Student Emails

emailshotI have a really great job.

I am a professor of talking. It’s amazing.

My strong suit is being in front of the students. I get along with them and I like them. My weakness is doing teachy things: curriculum development, lesson planning, being more than a week ahead of myself at any given point in a semester. jk. but real talk.

The beginning of the semester is always a little stressful: finding classes and making sure you’ve got your schedule down properly and aren’t forgetting things or materials and the printers always break halfway through your syllabus. Every time.

The nice thing is that the first week of classes is lite on actual instruction: it’s my chance to assess their levels and try to break through their inevitable English-speaking antipathy. No college freshman wants to mess up in front of a group of peers and English is hard to learn, y’all. So for the first week we play games, and the homework is simple: email me your answer to this question:

Why are you taking this class?

And no matter how stressful the first week is, those emails, man, they make it so so so so beyond worthwhile. Because bless them, how hard they do try to answer that question, and bless them, how some of them do not try at all. (as in, out of something like 75 students I have 58 emails.)

Here are this semester’s tallies:

  • Times I was called ‘sir’: 1
  • One sentence or less in length: 13
  • Paragraph-plus length: 13 (due largely to my upper-level content course)
  • Obviously written in Korean and then crunched through Google translate: 20
  • Unintentional Poetry: 6
  • Unintentional Sass: 5
  • Emojis: 6

Here are my favorites. From the Unintentional Poetry category:

I don’t speak english very well
and I don’t understand english well
but I want to be improving my english skill
this is my answer to your question

to all questions.

i want to good at english

but i am not

so i will try to!


From the Unintentional Sass category:

i came because i wanted to see a teacher

Like…that’s the whole thing. okay? Success?

From the Google Translate and Paragraph categories, subdivision Delightful:

I wanted to learn English like a professional may come from the old and in college and live in the future, so important Hebrews sseuyigi like they’d better put up the good work going to work hard to help me because I go to vacation again when traveling overseas trip I hope doeteumyeon

Yes. My thoughts exactly.

If one week age I had no idea about the university and professor, entrance ceremony day be absolutely kept in the dark about course application, but teacher question me why are you taking this class? I talk it was destiny, I believe destiny
entrance ceremony course application time I just focus number 1485 and teachers name: collen I think Wow!! another country people I confidence this class is perfect so I choice 1485, frist class time I feel wonderful I have very best choice
teacher image is very similar my ideal english teacher.
Thank you^^

Just reading these puts me in the best mood. Because darn it, they are trying, and they are failing spectacularly, and that is being a student. And it doesn’t stop in university or adulthood or everrrrr. A reminder that I need all. the. time. So bring on the semester, kiddos. I believe destiny! You believe destiny! Let’s destiny together! Wow!!

Mobile Word Ministry

I learned from my mother, who always told us the same story: ‘I said I’d never marry a pastor.’ ‘The last thing I wanted was to be making babies and oatmeal.’ ‘I swore I’d never be in the same room with anyone under 12 if I could help it.’

Thus saith Sally, 35-years married to a pastor, mother of 10, sometime 4th-grade teacher, and purveyor of millions of bowls of oatmeal.

Lesson being: never say never. (courtesy of my mother, and also, the Biebs.)

So I didn’t. I never said never.

I just thought it.

But then came The Boy. And I retroactively realized that the never (verb) never rule applies to thinking as well. And I couldn’t be happier that I got it wrong.

From our first post-engagement Bible study, lo these many moons ago.

Because this guy’s got a calling from Jesus. He’s the most pastor-y person I know. He can’t help it. I married a pastor-in-training, a pastor in heart and head and all but employ.

We believe that God has a place intended for him to minister…for us to minister, as much as those italics make me squirm.

And the first step–scratch that. The millionth step already, in two lives full of steps, is here. “The ministry blog” we called it to ourselves, during the 2014 Spring of Planning that became the 2014 Summer of Inevitable Delays. The labor of love from the girl who spent years blogging sporadically about things that didn’t matter at all, and The Boy with a gift for saying things that matter very much but to whom ‘blog’ was a sound you made about food you disliked. But it’s real, and it’s up, and the words God gives The Boy every week are for everyone to read. Now it’s called Mobile Word. Because the Gospel isn’t static but dynamic. Made to move. Just like we are.

Devotionals every Tuesday, reflections on the Word and the Walk every Thursday.

Go and read. And may it bless you the very most.

Late Summer Pick-me-up

Late summer, you charmer. You knew I’d be running again and you put on a show for me. Don’t deny it.

You want me to notice everything and you’re not afraid to show off. In fact…you’re a bit of a hussy.

That sun, just barely still sizzly on my shoulders? I see you.

Roadside flowers, lavender and golden-yellow and bright white, nodding on tall, slender stems? Oh please. You know exactly what you’re up to.  And don’t get me started, morning glories.

True-blue sky, shot through with sunbeam-strewn, mile-high clouds? Keep it coming.

And all you green things. Vines on trees on shrubs on vines. Honeysuckle on red berry clusters. All imaginable shades of green tangling over each other in a frantic heap of last-minute growth spurts. Blooming your hearts out before fall lights you up. You might be my favorite. You leaves and branches know how to work your good side, backlit by those opportune sunbursts. Transformed. You reach out and then fall back, but I know you. You’re not shy at all. You’re flirting. You want me to want you, and oh baby, I do. So even if it makes me look a little crazy to the no one who observes me on that long stretch of road–I give in. I’ll stop and take you in and try to catch that essence of woodsy summer that makes it even here amidst high-rise construction and the occasional fertilizer plant. It’s your swan song and you’re making the most of it. You make me crave plums and ice in glasses and no-makeup days. I’d wear sundresses forever if it meant you stuck around. (I wish I could wear sundresses forever anyway.)

We both know this isn’t gonna last and that you might not even be around tomorrow. But wouldn’t you agree we had it good while it lasted? I know I would.


A Peek at my Inbox

in my inbox? that sounds wrong? grammar?

Anyway, I’ve just wrapped up my first week back teaching…time for vacation! Chuseok, the Korean equivalent to Thanksgiving, falls around the same time as Labor Day in the States, but it’s a much bigger deal. That and my super-excellent work schedule means that after just a few days of being back 2 skool I am off again for like a full week!

What does it say about me that I am so happy to have this week off? like I haven’t even gotten back into things yet, and the summer was insane (not the fun kind) but there is built into me an intense craving at all times to avoid doing things. Like all things. unless it means I can be home and pantsless.  But anyway.

The first few days back were the usual muddle of classroom tracking, icebreaker games, and assessments for me to see where my bebes fall on the English-speaking ability spectrum (fyi they fall on the part with not a lot of english on it, which is to be expected). One of the exercises I always do at the start of the semester is tell them to email me their answer to the question:

‘Why are you taking this class?’

An exercise that doesn’t have a TON of merit in the grand scheme, though it’s not useless, but which I keep around so I can read things like this:

A very honest young lady:

The reason why I choice this class is… to study english of course,  and honestly, It was only class which I need to make my time table’s friday free

So much sass. “to study English OF COURSE.”

A very Google translated student:

Hello. I also fear a lot of English. But the attitude is let’s hit single.  We chose this class for chopping the base.

Brb, working more chopping the base into my syllabus which before this email had a severe lack of that

Finally: Succinct is key.

to speak well english more

I love these emails because they make me laugh BUT ALSO because they remind me of why I like this job so much. I love these students and their personalities and their goals and their senses of humor and their English. Look, I know it’s mean to laugh at these kiddos when this is them DOING THEIR WORK and FULFILLING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES and who do I think I am, anyway. But anyone who’s ever been a teachers knows that part of caring about your students includes laughing at their errors. in private. on the internet.


Posts from the past

Just a lil note to mention that over the next few months (maybe! no promises! I have commitment problems!) you’ll see posts written this past summer, mostly in July, whilst we were Thinking and Planning about the Blog rather than actually, you know, Blogging.

That was a beast of a sentence and it could have been worse.

SO if/when you see something posted with a weird old timey date on it, fear not. No time traveling was involved. Just delayed posts that were pressing or important enough for me to write, but not ready to post on the Interwebz for all to see.

And a quick Life Update: I’m about to head out the door to spend the next two days nannying for our sweet friends and their Lil Manchild. I’ll be posting on those adventures in the days to come!