of permanent records and challenges

I should really stop tempting the universe to beat me up.

I shouldn’t say things like, “it doesn’t matter how many things go wrong this week because I’m going to SHINee World IV on Saturday”

my precious babies

because then the universe is like,


I’ve only casually mentioned the hell that was last week because I don’t really like to dwell on sucky things. Also, if you don’t speak Langcon, then no matter how much I explain, you could never fully grasp the situation. But, because this isn’t over, I’ll summarize.

Basically, last week was term tests. I had no idea what was going on because my “orientation” was basically random things spewed sometimes in Korean and sometimes in English and some notes I took a long time ago about the overall picture. But I didn’t know the specifics or what really to expect at all.

I won’t go scene by scene, aka mistake by mistake, but just know that on Thursday a lot of little things happened (pulling out the wrong test and flipping through my stack of tests to find the right one) and Director just happened to be in the room for all of them. Nothing detrimental to mine or the students’ eternal progression, but enough apparently for Director to call me in her office at the end of the day, have me sit down, and say sad things.


“I was unhappy with the way you ran your tests today.”

“You should prepare yourself more”

“You don’t ever listen.”

Now these aren’t inherently bad things but honestly Director is terrifying and the way she says them is so…condescending. It doesn’t feel like off hand comments it feels like she is directing negative feelings at your very soul.

Friday was even worse.

During my hell class, while I was taking students out one at a time to do the “speaking test” while the rest of the kids were supposedly doing the writing portion, they kept coming out and throwing their tests at me and screaming “TEACHER GAME” (I made a wordsearch to pass the time). When I went back through the end of the day…two tests were missing. I searched through all of my classes that day. I flipped through every single folder and even flipped open the stapled pages of the 63 other tests I had. I checked every one of my school folders, crawled under the desk, and in a last attempt even looked through the garbage.

They weren’t there.

And then I realized that Key, the 6 year olds, don’t have a “name” space on the test. Every single other level does, but not Key. And 6 year olds aren’t usually prudent enough to think “hm I should put my name on this.” So, in essence, I had 15 tests with no names on them.

These mistakes were much larger than the day before, and I waited until everyone else left before approaching Director because I knew I would leave a large part of my dignity smeared on her office floor and I wanted the least amount of people to see that as possible.

It was already 9:30 (we stop getting paid at 8:30), but evidently she was in for the long haul because she had a Big Mac Meal standing by. I told her about the Key thing. And then I told her about the test thing.


“I don’t understand this.”

“I don’t understand why you don’t listen to me.”

“Why didn’t you pay attention during orientation”.

“Korean teachers have to make calls to parents before the end of the term. They already have so much work I asked them to come in at 10:30, and now you are making even more work for them.”

While she never straight up said, “you’re a failure”, that’s the vibe I was getting.

While I had at least three legitimate excuses, I didn’t say any of them because it wouldn’t change the results. And it wouldn’t change the solution. And I didn’t know what that solution was.

In dramas when they’re sorry they like get down on their knees and bow and everyone around freaks out like it is a huge deal.

I wasn’t going to do that because that would be weird. But I’ve definitely gotten in the habit of giving head bows to anyone I order food from or says goodbye to me or really just all the time. Just a quick tilt to the side–kind of like how we put up a little hand to wave or nod.

So I kind of did that. Not an actual bow because that would be weird for everyone just a “I’m not worthy to be in your presence” head drop and a long drawn out “I’m so sorry.”

When I looked up she said, “I accept your apology. You can leave.”

There were also stupid things that happened on Wednesday. What I’m trying to say is, I basically came home crying every night last week.

But then I had a decent weekend and was looking forward to this week, which brings us to the beginning of this post. This weekend I am scalping my way into a Shinee concert and if you think I like exo.


I told Silvia that the earth could crack open and nothing could bring me down.

This morning at teacher’s meeting DIrector said, in front of everyone, that she wanted to have a formal meeting with me later. “Because you’ve made two large mistakes in a row, I have to write a formal report to Avalon.”

I don’t actually know the disciplinary system Avalon uses. I do know that a girl at another school slapped a student in the face last week and got only a verbal warning. So, according to this system, what I did was the was actually more damaging than physically harming a child. I know that is irrational, but on paper that’s what it is.

I think it’s also hard because I’ve never been written up for anything before. I’ve made it 23 years without ever being sent to the Principal’s Office, chatted with the Dean, been the subject of a disciplinary council, or even gotten a speeding ticket.

So this is kind of like the first mark on my permanent record.

And when I think of that way, perhaps it’s more a milestone than a tragic cry-your-eyes-out plot twist.

Mr. E was well behaved today. He even told me that I was a cutie.

Eric found his test in his backpack.

Sandy retook the test and did an awesome job (I graded it myself).

Alisa won the Dream Letter award, out of all the students at our school.

Aiden (orange) memorized the weekly speech…and nobody else did. He recited it perfectly in front of everyone. I was so proud of him.

Secret actually did the bookwork instead of fooling around and Wonwoo shared her barbacue Cheetoes with all of us and they’re actually quite good.

I bought a cookie and wrote an apology on a sticky note and put it on Eunhwa (Omma) Teacher’s desk. She never acknowledged it, but she smiled when we discussed lesson plans.

And then midday, Shinee announced their comeback is May 18 (it’s been over year and a half) which swung my emotions in the completely opposite direction.

Approaching the end of the day, I was at a 180 from the morning.

So I was feeling good but also knew that the end was near. Sohee and Sujin and HT were still there but I wanted to leave so I left the office to just get it over with and…Director’s lights were off. There was no one in the office. She was gone.

This has NEVER happened. It was only 9 o’clock. And she was gone.

So I came home. In the end, I don’t know if I got a formal written warning or not. Maybe she just did it without consulting me. Which is fine I really don’t want to talk about it. Or maybe the storm is approaching and D-Day is actually tomorrow.

But honestly I’ve reached this incredulity point. I didn’t come home crying, and I’m actually quite hopeful.

So you know what universe? YOU bring it on.



3 responses to “of permanent records and challenges

  1. Pingback: of shinee and optimism | That One Time in Seoul·

  2. Pingback: Spring Term in Review | That One Time in Seoul·

  3. Pingback: how work is going | That One Time in Seoul·

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