I randomly came upon this video the other day, and for someone who teaches both Kindergarten and 2nd grade, this video is like teacher voodoo.
I mean seriously these kids look like professional actors in comparison to the daily dose of calamity that seems to rule over my class.
I'm totally planning on trying to introduce the 'blow the answer in your hand' technique tomorrow. The key word here is trying.
Now I've been teaching in traditional and non-traditional ways for quite a few years now, but watching these "Whole Brain Teaching" videos made me feel super teacher-y, and also super inspired. Both the class and the teacher appear to have a great understanding and love of learning, which who doesn't want for their class.
Yesterday was the dreaded "Parent Teacher Conferences", and I am glad to report that I am still alive and well.
I had found out about these conferences at the end of last month while looking at one of my student's newsletters. Now my Korean is far from good, but I like to look at the news letters to get an idea of when this month's field trip is and when the monthly birthday party will grace me with more cake. This time I saw mention of all the kindergarten classes and different dates- I asked one of the Koreans about it and was told we were doing parent teacher conferences.
Now I've taught open classes where the administration can come in and watch me teach, but this was my first parent teacher conference as a non-student.
Or at least not how you and I think of school busses. For public school the students either live close enough to walk to school, or get rides or take public transportation.
But for pre-school/Kindergarten and afterschool classes the kids get picked up in vans that are kind of the equivalent of Church vans. They hold about 10 kids or so and are usually bright yellow with the name of the school on the side.
The Worwick vans aren't yellow, they're blue and gray - I guess to go with the color scheme of the school and the kids uniforms and whatnot.
Anyway these vans are pretty much only used for schools so they're easy enough to spot on the street.
Every once in awhile as I'm walking down my street on the way to school I see the COOLEST van ever.
As a preview to the topic of 'sighns' I'm going to be doing later this week, I give you a bit of the five year old fashion trends. Now as you might imagine, or some of you remember from before- Korea is home to some crazy incorrect English- which makes for some awesomely bad signage, and also clothes.
The other day, our friend Phillip was sporting some really awesome fashion, with some really great English.
I remember being a kid and asking my mom on Mother's day, why there was no childrens day? It doesn't seem fair that Mothers and Father's get a day all for themselves, especially since, it seemed to me at that age, that they got whatever they wanted all the time! Her answer was always the same, "everyday is Children's Day." I however, disagreed.
Now looking back, I see that it was pretty sweet being a kid, no responsibilities, you can run around and play all the time - but wait, I teach 5 year old kids and their life isn't all peaches; they have so much pressure on them to learn many important things, everyone tells them what to do (including me!) and they are always getting into trouble, they can never just be kids and do what they want to do. Being a kid sucks sometime since children grow up so fast these days and start studying and working very hard, very young.
From 6:30AM to 7:30: reading the news, writing, drinking coffee. The baby wakes permanently around 7:40, at which time all of us take turns in the shower. Watching him quiver excitedly in the blasting hot water is heartening. Around 8 we dress the baby, which is a two or three person job, as the baby struggles and screams violently whenever clothes are applied to or unapplied from his body. My wife, A., and I, rush through breakfast in less than five minutes. We have become like marines without the martial muscles; I slurp down every milked-soak grain of muesli in the time it takes to walk from the sink to the table, shoveling the slop down my throat.
Then we head outside, pile into a taxi, and drop the baby off at daycare. The driver always turns into a truefalse cul-de-sac which looks as if it leads onto the highway, even though it is blocked by several pointless boulders.
This was the first thing I saw when I walked out of my apartment building one Sunday morning, an unequaled feat, especially considering that it happened in the western part of Busan, where you will never, ever see a Korean man taking care of children.
One last birthday party at work for me to attend. It tugs at my heart strings. Birthday parties annoy me a little bit because they cut into my lunch period, the kids are monsters about making the birthday cards, and there is a 1/5 chance that some kid is going to vomit… but the parties make the kids so happy. And their joy really is contagious. I love how they can me the happiest when all I want to do is sulk.
Sometimes my school has fun mornings for the kindergartners where we set up stations in the different classrooms where the kids can practice their English in a make-believe setting. We call it “Market Day” or “Little Times Day.” The stations vary. This time we had an airport, McDonald’s, restaurant, super market, taxi, and hospital station.
I felt kind of bad teaching the kids how to ask for a “large cola” at McDonald’s, but it’ll probably end up being a lot more useful for them than the lesson on sea creatures last week.
Education is a big part of Korean life, just consider the fact that 97% of all Koreans graduate from high-school (highest graduation rate in the OECD) or that the average Korean student between the age of 15 and 24 spends about 8 hours studying every day (as opposed to an average 5 hours for other OECD countries). As you'll see from these pictures, studying hard is an old tradition in Korea: