“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” ~ Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
8.2.13 - 9.12.13
Oy what a whirlwind the past month and half has been. I know it has been an indecent amount of time since my last post but in all honesty the people who I assume read this just saw me a few weeks ago so that has to account for something... right?
Anywho. I am back! So let's see... quick recap before I delve into why I am posting in the first place. I had my first summer camp (very very different than winter camp) and it was a success if I do say so myself. I taught four different classes.
The lowest level was basically phonics. Each day I taught 5 different letters (6 on the last day obviously). They learned how to write the letter and then five words that started with each one. If I never see another powerpoint with a gazillion clip art pictures pasted over every inch it will be too soon. They also had a fun little egg activity at the end of the day where they had to fit the eggs together to spell a word they learned in class. It was adorable seeing 20 little first graders running up with their eggs looking for a "yes that's the right combo you can glue it on your paper now" smile and nod. Have I mentioned lately how freakin adorable Korean children are? Because seriously... there are no words for some of these kids. You kind of just want to pinch their cheeks all the time.
The next level up was a game camp. Each day we learned a new set of sentences (usually a question/answer type thing) and then played a game that used the sentences. There were only 6 students in this class and it was by far my favorite one. They were great kids and they loved the games. Plus their English isn't that great, they were third graders, but they still understood me enough that I could actually teach them. They really enjoyed the games too so that's always a plus.
The next level was a song and dance camp. To be perfectly honest there was not much dancing but we did learn a song each day. They were fun story songs from Barefoot Books on youtube but the kids really enjoy them. I actually still have quite a few students from that class request the songs in class. And I don't think I will ever get one of the songs about flying out of my head.
The last class was the highest level and we had a Hollywood themed camp. That one was great because I didn't have to plan it. There are many sites that other teachers upload their lessons onto and my co-teacher just snagged the ppt and workbook off one site and badda-bing badda-boom camp done. It was pretty fun and my students liked learning about Hollywood and especially watching part of a movie everyday.
After camp was over I had my two week summer vacation. I decided a trip back home was in order. It was really great seeing family and friends again. It was also timed well so I was able to attend my grandfather's memorial service. It was bittersweet. He had been sick so long it was a relief that he wasn't in pain anymore but it was also really sad that he died while I wasn't even in the same country. But spending time with friends and family was just what I needed. I think the best part (not that I don't love the rest of you) was spending time with my nieces and nephews. That is definitely one of those "Is the cost worth it?" scenarios... they're growing up in their world and I am in mine. Well, it was amazing seeing them in person after a year. The time was too short but I am glad I am back in Korea again.
I love my job and I know I am making the right choice right now and that is really what matters.
Fall semester started and I am really loving my new semester (mostly but more to come on that later on) my kids are still great. I have already taught this material so it is a lot easier the second time around. My co-teacher and I have changed some basic parts of our teaching and I think it is definitely for the best.
I have also learned a lot about myself as a teacher because of my after school daycare class that I have been teaching. I went from once a week the first semester I taught at my school to every day the second semester, This third semester I am only teaching them three times a week. I realized that I am too nice and I really need to put my foot down when it comes to behavior and following through with threats. Like "oh you're going to be loud and rowdy? No game! *five minutes later* Okay everyone! Let's start the game!" Fail. But no game would really be more of a punishment for me because I would have to think of something else to do instead of the pre-planned game.
After my last class with them I will start carrying paper with me so I can make them do lines.... oi.... talk about a test in patience that day was. Usually it takes me one time to tell them to sit down so we can start class when I get there but it took me ten minutes to calm them down before I could talk and even then a couple students were still trying to talk over me. They learned that Charlene Teacher is not always nice that day. I gave a nice speech and by the time I was done even the students with the lowest level English knew I was pissed. It helped that the higher level kids knew what I was saying and if the younger kids would start to act up again they told them to sit down and shut up (in Korean). Yeah... it was almost plastic-melting-hate-stare level of eye contact going on. Almost.
But they kept me from starting class for ten minutes so I kept them an extra ten minutes. I can be a little authoritative.
On a much much happier note. Fall has started. It's cooler. There's (slightly) less humidity. Life is good. I can feel the crisp air in the mornings. I know sweaters and hot yummy overpriced drinks are in my future! Yay!!
But before that happens I am going to have to deal with some unpleasantness. As you know I have a co-teacher. I really like my co-teacher. She is a great teacher and she is always very helpful. But she is not always the best communicator. I have had many a days where she expects me to have everything planned and then some days where I kind of just stand off to the side and stare at the walls. Thankfully those days are few and far between but today was different.
I'm not sure if it was me or the students but she totally shut down during the last class of the day. We have three 6 grade classes and this was the last class that we were teaching this lesson to and so I assumed it would go just as the previous two would go. I would take the lead, we would go through the routine, she would chime in with her Korean explanations when necessarily, and life would be swell. That is not what happened.
To start, she didn't look too happy after lunch and she just kind of sat at her desk and stared at her computer until class started. Then the kids were late, by almost five minutes, and when your classes are only 40 minutes long and you have every minute planned out for the lesson five minutes is a long time to waste waiting for kids to show up. So she gets mad. Yells in Korean. Has different students stand up. Yells some more. Then just shuts down. I have no idea what is going on, I may be getting much better with my Korean skills, but I was in no way following what was happening. So I look at her but she is deadpanned. So I just start class. I have learned that is the only thing to do when the teachers yell in Korean. I can't ask "ooh what's happening" because it would just cause all sorts of problems that I don't even want to think about. So I am doing my thing and I get to the point in the lesson where she had previously explained something in Korean and I turn and ask if she wants to explain and she just looks at me and says no.
Now, I am taken aback but I just kind of shrug and move on. I try to explain as best I can and I hope the students understand. I move on. Now we use a lot of multi-media in our classroom and for the beginning of lessons we watch short videos. I barely have time to say my basic "listen carefully let's start" shpeel before she has pushed play and we are on our way. Again, taken aback, but I shrug it off. We then enter the point of the lesson where she is supposed to teach the basic key points for the lesson in Korean so that the students will have a better understanding of what is going on. I again ask if she's going to take the reigns (obviously with different words) when she doesn't automatically start and again she just looks at me and says no. At this point I am beyond words. I have no idea why she is refusing to do what she previously did and I know the students are getting the information I am saying at all. I can't call her out in the middle of the lesson so I just attempt to keep going but it is pointless because I know the students don't understand. We somehow manage to get mostly done when my co-teacher finally just starts explaining in Korean everything she was supposed to.... ten minutes before the class is supposed to end. She blazes through and then gives them their homework and sends them on their way.
I have no idea what just happened. I have no idea if she was punishing the students. If she was mad at me. If she was just mad in general. If aliens abducted her. Did she have a mental breakdown for 30 minutes? Did she have temporary amnesia? Lose the ability to form sentences? Go on strike? Nothing. It was so bizarre. I have felt like she has been a little different towards me since I renewed my contract and honestly it feels like she's mad about the money I get for being a NET. I will not lie there are a lot of perks. We get housing, large salaries, bonuses up the wahzoo... and I definitely do not do as much work as she does. Or I am just imagining everything?
Gah. I don't know. After class she sits down and I sit down. I start getting work done that I need to do for the next day's classes and she starts planning her afternoon after school class. I wanted to ask her if everything was ok but I didn't know if I was capable of having a civil conversation with her and I really didn't want to risk it. I did manage to get a little information about our classes tomorrow from her but not much. She answered everything I asked her and she didn't seem angry at me but then again she had kicked back into gear at the end of the class so she may have been over it already. Who knows. I will need to talk to her about it but it will have to wait for tomorrow because we have an open class in the morning.
Just what we need. Thankfully it is just with teachers from our school and it is up to them whether they want to show up or not.
I guess a co-teacher problem was bound to come up eventually and hopefully she was just really mad at the students. But I will have to talk to her about it because her way of dealing definitely just made my job more difficult and it felt like she was including me in her discipline. I'll let you know how things turn out.
Until the next time...