Sunday, August 26, 2007

8/20/07 Monday afternoon

I just had my first day of teaching… I woke up from my 2 hour passing out. You decide how it was. =) Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad. And part of it has to be from my built up sleep deprivation. However, it was a lot harder than I had expected. I am also no longer thrilled with the idea of 13 coteachers.

Ok, first the good: I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVE my students. The camp is for 1st and 2nd graders so I can gauge their level and also for them to have SOME English experience before I start teaching them in September. They are 8-9 in Korean years, so 7-8 in America and for the most part SOOOO adorable. They are incredibly sweet and seem to be interested in me. Of the first comments I heard:
- Wow, she really LOOKS American (this was NOT sarcastic)
- How did she get here from America? Plane? Maybe she walked.
- Student A: She’s really pretty, Student B: Yea, all Americans are pretty
- Speak Korean!

I led group C for the camp, there were about 13 students total but 3 were absent today so I had 10. Of the comments in this group:
- Gosh, please speak some Korean, I came here to LEARN English and I can’t learn if I don’t understand you (this kid was SO cute, he was just like a little ajussi. I was really frustrated by this, I wish they would let me speak a little Korean to the students, ESPECIALLY because the vast majority of them don’t know ANY English)
- What is she saying? (There was a LOT of this)
- Tee-Chuh!!

This one little girl was especially taken with my appearance. Things she asked me (and I secretly answered in Korean):
- Why do you have a little tooth that’s not in line with all the others? Smile so I can see it better. Is it because you don’t have enough space?
- Why is your face so tanned?
- Look at her feet! She has rings on her toes!

I’m really excited to have them for the year. I’m especially happy about the 1st graders since I’ll have them again as 2nd graders next semester so hopefully I’ll get to know them especially well. (I can feel my English skills rotting).

Also, why do people keep asking if I’m of Korean descent? I’m hoping they’re just being PC and worried that they’ll offend me by not asking. But seriously, before coming to Korea, I NEVER had anyone (any Asian person) not be sure of my blood lineage/ethnicity. I’m one of those that people have always said look “SO Korean.” Not until I’ve come to Korea, have people continually questioned my ethnicity. Maybe it’s because I’m so dark…

Things I’m not so pleased about:
- Not being allowed to speak Korean to the children
o We’ll see if I can work something out where I can use it for clarification or maybe they won’t let me because I’ll have coteachers for clarification, but I really think it’s holding back on my becoming familiar and comfortable with the children (well, them becoming that way with me – I’m ok)
- Being used as a puppet
o For example, one 2nd grade teacher came in today to do storytime, and she held the book up and I would parrot the lines she pointed to as many times as she pointed to, “faster/slower,” etc. and the children were told to repeat after me
- This same teacher wants me to edit a report she has to submit on some English teaching methods conference she attended in Canada during her break
o FIRST of all, I’m pretty sure she’s handing it in to our VP or Principal, neither of whom has any command of English, so I really don’t think it matters
o 2nd of all, I’m not happy about the precedent this will set for the year and once she tells the other teachers, that I’ll just be editing all year … I really don’t like correcting my “superiors’.”
o Also, I’m not sure what I’m going to do if it’s HORRIBLE. JUST in case it is, what if I feel the need to mark it up all over because it’s just THAT bad? I hope not, I don’t want to start off offending my teacher or not correcting it a lot but then it ends up she handed it in to someone who DOES know English and they’re all like, OMG this sucks.
- Co-teaching with 13 different people …
o While I was initially ok with this news, because I thought it entailed less preparation and work on my part, now I think it’s ridiculous.
o Judging by the homeroom teachers I have met thus far, their English level will be a hindrance rather than a boon for me and I don’t expect to really have discipline problems. ALSO, the teachers don’t really seem to deal with discipline issues that directly – there were a few today that really caught my eye and were mostly just ignored
o I would like more autonomy/freedom in the classroom, if there is a co-teacher I will be much more wary about slipping in some helpful Korean to facilitate understanding and they will be much less understanding in that “why would you need to use Korean if I am here?”
On the upside, it looks like my 13 classes are all Mon-Thurs. I teach the 7 2nd grade classes on Mon and Tues between 9am and 1pm and the 6 1st grade classes on Wed and Thurs from the same time. However, I also have 1 hour of prep/teacher workshop with each grade teacher (2 hours). 1 hour of general teacher workshop per week and 1 hour of free discussion group with the school’s elite English speakers who go to competitions and stuff. (I’m not sure what happened to the remaining 3 hours but I’m not going to push too hard to have them reinstated).

Hopefully, I will get my wireless Internet in the next few days and can publish all these thoughts soon.

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