One week down... :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009
It's been awhile!

It's Saturday now, and I've completed my first full week of classes. Overall, I'd say it was a success!

I teach at two elementary schools, so I'll break it down.

Seonhwa Elementary

I teach at Seonhwa Elementary School on Monday and Tuesday. I have 7 classes there on those two days, and I teach with 4 different co-teachers. They all greeted me when I came in on Monday, and seemed fairly receptive to working with me. Out of the 4 teachers there, 3 of them are comfortable with spoken English, but one of them really isn't, which is a little difficult. He seemed friendly though, so I'm sure it'll all work out!

On Monday, I worked with 5th and 6th graders. I showed them a Powerpoint about myself, and then played a bingo game which involved them asking questions about me. Invariably, in every class, the question "Do you have a girlfriend?" would arise. Older elementary kids are funny like that. Some of them tried to ask for my phone number too. I told them "000-0000-0000". I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of calls soon!

On Tuesday I taught the 3rd and 4th grades. They don't know much English at all, so it's quite difficult, but I did my best. My co-teacher for those classes, Tiffany, had to do a lot of translation into Korean, but that's to be expected. When they only have English class once a week, I think it would be quite difficult for them to make any headway in a class that is completely in English.

At Seonhwa, my office is also the English room. It's a nice room, but it also kind of isolates me from the rest of the school. At the same time, it doesn't offer me any protection from students after school. I'm at school until 4:30pm, but the students get done well before that. And they decided to come visit me in the English room. It was fine for awhile, and I definitely enjoy interacting with them, but I really wanted to get some lesson planning done and I couldn't really do that. I'll have to find some way to deal with them in the future.

I felt like my time at Seonhwa went well, and I look forward to going back there next week. My co-teachers were all friendly, and the other staff were friendly too. On Tuesday I ate lunch with some of them even though none of them spoke English. Like I said, the English room isolates me from the other teachers a bit, but hopefully I can build a good relationship with the school in time.

Jungang Elementary

I spend Wednesday through Friday at Jungang Elementary School. It's my main school, and the school that my "handler" (the person who helps me deal with stuff I can't do myself) teaches at. I was actually there Thursday and Friday the week before do to some lesson planning, but I didn't start classes until this week. I have a much busier schedule there, with 15 classes over 3 days. I only have 2 co-teachers though, which is nice and I think it will allow me to co-teach with them more harmoniously. They both speak English well enough, one of them was a bit shy about it at first but she's been getting more comfortable with speaking to me, which is good!

On Wednesday, I worked with 4th graders. As in Seonhwa, their English level is quite low, so my co-teacher did a lot of talking in Korean to them. I introduced myself, and then I walked around the class and they all introduced themselves. We then played a bingo game which involved them pointing at each other and asking "Who is she?" Simple stuff, but it was pretty enjoyable for me.

Thursday and Friday were spent with 5th and 6th graders. Their English level is a little higher, so my co-teacher for those classes uses less Korean, but still a heavy dose to explain rules for games and things. We played some educational games, and then at the end of class opened things up to allow them to ask me questions. The asked me all of the expected questions, and also made me "sing" the chorus to a song called "Nobody" by "Wondergirls", which is a very famous K-pop song. All in all, things went pretty well. On Friday after school I also kicked a soccer ball around with some of the kids for a bit. I was wearing dress shoes, but I still had a solid showing, and it was fun!

At Jungang, my office is located in a room with some other teachers, so I have some protection from the students after classes are finished. I also like it because it affords me more opportunities to interact with other teachers at the school. The cafeteria at the school was under construction this week, so everyday me and some of the other teachers would order in some food, and actually on Thursday I went to a restaurant with some of them. I really appreciated that, and it makes me feel like I'm a part of the school. I also had some of the non-English teachers stop by and chat with me in English. There are a number of teachers who speak English quite well, which surprised me a little bit. Hopefully I can find some time to interact with them outside of school sometime, because I think it would be fun.


Because I'm not a teacher by trade, I was a little worried about how things would go, but overall I'd say everything went fairly well. I definitely need to improve my classroom management skills, but it hasn't been a huge issue because my co-teachers do a lot of that for me.

Also, I should say that's it's really interesting just being in these schools. In both schools, I am the first ever foreign teacher, so the kids are really intrigued by me. On Tuesday at Seonhwa, they all decided that they wanted by signature! I must've signed my name over 50 times, it was pretty nuts. I'm a good sport about it though, and I'm glad that they're reacting positively towards me.

I guess that's all for now, I'm sure there are a lot of things that I'm forgetting but feel free to ask me any questions about my experiences and I'll get back to you. In fact, I'd appreciate questions, because they help me organize my thoughts better and also let me know what people want to hear about. Maybe I'll post up another Q&A thread...

As I say at the end of class, "Goodbye! See you next time!"


Shawn Hudson said...

I've been checking out your blogs, and I'd like to thank you for putting them up. A couple of days ago, my girlfriend and I were offered positions in Daejeon via EPIK for February. We sent in our paperwork in yesterday, so we're waiting!

toadhjo said...

Hi there Shawn, I'm glad my blog has been helpful for you!
It sounds like you're well on your way to making it over here. Daejeon has been pretty good to me so far, and EPIK Orientation was very fun and useful as well. It provided me with a network of other foreigners in Daejeon who are experiencing the same thing I am, which has been a great help in my first weeks here.
Anyway, you're applying pretty early, so hopefully things will work out for you. Good luck!