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Friday, July 10, 2009

The sweetest thing



I've been blogging a lot this week about work and students because it's completely consumed my time since returning from vacation. Summer camp kicks off soon and that means more work and less time to do fun stuff. I do have some interesting weekend plans lined up, though, so stay tuned for that. 

My school gets a new batch of students every Monday and on Fridays, we say goodbye and send them on their way. You generally don't see the same group of students twice in a week -- the kids are divided into 14-to-16-person "teams" -- and so there are few personal connections made, one of the main drawbacks here. 

Occasionally we have specialized programs pairing one teacher with one team for an entire week, and such was the case with the intensive ESL program this week. I had two teams from an affluent elementary school where many of the students had lived abroad and spoke fluent or nearly-fluent English. Seriously, today I had an hour-long conversation with my sixth-graders about Harry Potter, how cute Christian Bale is and why Michael Jackson's kids are white. They flew through two hours worth of workbook in about 30 minutes. 

My fifth-graders weren't quite as high-level but tried hard and were nice kids, always ready with a joke. The boys, especially, liked to tease me about being American and make up "false" history -- for example, writing essays wherein King Sejong (the inventor of written Korean language) creates McDonald's.

I got sweet letters from both sets of kids in post office class this week but the fifth-graders really surprised me when I came into class and saw that they'd filled the whiteboard with goodbye notes, telling me not to be sad that it was the last day and saying thank you.

Even more surprising was this small packet one girl slipped into my hand when I deposited the kids at lunch after clas. 


Inside were notes from many of the students on Team 24, thanking me for teaching them. It was a sweet gift. Sadly, a few of the kids wrote things like, "See you next year" (they come in 5th and 6th grade) and I know I won't be here next year. 


I never get emotional when kids leave week-to-week, even if I've truly enjoyed teaching them. The fact is that new students will be here Monday and the cycle will start all over again for me. But I will definitely miss working with these fantastic students, who were genuinely fun and made my job much easier than normal. 

Considering how many students told me they hated ESL class -- not naming teams or teachers, just saying that a lot of kids told me they dreaded ESL class -- I feel pretty fortunate to have had two fantastic teams that seemed to enjoy the class and that maybe, just maybe, I taught them a little something. 





Dear Erin,
I hope you are happy. I think you and my class met many times in ESL class. In the first class in ESL, I thought you're name was very good, and you taught class very hard. And, yesterday you were my classes swimming teacher. So, I was very happy to meet you at swimming class. I think you swim well but, in class you didn't swim. So, I want to play with you, but then the teacher said "It's time to dance" so, I didn't talk to you.
P.S. I think you are a good teacher.

Dear Erin,
I hope you are well. It's Violet from team 24. Can you remember me?? I will remember you forever. (Ha Ha Ha)
You are my ESL teacher. I swam with you yesterday, right? Your swimsuit looks nice. I think you are very kind. I want stay in your class. ESL class is very interesting because you teach us easy. But, I'm going home tomorrow. So I'm very upset.
I hope I can see you again. At that time, you have to remember me!

Dear Erin teacher,
I'm very glad that you're my English ESL teacher. I think you're very nice and kind. So, I'm having a fun time in ESL class. Also, I learned a lot from you and I want to thank you for that. Anyway, I hope  can meet you and learn other things when I come to English village again next year in 6th grade.
I think I will never forget you!
P.S. Thank you very much for teaching me! 

And, a letter from Alvin, the troublemaker-comedian.

Dear teacher. It's your student.
I am one of your students. I wish and guess you want to know me when you read my letter. I think you are a good teacher because ESL is NOT fun. Oh just kidding. I think ESL is not boring and also not fun. But I hope that ESL gets fun. I am not a bad student and I am from team ___. Do you want to know this blank? Then read my letter more carefully. This is final hint that I give you. I am funny during your class. Erin, thank you!! 
P.S. Thanks for reading my letter and I hope you're well. You're the greatest teacher in ESL class of 21 century plus 3 century! (hint)