‘Teacher’s head is sad.’ – Quote Friday 09/06

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

Photo by Constantina Dirica

This week I started my new job. So far, so good….


Me to The Canadian One: ‘I don’t understand. If the sun is a star and all stars are suns, why aren’t the stars yellow and not white?’


While discussing people coming over to the house unannounced when the house is a mess:

The Canadian One: ‘Surprise visits aren’t surprised at all. They’re intrusions.’


Me: ‘I didn’t wanna hit you.’

Guy: ‘That’s not the first time a girl’s said that to me.’


Regarding Facebook pokes:

Guy: ‘The Internet: Made for being gay.’


Me: ‘What’s an adult?’

Kid: ‘A big human.’


Some kids are messing about in class.

Kid sitting behind them: ‘ACT YOUR AGE!!!’


On my first day:

Me: ‘What do you think a class rule is?’

Grade One kid who’s been learning English for 6 months: ‘PAY ATTENTION!!’


Kid looks at my frizzy hair.

Kid: ‘Teacher’s head is sad.’


Me: ‘Where am I from?’

Kid: ‘Mexico!’

Entire class stares at her.

Other kid, slowly to the first kid: ‘Ireland.’


Kid puts her hand up to answer a question. The kid next to her puts her hand up too. I pick the second kid.

First kid: ‘Oh teacher, I am disappointed in you.’


In Korea, all teachers are called by their first name plus teacher. So I am ‘Jenny Teacher’. While doing an introducing yourself unit in the book:

Me: ‘What’s my first name?’

Kid: ‘Jenny.’

Me: ‘What’s my last name? ‘

Kid: ‘Teacher!’


While doing a ‘What does she look like?’ task, the question is to fill in the blanks about your teacher.

In the book: ‘Mr. / Ms. ____________ is _______________.’ They’re supposed to write tall or short.

Me: ‘Ms….’

One little boy: ‘Mr?…Oh wait…no….wait….noooo….Ms….’

Me: ‘Eh,yes…Ok, Jenny is….’

Kid 2: ‘Friendly.’

Me: ‘Ha, thanks but tall or short?’

Kid 1 again: ‘Jenny is a she.’

Me: ‘I AM!! Well done!’


Kid: ‘I have Green’s homework….’

I look at him, confused. He looks at the book in his hand.

Kid: ‘Glenn’s….I have GLENN’S homework.’


Ridiculous Parental Interaction of the Week:

The basic points system in my class works like this: Get five points, get a stamp. Speak Korean, minus two points. Annoy me in general, minus one point. 42 stamps (co-teacher’s doing, not mine) and they get a present. Each class, the kids start with zero points and go up and down in points throughout the class. It’s a simple concept and kids take no more than five minutes to grasp it.

My second day, Tuesday: A kid, Nikita, speaks Korean to Ted, the kid next to her. I deduct two points from each of them. That afternoon I’m called into my co-teacher’s (CO-T) classroom.

Her: ‘Do you know Nikita? She was sitting with Ted?’

Me: ‘Yeah, I remember her.’

Her: ‘Her mom called. You minus her two points?’

Me: ‘Yeah, she spoke Korean.’

Her: ‘She went home and cried and she said it was the little boy next to her not her. So her mom called Ted’s mom to complain about Ted and then called us to complain about her minus points.’

Me: ‘Ok.’

Her: ‘She says she did not speak Korean. You must be mistaken.’

Me: ‘I’m not. She did.’

Her: ‘No, Nikita is a good student. I don’t think she would.’

Me: ‘No, I wouldn’t have deducted points from her unless she spoke Korean.’

Her: ‘I talked with her mom and she said Nikita says she didn’t. I told her it was your first time with the class and you confused the names and should have minus points from someone else. She wants you to give her her two points back.’

I look at her with a look that clearly says ‘Are you f*&king kidding me?’.

Me: ‘O…k….but it doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t mean anything. I took two points but it’s just in class. Like, I give points and then if they get five points they get a stamp. She didn’t have many points, it didn’t make a difference.’

Her: ‘You must give her two points.

Me: ‘But it doesn’t work like that. I mean, each class they start at zero.’

Her: ‘Give her two points. And comfort her.’

Me: ‘O…k….’

I leave.

I don’t teach that class on Wednesday.

Thursday: My CO-T comes into my classroom.

Her: ‘Today, you must give Nikita a present to say sorry.’ (Bare in mind, the kid got punished for speaking Korean in class when she knew she wasn’t supposed to, then went home and lied to her mom about it and now I had to give her a present to say sorry)

I blink and stare at my CO-T.

Me: ‘What kind of present?’ (I look around my desk) ‘I don’t think I have anything to give her.’

Her: ‘Just something. I told her and her mom you would give her a present today.’

She leaves and I find a chocolate cookie still in date in my desk.

I go into my CO-T’s classroom.

Me: ‘How do I give Nikita a present without all the other kids freaking out about not getting a present?’

Her: ‘They know. I explained to the class yesterday that you would be giving Nikita a present.’

I nodded slowly, wondering exactly what she told the kids I did wrong to warrant giving Nikita a present.

She takes out an empty stamp sheet and holds it in front of me.

Her: ‘When they are good, they get stamps. They like stamps. They are important because when they fill the stamp sheet they get some kind of present…’

Me, cutting her off: ‘I understand that.’

Her: ‘And you minus two stamps…’

Me, cutting her off again: ‘Points.’

She looks at me.

Me: ‘I took two points not stamps.’

Her: ‘You didn’t X out stamps?’

Me: ‘NO! I minused her two points. In my class they earn points and five points gets a stamp.’ I start drawing it on the board. ‘If they are naughty, I take away two points, not stamps.’

Long pause.

Her: ‘So this doesn’t matter? It was just two points?’

Me: ‘Yes!!’

She nods slowly, then laughs, then shakes her head in disbelief.

Her: ‘It doesn’t matter…’ (mainly to herself)

Me: ‘No. It doesn’t. Every class they start at zero. Nikita didn’t have enough points to get close to getting a stamp. It didn’t matter that I took two points. It made no difference to her.’

My CO-T shakes her head.


Her: ‘Remember to give her a present.’

I sighed, nodded and left.

Class time rolled round. Nikita got her present. I turned my back to write on the board, I hear kids talking in Korean at the back of the classroom where Nikita, Matt and Ted are sitting. I look at them. Matt looks guilty.

Me: ‘Matt!’

Matt: ‘Nikita!!’ (pointing at Nikita)

I look at Nikita who looks sheepish. I look at three other students also pointing out Nikita as the culprit. I sigh and continue with class not bothering to punish anyone the entire lesson.


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