PLAYTIME

Is it wrong if I’d rather play games with my students than with other teachers? I have more fun with my students, plus they know more English than most teachers at my school. The weekly volleyball match between teachers is awkward. One or two male teachers always dominate, and the rest of us just stand around and watch.

I’ve been incorporating games into my after school lessons, games that aren’t commonly played in Korea. My students really enjoyed learning about Four square, and often request to play it again.

I enjoy giving students a chance to take a break, and play, while learning at the same time. Korean children spend much of their childhood studying. It’s no wonder my students are so restless during class sometimes.

This week I taught my after school classes how to play Ultimate Frisbee. It was difficult for them to understand all the rules at first, but after a few rounds they caught on. Of course I played. Boy’s team dominated.

A few of my students have been begging me to play Dodgeball with them. I finally joined for about 20 minutes this afternoon. I could tell it meant a lot. And we drew quite the crowd. They taught me a new way to play, which just goes to show how creative children can be.

Oftentimes I hear students use English more when we’re out of the classroom. It’s pretty amazing, really, when they’re forced to communicate in English because "Chase Teacher" doesn’t understand Korean. That’s my excuse for not learning Korean yet. It's what's best for the children. I always do "what's best for them". But, not really.

Even though I still feel like a big kid most days, my students see me as a responsible adult, as someone they can look up to, and a person they can go to for help. Playing with them is like speaking their language. It shows I care. It shows I can be trusted. It shows that I want to have fun too.

I believe it’s so important to play with kids. Perhaps it’s my way of justifying a little playtime during work, but I’ll always be a big kid at heart. And I think it takes a big kid to understand children a bit more. When I reminisce about my favorite teachers from the past, I remember the times they played.

It seems a little playtime is good for everyone.

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