A school fire drill at Bibong Elementary in Ochang, South Korea.

My life is a hot mess most days. I never really know what’s happening or what I’m doing. This has always been, continues to be, and will forever be the story of my life.

Frustration and/or confusion punch my face daily. I can’t clearly communicate instructions to my class. There’s a surprise fire drill. The projector doesn’t work. Every situation is different. Every student responds differently to me. Life wallops! I could choose to smack back or smile, or smile while smacking back.

My students just stared at me after I rattled off what they were supposed to do in English. It can be difficult to clearly communicate instructions. Even if I speak in very slow, simple sentences and/or gesture wildly. This is when it really helps to have a co-teacher. All it takes is a little translation before a classroom fills with nods. But, what happens when a co-teacher doesn’t listen to what I’m saying, or doesn’t understand what the class is supposed to do either? A hot mess is what happens.

The school’s intercom system was shouting something in Korean. My students were covering their ears with their hands and hoods. I didn’t know what was happening, or what I was supposed to do. Class had just begun. My co-teacher was not in the room as yet. I gathered it was a fire drill. Surprise! Thankfully, my co-teacher arrived just in time to escort the class outside.

As I watched the playground fill with students, I thought about how scary it would actually be to evacuate a school full of children, full of life. I walked the halls after everyone had left. It was eerily quiet. Rooms were empty, desks unoccupied, computers and televisions left on. I was alone with my thoughts. What if it was a real fire and I was responsible for getting a class to safety? I wouldn’t know what to do! That very thought brought tears to my eyes. What a hot (literally) mess it would be.

I didn’t expect to see my co-teacher, Paul, standing on top of a desk when I entered the classroom. He was fidgeting with a projector mounted to the ceiling. It wasn’t working. Go figure!

Technology is necessary in the Korean classroom. I’m expected to incorporate it into my teaching, and many times I use visual presentations to conduct entire lessons. But what happens when technology isn’t working, when everything you’ve planned gets thrown out the door? You play dialogue bingo, and have students repeat sentences for a ridiculously long time. Hot mess!

I find comfort in knowing that a smile and laughter is the best way to clean up or sweep a hot mess under the rug. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never known. Does anyone? Life happens. Choose to smile and laugh through it.


  1. Bridgett Allen11:26 PM

    I love reading your blogs! You have a real gift with words and your descriptions!


Post a Comment