Sunday, March 28, 2010

First day of school :D

So I woke up around 4:30 today and couldn't get back to sleep. I hate jet lag! It sucks because I went to bed around midnight so I'm not sure why I'm not sleeping longer. Anyways I took a shower and messed around online till it was time to go. For the first week I'm going to keep my clothing business casual and after that based on what other teachers are wearing I will change. From what I've seen so far I'll probably be ok in jeans and a nice shirt.

At around 7:15 I left my house, I stopped by what is now my favorite bakery to buy some breakfast (one sweet bread like pastry that taste like its from a German bakery. Seriously everytime I take a bite I'm reminded of Germany and it only cost about a dollar). I caught the bus about 7:25 or so and was at my school by 8:00. I was really early because the teachers aren't suppose to be there until 8:40 and I couldn't remember the code for the teachers room so I chilled in the hallway until about 8:20 when one of the teachers arrived. My co-teacher Elli came about 8:20 and we went down to the Vice-principal and head teachers office to say hi. Everyone no matter what their level of English (mostly only a word or two) tried to speak to me communicate with me and say whatever they could. I really appreciate the effort they put into making me feel welcome. I tried to use whatever Korean I know as well I could see how happy this made them. As soon as possible I want to take some more Korean classes. After hanging out in the vice-principals office and being introduced to whatever teachers stopped by, I went with Elli and the head teacher to the broadcasting room. Now I thought this would be an intercom system but it was a legit recording studio with a painted background, 2 different camera angles, 2 different podiums and Korean flags on either side. Haha I introduced myself to the entire school this way. Afterwards we headed back to the vice-principals office where I met my two other co-teachers, Kim Chae-Ran and Lee Ji-Su. Both fairly young (30 and 26 respectively) and both really nice. I don't have first period mondays so I just hung out in the office for another 40 mins. Than at 9:40 Chae-Ran came and got me and we started the day.

Here's my very own desk

The way my schedule works is that I teach grades 4-6th grade and meet each class once a week. So for example I had four 6th grader classes today and tomorrow I will have one last 6th grade class and then four 4th grader classes. Each grade as either 7 or 8 classes per week. I have a prescribed book and each week I will make a lesson based on what the class is going over that week. My school is in a poor section of Bucheon called Ojeong so the students levels aren't as high compared to other schools. The students come from poorer families so they can't afford to send their children to as many Hagwons (private academies) as other areas. That being said I had some students whose English ability are almost nonexistant and others whos speaking and comprehension are very good. In all cases most of the students were really nice and I had a fairly high participation.

My first and third classes were the easiest to teach and the 2nd and 4th the hardest even though the content was the same. My co-teacher said she really likes my style of teaching and that I know how to motivate the students, so that made me feel really good. I really liked working with her and we have a good repport. I feel like were doing an equal share in the classroom and that shes there to help out when I don't know what to do or if the kids don't understand but she let me run the class how I wanted and I didn't feel like I was simply a tape recorder. I asked her if it was ok if I changed the lesson plans in the book and she was all for it. She said that as long as I got the correct content/message, then how I run the lesson is up to me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel like a real teacher not just a show monkey for the school. If I think I can present the material in a better/more interesting way then I can.

6th grade English class

Chae-ran Sungsangnim

I'm not sure if this will be the same for all my co-teachers but I'm hoping it will work out that way. I'm co-teaching the 4th and 6th grades with Chae-Ran and than just the 4th grade with Elli (though she wants to use whatever lesson plan I use with Chae-Ran) and then I will teach the 5th grade solely with Ji-Su.

Ji-Su Sungsangnim

Head teacher. He wanted me to take a picture of him and then he turned away.
Yummy orange juice. Looks completely different from American. I think its less processed. Whatever it is, its delicisous.

After work I Elli drove me home because she takes English classes near my house and we got dinner right before her class at a place called the Chicky pub. I didn't know this before hand but the food served there is usually the food Koreans eat when they are drunk, mainly chicken wings and fries so I kind of felt bad taking her there. Anyways when we parked we drove into this parking what looked like a storage facility. You know the place where you can rent a space for storage for 6 months or more. I couldn't even open my door so I wasn't sure how I was suppose to get out but Elli simply pushed a button and the whole thing started moving down. Yes thats right we were in an elevator for cars. When we got the our floor the doors opened and we just drove out and found a parking space. Trippy!

Heres some of the nice things I was told today:
Your so pretty, your so beautiful (5 different teachers), you have a small face (co-teacher - this is apparently a good thing in korea), I evy Americans because they have big eyes (one of my students. Apparently this is also a good thing. Some of my students when they saw me put their hand up to their face and shaped their fingers around their eyes then said waaaahhhh like they were impressed. Silly kids). Haha dang Korea is good for my ego.

The drawing one of my students drew of me. Notice the giant eyes and even the nose ring. LOL

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