It’s interesting how our memory conveniently lapses, the out of sight out of mind kind of memory lapse, especially when we’re thinking about our school teachers. Frequently when I walk by some of the 4th and 6th graders, they tell me how much they miss me teaching them and how “not funny” their Korean English teachers are. But after I remind them about how often I would tell them to sit down, be quiet, making them clap to be quiet, threatened them with losing the lesson’s games if they continue to misbehave, etc. and then they change their minds and say that I was mean and they really don’t miss me too much.
One of the 6th grade classes is frequently given extracurricular enrichment assignments to help them develop and refine skills, like asking questions, becoming comfortable in front of strangers and/or cameras, etc. So their current project is interviewing (and taping the interview) with one of the English teachers. Three of the groups from the homeroom class decided to interview me, which of course I said yes to.
So of course they took advantage of being able to ask me questions, me having to answer them, and asked me questions that I had previously said were top secret, questions like how old am I, am I married, etc. Also important need-to-know questions were what were my hobbies, what Korean dramas do I watch, and who’s my favorite Korean actor (actor only, not actress). There were some thoughtful questions: why am I teaching English, if I wasn’t an English teacher what other career would I have, what’s the difference between the grade level, etc. And of course there was some fishing for compliments, asking me which 6th grade class was my favorite, which was the best, which of course I dodged by saying that each class is different and enjoyable for different reasons.
One question that I was a bit surprised by was their attempt to get me to say if I liked their homeroom teacher better than their Korean English teacher or vice versa. One of the boys was quick to say that they’re both hard and strict, but I was nice. We talked about why they would think that they’re mean and strict and what I saw as a teacher and a co-worker, namely how much work that they put into their classes, things that the students do and would never see or I think really appreciate. I know that I never did until I started teaching, how much work my teachers put into the lessons that they taught me, from making the endless amounts of flashcards, to classroom signs, to designing activities, it never really dawned on me how much time and effort (and money) teachers need to put into teaching materials.
It has made me think about how I viewed my teachers…One teacher that I never particularly liked was Ms. Bailey, my 5th grade Language Arts teacher, she was crabby, strict, I don’t think that I ever saw her smile. But looking back, I’ve realized that she loved books, I really don’t think that I’ve ever had a teacher that promoted reading, and understanding what you just read and finding a relationship with that book, as much as she did. Getting four classes of 5th graders to read and to somewhat enjoy reading is not an easy job, but she did do her hardest and best I think. I just never really appreciated it until now.
It’s funny that when we’re in the middle of a moment, everything is such much more intense, or at least we make it that way, until we’re out of that moment. Hindsight is a very funny thing, isn’t it?