Finally, my first days of teaching! It was just what I had expected. I only went to my main school this week, but next week I begin teaching at my two other visiting schools. Most people have one or two schools, but I got lucky and got three! I do not mind it at all. It will give me a change of pace. I will be teaching 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes as well as after school classes full of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders. I will get to know a large spectrum of students at all different levels of English, different personalities, different interests, but the same haircut and school shoes. I’m excited to get to know my students even though it will be difficult seeing 27 different classes each week and planning several lesson plans. I’m sure I’ll get used to it after a while.
My office is in the second floor shared with a plethora of other teachers, four of which are new, none of which are foreigners like me. In fact, I am the only foreigner in the entire school, but that is to be expected. I have three co-teachers at the main school and I don’t have any problems with them thus far. The principal and vice principal are also kind from my short experiences meeting them.
On Monday morning, I entered the building a bit confused about where to go. I stopped by the vice principal’s office to say hello and the office manager informed me that I will be introduced on the morning announcements. I thought I would have to say something, but the principal just introduced me in Korean. After hearing familiar words, my name, the camera triple zoomed into my face and I did a short bow. I just followed what the other new teachers did.
The first two days were settling in, lesson planning, school tour, and classroom observations. I got really excited in the 5th grade classroom. The students were enthusiastic to participate and even stood up when talking. They were respectful and just sweet little children. My co-teacher is an excellent English teacher as well. They absolutely adore her; it is hard not to!
My first day was a day full of five 6th grade classes back-to-back. 6th grade has always been tough for me. Korean 6th grades are barely different than the ones back in the states. They were chatty and energetic, totally uninterested in learning. At that age, peers, fitting in, and being self conscious is a good way to wrap it up. I tweaked my lesson plan with every class because I overplanned and had to delete some things out of the lesson. It is really just trial and error. Also, every class varies in behavior and English levels. I am pretty amazed by the vast differences of my best behaved class and worst one.
During my lesson plan, I had students get into groups and create team names. Some memorable ones include: Students, We Are the World, Pikachu, Gwangju Style, Stupid, and Cool Teenz. There were several groups named the Angels and a few were the Devils. One team wrote down Fuck as their team name. I don’t think he kid knew what it meant because he was confused when I said to erase it. The other kids were in giggles though.
My second day consisted of three 6th grade classes, all of which were much better than the previous day. Perhaps I got the hang of things so the flow was smoother. My two 5th grade classes were fantastic; eager to learn and attentive. They were genuinely interested in learning with their young, curious minds. When I said I did gymnastics, my co-teacher insisted that I do a split right there in the classroom. My kids got a kick out of it and a few others showed me their skills.
After five classes, I had two after school classes. The first class consisted of rowdy and energetic 1st and 2nd graders. They were jumping on tables, hugging and grabbing me, and running all around the place. After being cooped up in classrooms all day, I don’t blame the little kiddies to go crazy. I was able to contain them through songs and games, but a few were too difficult. They do not understand anything I say, either, as they have not yet had formal English education. They received English names last year but I got to name a few new kids: Oliver, Jason, Eunice, and James are a few of them. We try to match the English names to the sounds of their Korean names as much as possible. Although they were extremely difficult to control, they were so cute and I enjoyed being with them.
The other after school class had 3rd and 4th graders. They were tamer and had better English knowledge than the little ones. We sang some songs and then played charades with recent verbs that they learned. They were eager to play and really, really, really wanted to say the answer and then go up and act out the new verb.
Walking around the school, the students thought I was another regular teacher and would bow to me and say “annyeonghaseyo”, but now my students come up and scream hello! You are cute (Koreans pronounce it cute-ee), I ate meat for lunch, these are my shoes, and other random bits. I’m glad that some of them are confident enough to speak to me like that. Some students refuse to say anything in English because they are too shy.
I came home to crunch in some lesson planning and I actually don’t mind it right now. The weather has been gorgeous and I have been going out every night around the city and meeting friends for dinner/exploring. Thinking of things to teach and creating materials is a bit relaxing and fun. Tomorrow, I’ll be teaching the little ones phonics because most of them don’t know the alphabet. I will also attempt to read I See a Brown Bear and teach them part of the song associated with a dance. I want to teach them a few parts each week and then have a little concert at the end! I’ll be sure to post a video. I’m warning you, it’ll be overwhelming with cuteness.
My Huge School
This is where I teach 6th graders