Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Un-Soo Wong: teacher by day, kick-boxer by night podcast

Un-Soo Wong: teacher by day, kick-boxer by night podcast


Artist: tubebackr

Track: SWAY


Creative Commons License. Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0)


Samuel: Hello, I’m Samuel Chacko, the news editor for the Cerritos college newspaper, Talon Marks.

Matthew: Matthew Espinosa, a staff writer for Talon Marks, as well as a former student of Mrs. Un-Soo Wong here who will be interviewing today on the experiences she faced during the pandemic. Mrs. Wong, would you like to introduce yourself?

Mrs. Un-Soo: Hello, my name is Mrs. Un-Soo Wong, I am currently a Language Arts teacher at Norwalk high school. I have been there for the past 16 years. I teach Language Arts 11 AP English language and composition and Journalism.

Samuel: Let me ask you the first question, how did you get into teaching in the first place?

Mrs. Un-Soo: Teaching on a great day is like the best day of your life when the kids are on point and they’re excited to learn and they’re having a good day, you’re having a good day with them and they’re not feeling too much other drama or bureaucracy.

Mrs. Un-Soo: On a bad day, it could be the worst day of your life.

Mrs. Un-Soo: In my 16 years, it’s been everything from seeing two best friends lose their fathers within weeks of each other, their senior year to dealing with, now, especially a lot more mental health issues, just a lot of other things that go on and so it’s kind of a mixed bag.

Mrs. Un-Soo: You go in and you have a great day with the kids or something’s going to happen.

Mrs. Un-Soo: And, you know, sometimes, it’s just the kid gives you attitude or the kid interrupts your lesson and so then, teachers take that extremely personally.

Mrs. Un-Soo: I don’t think students understand that when they say something to us, like “this lesson is stupid” or “oh this is boring,” we take it very personally. We take our lessons and our class like it’s our child.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So when our students aren’t into it or make these comments and don’t think they’re a big deal, they really hit us hard so same way when the kids get excited and so proud of what they’re doing.

Mrs. Un-Soo: Like in Journalism, the first time the kids see the newspaper being printed and see their names and byline.

Mrs. Un-Soo: I love those days. So it’s really hard to characterize how it feels to be a teacher.

Mrs. Un-Soo: The consistent feeling is very up and down. You know, my husband doesn’t know what to expect at the dinner table.

Mrs. Un-Soo: Either I’m going to be really tired and cranky or I’m going to be so excited …

Mrs. Un-Soo: that I’ll make him listen to all the stories about the crazy things that my students did that day.

Mrs. Un-Soo: But to be honest with you and I’m getting close to my 17th year teaching, I thought distance learning last year was the hardest year of my career.

Mrs. Un-Soo: This one is just as hard, if not harder, for different reasons. And this is the first year and contemplated retirement.

Mrs. Un-Soo: I don’t think about retirement, but this is the year I was literally figuring out how many more years I have to work before I could retire with a decent retirement plan.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So I think that unless you’re in the classroom with a teacher post-pandemic this school year, you have no concept of why it’s so difficult for us.

Mrs. Un-Soo: It’s just like “well everyone is back, what’s the big deal, it should be great for you” and it’s like no, the whole year plus the distance learning has totally changed the students, us, the classroom environment, dynamic, everything and we’re still recovering.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So right now, like today wasn’t a bad day. We told jokes, we had some fun and other days I’m like, “man this sucks” I’m think I think I’m ready to retire ask me next week. It could be different.

Matthew: What type of challenges did you faced during the pandemic, did it make it more difficult for AP exams to the exams themselves, make accommodations?

Matthew: How did it affect your journalism class actually? What type of assignments did you do? (I know you had to go around or students had to go around and ask for anything newsworthy.)

Mrs. Un-Soo: Journalism is interesting. I was determined to make a newspaper. I’m like “how am I going to do this when everyone is stuck at home?”

Mrs. Un-Soo: We did it the same way you did that interview with me and did breakout rooms (what the position will be like) and I had several students return, which made it easier and do the same thing we would brainstorm in a session.

Mrs. Un-Soo: People would take their assignments, some people are photographers so I had to check out cameras to them and trust that nothing happened to them while they are holding on to the cameras and then I had to do the layout.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So I had InDesign installed on my home computers so I could do the layout. Normally, I’d get a couple of students to do it but I can’t get them to program.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So I will do it and the interviewing, they had to get creative. Ok, so you need to interview some teachers, okay send me the questions and I’ll email them.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So I’ll email them. For the most part, we just used whatever form of communication that kept us apart and we used it so they could submit all their drafts. I did more editing with students just because it’s hard to supervise that.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So, I became more of an editor and design person than I normally am and then they could not print a physical paper so we just did a PDF version and uploaded it to the school website.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So we published nearly as many newspapers as we would and they are pretty good. You know, if they did a movie review, oh what’s the latest movie on Disney plus, or Netflix? That’s what you’re going to do Well, what about a food review?

Mrs. Un-Soo: Well, there is plenty of places to go find places who have take out and go try their food.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So, whatever workaround we could do and yes, we did do a lot more articles about mental health, about the effectiveness on teachers and on students. So, we yeah, we adapted and adapted the best we could.

Samuel: How did you bond with your students during the pandemic?

Mrs. Un-Soo: I felt closer to them than my current students, even though if you told me to pick them up from a line-up, I wouldn’t pick out most of them.

Mrs. Un-Soo: Like I was holding individual office hours and tutoring sessions at like nine or ten o’clock at night because of the quietest time at my house and it’s the quietest time for my kids.

Mrs. Un-Soo: And so, you know, talk about what’s going on and sometimes, honestly, I was meeting more of them and other things going on. So I wanted to check in with them and sometimes we’d just talk and so this was sometimes about homework.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So I don’t know how you feel close to your people that you did not physically see or interact with in person and yet in a lot of ways, I felt like we did bond on a level that you can’t when you’re surrounded by all these other kids to talk.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So, I feel close, but I would need to see them and associate that closeness with the physical person now and like I said, very few of them come to see me in person.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So I can’t kind of seal the deal in terms of really feeling like they bonded because I don’t see them in person. I guess we were kind of close last year.

Mrs. Un-Soo: But the ones I do see in journalism, it’s been fun to have the banter relationship, but also the serious moments from the past.

Mrs. Un-Soo: So, yeah, in some ways the bond has grown since then and I guess the other bond will be a fond memory because without being able to see them on a regular basis. That

Samuel: All right, well, I think that wraps up the session for today. Thank you for joining us, Mrs. Wong, and thank you, the listener, whoever you are, wherever you may be for joining us on this journey today.

Matthew: Thank you, Mrs. Wong, for joining us.

Mrs. Un-Soo: Thank you, it was a pleasure.

SONG OUTRO (credits below)

Artist: tubebackr
Track: SWAY

Creative Commons License. Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0)


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About the Contributor
Samuel Chacko
Samuel Chacko, Editor in Chief
Samuel Chacko is the Editor-in-Chief for Talon marks covering sports, politics, news and opinion. Sam enjoys playing video games, watching sports and music. Samuel is hoping to transfer to Cal State Long Beach in 2023 and work for a prestigious Journalism outlet one day. Contact [email protected] to meet with him and for news tips.
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Un-Soo Wong: teacher by day, kick-boxer by night podcast