girls best boys in Incheon elementary school

One day of teaching elementary school kids, and I’ve got phlegm.
Thank you, you little germ factories.

I’m substitute teaching 6-8-year-olds in Incheon this week.
This was my first experience teaching teensy weensies, and nobody died. Exhale.

They each have an English name, and we’ve even got a George, a Brooklyn and a Percy. “Simon Says” was a crowd pleaser, and we played Pictionary and obstacle course games that tied in their vocabulary. I can say that if Koreans are the most competitive people on the planet, that train has left the tracks by the time they reach first grade.

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Surprisingly, I found the girls way meaner than the boys.

Of four classes of 1st or 2nd graders, my all-boy class was the best behaved. Boys in mixed gender classes however, were over the top. John started class by theatrically writing “STUPID JENNY” on the white board. Boys in my other classes ran across the room to slap their girl classmates playfully on their arms.

But where the boys were guileless, the girls were crafty witches. I see why we have movies like Heathers and Mean Girls.

During introductions, my 6-year-olds said, “Hi, my name is so-and-so. I like blah-blah. I don’t like yadda yadda.” Jane started a trend by ending her self-intro with, “I don’t like Derrick.” One-by-one, every ensuing girl in the coven class ended her introduction with, “I don’t like Derrick.”

We played hot potato with my 7-year-olds, where you pass a ball around and answer, “My favorite _____ is ______.” When we got to colors (e.g., “My favorite color is pink.”), the girls conspired to pass the ball between themselves over and over again, so the boys had no chance to answer. Not a word passed their lips in either game, yet the girls united against the boys. Those poor boys had no response.

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Lea aka Heather

My favorite conversation of the day was with my 8-year-olds.

I used to think sharing personal information could lead students to be biased, given their cultural references here. Now, if a student wants to know my age or tax status, I tell them. I think these could be teachable moments but of course, I could be wrong.

Lea:     What centimeter are you?
Me:      183.
Lea:     How old are you?
Me:      39 in Korean age, 38 in American age.
Class: (silent wheels turning)
Lea:    Are you married?
Me:     No.
Lea:    Have you ever been married?
Me:     Yes. A looong time ago.
Lea:    (consults cell phone dictionary). You’re dee-vor-stuh?
Me:     Yep.
Lea:    Aren’t you sad?!
Me:     (smiling) No. Do I look sad?
Betty:  No. You look tired.

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