Have I Told You Today I Love You?

Living out my dad's dream to dream.


The Wonder Years.

This is completely accurate information.

The moment you mention the idea that maybe / possibly / by chance we will play bingo at the end of class, if they behave for 50 consecutive minutes, they get the shakes while only being able to mutter, “Biiiiiiingooooo??”

“Without my family, I couldn’t smile again.”

– Nicole, one of my favorite intermediate students, on what she would do without family in her life. Melts my little heart.

“Oh, I love seeing teachers outside of school. It’s like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.”

Janis, Mean Girls

My school is in a pretty small town, for Korean standards. I occasionally see students & their families at the park, walking along the street or at one of our many, many coffee shops. And I admit it’s beyond adorable when they see me & get excited, shouting ”Teacher! Teacher!” for my attention. Not sure how much wisdom I’m imparting on these kiddos, but at least they don’t mind my overall presence. Most of them truly are gems.

A few shots from our school’s “Children’s Club” party last weekend. No lie, it was a blast. So many little cuties - Beth & her sister, Lucia with who I assume is her favorite teacher {me}, Marry {yes, that’s how she prefers to spell it}, Aiden acting a fool, Lucas catching up on the news, Frisco with a fun group, Clara & me, Katie with Matt, dynamic duo of Kelly & Sunny, and Bradley with one of his favorites.

{More on Picasa here.}

One of my sweetest & smartest elementary students, Clara, told me her favorite American movie is Home Alone. It was made in 1990 - she was born in 2002.

I’m thrilled to know Macaulay Culkin & Joe Pesci’s influence has not only reached across the Pacific but also impacted a new generation.

Such a great {random} choice. So, so proud.

English names never get old.

  • Tim: Teacher, I am changing my name again.
  • Me: But you just changed to Superman. What is it now?
  • Tim: (long pause) Hmm, don't remember.
  • Vicki: (butting in) Optimus Prime.
  • Tim: Yes! Optimus Prime.
  • Me: Sure, ok.

Two irrelevant updates.

Remember this? She’s now one of my favorite students, Vicki. And while going over household vocabulary with my youngest {and most adorable} class, she was anxious to answer a question, hand shot up in the air ready to be called on.

Me: Ok, Vicki. Your turn. Where is the refrigerator?

Vicki: {very enthusiastically & confidently} The chicken!!


And remember Hank? He’s now insisting on changing his English name to Chocolate. So this afternoon, I played along and called him Chocolate the entire class. He was incredibly pleased with himself. Wouldn’t you be?


  • All public schools had the day off due to nationwide elections. Since I work at a private academy, we still had to come into work {as did the students}. To start my only class of the day, I asked the kiddos what they did while out of school on this fine Wednesday.
  • Me, to one of my more challenging middle schoolers: What did you do today?
  • Student {omitting his name since I just called him challenging}: PC Room. {basically an internet cafe where friends get together to play games online}
  • Me: Fishing! Wow. Really?! That's so much fun! With who? Where? My grandpa loves to fish!
  • Rest of the class: {giggles}
  • Another student, jumping into save me: No, teacher. He said "PC Room."
  • Me: Oh, my bad.
  • The reason I was so excited, then quickly disappointed? Usually, when I ask my students what they did on the weekend, they give few responses - study, TV, computer games, {sometimes} played soccer, market. So to hear this one student went fishing floored me. How out of the ordinary, I briefly thought. But, no. He simply mumbled PC Room. And it was so inaudible, I turned it into something much cooler. Ah well.

A Quick Exchange

  • Me, encountering one of my most hyperactive students in the hallway, at the end of the day: Hey, Hank. How's it goin'?
  • Hank: House!
  • {To his credit, it's kind of a confusing question.}

I wish I was kidding when I say this is exactly how I sound when my students try to teach me their Korean names. {I’m clearly Joey, they’re Phoebe.}

Me: “What your name?”

Student: “Seo Joon Jang.” {I have no idea if this is a real name}

Me: “Se Joe Jing?”

Student: “No.” {then he/she repeats}

Me: “So Ji Chung?”

Student: {giggles} No. 

Me: “Okay, let me try one more time. Seo Joon Jang.” {I’m convinced I’m correct}

Student: {shakes his/her head & gives up}

I’m telling you, my brain just doesn’t process Korean like it should.

Dream Jobs

I teach about 120 students a week, give or take a few. They make up 18 classes in total. It’s fun that I get to know them a bit more each week. Some are fantastic, some not-so-much. Just like the States, right?

I will have many more things to say about teaching throughout the semester but first, let’s tackle dream jobs.

My school has a pretty set curriculum that is closely supported by textbooks. We are encouraged to use creativity to stray a bit, though. So to get to know my students, I am constantly asking them questions about themselves - this gets them to speak English {since they know I speak absolutely no Korean} and I get to learn more about them.

I’ll ask their age, where they live {some kids bus up to 40 minutes to our school}, if they have siblings, their favorite sport, etc. And something I always ask is their dream job. If a kid is at our academy, he or she most likely has very encouraging parents pushing education. So they’ve definitely thought about and been asked {many times}, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

There are some pretty typical responses - doctor, scientist, lawyer, singer, soccer player, baseball player, basketball player. Again, just like the States, right?

Well, there are also some unique ones. Here are a few of my favorites:

Honorable Mention - Professional Chef {only because she told me I can eat for free at her restaurant some day}

Runner Up {3-way tie} - Teacher {she may have been kissing up with that one}, Food Stylist {because what child doesn’t want to dress up food for photoshoots?} and Businessman {because “that’s what my dad does.”} 

Winner - Steve Jobs. A child in my advanced speaking class told me he wants to be Steve Jobs when he grows up. I wished him luck with that one.

A Challenge

  • Too-smart-for-his-own-good kid in my class: "Teacher, do you have a smart phone?"
  • Me: Yes (even though I don't).
  • Kid: (with a dueling look in his eye & his hand held out) Show.