Life in Korea 한국 Teaching in Korea

Week Ending on 4/28 Update

A recap of the week after my last post. I received a lot of feedback and I myself learned that it is a process. Thinking back on when I started teaching at the elementary school and had help I realize I was expected to teach right away. I had no idea what the kids names were and I had no way of managing the class . Each home room teacher that came had their own rules or classroom chants and I went along with them. Two weeks later 3 out of the 5 home room teachers stopped coming to the English room with their classes.  Which left me with no rules, no management, and no name chart. Had I known things would end up this way, I would have implemented rules on day one. So now I am left fumbling along and trying to pick up the ball after dropping it. Yes, I dropped it. Being a new teacher this is part of the learning curve.

So I started from square one and decided on Thursday that I would not be teaching English that day. No, we would be making name tags. Some kids took the entire 40 minutes to decorate their name tags others took 20 minutes. So the ones who finished early received a blank piece of paper and I told them to draw. Just draw anything you like.  This kept the other kids somewhat busy while the others finished. Although I collected the name tags so that I can write down their names and implement a system for rewards, they want them back the next class. I still have two more classes at the elementary school to make name tags with. I’m excited to do that with them this coming Tuesday.

Wednesday and Thursday are my after school classes. The Wednesday class changes every week, so I am always seeing different students. I always come up blank as to what to teach the kids. Part of me wants to be relaxed and have fun and at the same time I know I should probably be teaching them something educational.  So, I have been handing out blank pieces of paper and asking what they want to learn in class.

The number one answer: games.  Not surprised by that in the least. My classes end at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. I don’t want to be in the classroom anymore than the students. To me, it seems like they are suffocating from school. Why school days are so long, I will never understand.

What came out of this was a refreshed feeling. Like I can stand and keep trying. I will make mistakes as I go, but they won’t kill me, or send me packing home.  This is a powerful message and I taught my classes on Friday at my middle school and was ready for a relaxing weekend. For once, I had nothing planned. All I knew was I needed to clean my apartment, do some laundry, and  find the ingredients to make rice krispie treats.  I successfully finished the first two on the list. The ingredients are still elusive.

On Saturday, I completed a lot. I missed the bus I wanted to take and instead of heading into Gangneung like I normally do; I ended up taking the bus to Donghae, the city below me. As I was waiting at the bus stop, two of my middle school students came up and talked to me in Korean, asking where I was going, what I was doing, etc. When they found out I was headed to Donghae they were excited. They were headed that way too and wanted to know if we could have lunch together later. I agreed, the next thing I knew I was sitting on the bus and other students in their class texted me and asked, “Teacher, are you going to lunch with the other girls?” All I could do was laugh as information traveled so quickly. I had a good lunch with the two girls and they helped me out with an errand. I thought the internet in my apartment was no longer working so I should go and get internet service and a router. So they came with me and through charades and random questions, we ended up calling the teacher who lives below me, whose internet I leach, and he said it broke the night before. I realized I should have asked in the first place but that is my own stubbornness in not asking about stuff that I am receiving for free.

On the way home, I couldn’t remember which direction the bus stop was so I asked two elderly ladies if they knew. They pointed me in the right direction. I walked over to the bus stop and stared at the bus table trying to figure out what time the next bus was when a lady on the bench called out to me, ” You are going to Okgye, right? The next bus will be here soon. I saw you when we got off earlier.” Mind you this was all in Korean, but it was comforting to know that a total stranger was willing to offer me the information without me even asking a question. Such is the kindness I have received as of lately.

Sunday was a new day and I agreed to meet the other teachers for a walk at the elementary school. The funny thing was I had no idea how many people were going or how many of them I would know. Many of my elementary and middle school students came and I said hello to all of them.  I felt pretty good knowing that I was in the fast half of the walkers. As I was passing people a group of older ladies called out to me and asked if I was an English teacher and where I taught, so I told them I taught in town at the two schools. They were impressed I spoke Korean and told me I was doing a good job walking. Thank you for that.  During the raffle, after the walk, I won a fan. Which is perfect, because my apartment has no A/C or fan in it currently.  After all the middle school students, a few teachers and I ate lunch together at a Chinese restaurant.

To end the weekend, the special education teacher took me out to dinner. We drove on the scenic route by the beach and stopped at a tent restaurant and had delicious crab hand torn noodles. (대게칼국수) The dinner was super delicious and the table we were seated next to proceeded to chat with the teacher with me about me. I have never heard so many times that I am pretty, that I would be a good match if their son was older, etc. I’m not used to hearing praise all the time, but it is pretty nice to smile and realize they are excited I can speak back to them.  It’s the relaxing weekends that are good to have every now and then to recuperate physically and mentally.

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