… another thing I really enjoyed about my trip to Korea was the chance to see Pepper in action. She and her manager graciously allowed me to sit in on a few of her classes and I was treated to some adorable and cheeky Korean kid antics, as well as a front-row seat to Pepper’s brilliant teaching style. She is effective, fun as hell but at the same time, doesn’t let the kids get away with anything that disrupts her class. She also manages to do this without being draconian or mean – something I could definitely take a few lessons in. I noticed that she was constantly on top of the situation; while teaching her lesson she would casually and immediately quell a student’s fidgety pencil or deliver a quick, “Erase that” to students who had taken it upon themselves to scrawl with pencil on the wall. All this without ever losing her stride or stopping the flow of her lesson. I thought of some of my kids – namely, Seiya, who is unhappy unless he is interrupting me – and thought, Boy; I could sure take a page out of Pepper’s book.
I had class with my dorky and restless 10 year olds yesterday. I always have a lot of fun with this class but, often, they can get a little too silly and hard to calm down. I decided to start small and try out some casual Pepper-style hyperness-quelling techniques with them.
Yasushi and Shoudai were especially silly that day. Yasushi likes to bring bugs into the classroom with him and Shoudai is fond of mimicking, but the game of the day was “Flick Anything at Each Other While Eba-sensei is Trying to Teach Vocabulary.” My usual reaction to this kind of game would be to bark out a teasing, “Okay, you turkeys, relax!” (which they don’t understand anyway) but yesterday, I quietly took away their carpet strands, pencils and erasers. They didn’t seem upset but became a little quieter and I was pleased.
“What’s this?” I asked, holding up the flashcard for “boat.”
“Boat,” they said listlessly.
“Boat!” I repeated with dramatic glee. They laughed.
“What’s this?” I asked, holding up the flashcard for “helicopter.”
“Helicopter,” said Kazu.
“Good, Kazu!” I said, and as I was about to flip to the next flashcard, noticed the disobedient and persistent dorks flicking something small at each other yet again. I immediately shot my hand out to stop the object and retrieve it, but as I did so and brought it closer to my face to examine it, I realized that I had picked up a small, crusty scab.
At the sight of the repugnant object, all composure was regrettably lost. “What the … Jesus!” I muttered, while flinging it away from me.
“Jesus!” mocked Shoudai, giggling. “Jesus!”
“Jesus!” hooted Yasushi, Tomoyuki and Kazu.
Surely this isn’t how missionaries envisioned bringing Jesus to the English classes.