prison and everyone says, “Oh no…oh no! oh no…oh no!” And then the Kool-Aid guy busts in and says, “Oh, yeah!” I showed it four or five times. But! Now this girl always says it to me, whenever I correct papers. I come by and she says, “Oh, no…oh, yeah!” in this deep man voice. Stud.

*In my first grade class, we were going to tackle the idea of "details." The book's lesson was dry (as usual) so I decided I was going to put up a picture and make all the kids tell me about it, i.e. soliciting details from them. I thought to myself, "What picture could I use? It'd be fun to use a picture of someone I know." So needless to say i put up the picture of Justin Juntunen crowd-surfing at the February edition of Lissner 403’s Halloween party junior year. I have included the picture for those of you with short-term memory, marijuana addictions, or the purely rotten luck to have missed said dance party.



Anyway, some different comments, no, sorry, different details that came to light:
"He's shouting"
"He has a very big neck"
"He is like a singer" (who crowd surfs?)
"There is red and white string all over the wall" (yes, i pointed out to young Kelly and to the entire class that it was actually toilet paper...)
"His hair is golden" (any hair that is not black, including mine, is "golden" or "yellow")
"Everyone is reaching for him"
"He is holding to a...a blue thing. What is that blue thing?"
"His foot is on the wall!"
This is my favorite: "He has very small teeth"

*Pirated photo (piracy victim: Sarah McCarthy...thanks, Ms. McCarthy!); these are the [beloved] Orcas:



*Pirated photo (piracy victim: Sarah McCarthy...thanks, Ms. McCarthy!); these are the [it is in the best interests of all involved for me not to type the word I want to insert here...although they are growing on me] Walruses:



*Pirated photo (piracy victim: Sarah McCarthy...thanks, Ms. McCarthy!); these couple shots are from THE first day that I was "in charge" of a classroom, and it happened to be the day the pre-schoolers made "gingerbread" houses (read: sugary disaster). Whose idea it was for this to be my initiation is yet to be determined, but. I knew zero of the kids' names:










*Pirated photo (piracy victim: Sarah McCarthy...thanks, Ms. McCarthy!); me at the end of my first week at Poly's Christmas dinner (the theme was "Don't Get Mad, Get Even"):