The mood in the teachers lounge stiffened when I told a few of the other co-teachers that I was headed off to teach grade 2 (equivalent to 7th grade in the USA) in room 207.
As we were slowly making our way toward the classroom, my co-teacher pulled my arm close to her and explained that 207 was “most famous” in the entire building for being notoriously bad. This was said as if the class itself was an unstoppable cancer that spreads faster than gonorrhea and genital herpes combined: the teachers from every department seem to hold their breath whenever 207 is mentioned. Apparently, it was my turn to enter the pits of Korean Inferno.
She was right. As soon as a few of the students from the class saw us approaching in the hallway, they started screaming murder. Literally. I was surprised that no angry teacher popped out of their classes to curse at our students in Korean.
Ironically, my co-teacher didn’t budge. She had one arm around my arm, while the other was holding a stick that looked like an elongated wooden spatula. By the way, the first thing I saw during my first day at the middle school was a wooden “punishment” stick on every teacher’s desk, and this woman walking next to me gripped onto hers.
The class was hell, and I had to bear 45 minutes of it. It was my first time meeting them (I have 23 classes to teach) and all of the boys immediately acted out of their young and naive, sexual organs:
Meanwhile, the girls fed off of the boys’ energy and randomly shouted in Korean while texting or roaming the room.
Ironically, the classes in the school aren’t organized in any particular way. Every student in 207 just so happen to have finite membership into club rebel hell. Every girl was feisty and all of the boys were rowdy, shouting over each other to ask me inappropriate questions that were so embarrassing, I didn’t know whether to look at my co-teacher or not. She was, in any case, occupied: half of the class was already victim to the stick as they lined up with knees bent, heads down and arms out while she paced back and forth with weapon in hand, at the back of the room.
35 minutes into my (failed.) lesson, I looked at my teacher to beg her – via eye communication – to spare me the last ten minutes.
In general, I’ve spent every class this week introducing myself. I’ve had all of my students write questions they wanted to ask about myself. In every class that I’ve had so far, I’ve had a question asking for my number and whether or not I had a boyfriend. I’ve had girls who were so shy, they physically turned away from me and covered their faces whenever I approached them. However, there was one case whom I’ll refer to as future George Hangul Clooney: a shy 13 year old male who sat in the back of the classroom in grade one (6th grade). He pushed his paper towards me and covered his face as I read:
Who are you pretty? Why are you pretty? What are you pretty? Jackie Kim pretty.
Tomorrow is day four, and I am prepared to conitnue le cool and corrupt young Korean citizenship with American ways by introducing high fives and down lows.
Ah, too slow. Wait, please don’t start crying.