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Proud of My Work

Before I ever left for Korea I was working at an Insurance Company in San Francisco. My boss was this kooky old Japanese man who lived by a lot of morals and codes. Have you ever watched Mad Men? The office was kind of like that, and even had old type writers.

While he was training me to be an Insurance Agent he would now and then pass on knowledge. This one time he told me that when you do a job you should do it right. You should do such hard work that when it comes time for you to leave (for whatever reason) the company should be sorry to see you go. At that time I was fresh out of college and with a small work history behind me. I tried my best at that job, but know I could have left it better.

A Day of Professional Development: KOTESOL International Conference 2012

On October 20th and 21st Sookmyung Women's University held the 20th KOTESOL International Conference. During this time teacher's and ESOL enthusiasts gathered to see presentations ranging from topics such as mobile language learning to gaining more participation from students. Yet most importantly it felt like a time to celebrate the profession of teaching English as a second or foreign language.

I for one enjoyed the presentations I attended and especially found the conference well organized and entertaining.

First Time Teacher's in Korea: Some helpful points

Last weekend I randomly met up with a newcomer to Korea. He has been here about half a year and teaching down in Jinhae, which is near Busan. During our visit he expressed to me some difficulties getting use to teaching in Korea. Certainly some of the points he made were exactly how I felt when I first started teaching, and I couldn't help but see how far I have come. Recently he posted this on his Facebook:

Detachment: I highly recommend it

When someone asks me, "What kind of movies do you like?" I have a hard time answering. I usually start off by saying I don't care for the Hollywood flicks, and then go from there. For the most part Korea gets only just the Hollywood "Blockbuster" movies from the West. While the more thoughtful and dramatic ones don't cross the ocean.

How to work and teach with tonsillitis

I'm actually doing much better now with all my symptoms practically gone. But it took some time and I didn't get off work that much when I was feeling like crap. Instead I trucked through my class loads and stuck it out. Working when sick in Korea is a given and you pretty much have to do it or you will look like a sorry person to your Korean colleagues. Here for you is how I got through teaching with tonsillitis and generally feeling horrible.

Tonsillitis is not a friend

I'm home sick with Tonsillitus and swollen lymph nodes. I've had sore throats before but this takes the cake. Also I hate being home sick from work, as that is really taboo in Korea. Thankfully it was just my high levels today and not the 6 classes set up. Also I have work for the kids to do in my place. 

I hope to rest up and medicate so that I can return to work tomorrow. I might teach without that works exactly I'll figure out. Maybe make Powerpoints with instructions on it. Fun! 

But really, my throat aches, my ear feels like someone is trying to bash it in and swallowing leaves something to be desired. On top of that I don't have any chicken soup in the house or the ingredients to make it, so I'm going to scramble my resources and see if I can find something outside later. 

First Week Back - Second Semester

The first week of the Fall semester has flown by, and was all right. I started things off by giving one of our homeroom teacher's a gift for her baby. It was a nice soft blanket I found at a baby store. She was very surprised to get it from me. This is her first baby and I thought I would give her a gift to celebrate such an occasion. Later on in the week she came up to me in the lunch room and told me that her son slept very well with the blanket I gave her.

We got our level testing done and unfortunately not much was changed in one class that needed it. However, the rest of the groups seem to be doing all right. A handful of students dropped out of my school, a few of which I was happy and sad to see go. There are some empty spots and I'm sure they will fill them up quick.

Seoul KOTESOL Chapter Meeting

I have decided to take teaching English a bit more seriously, and in that process realized it might be a good idea to join the KOTESOL group. About two or three years ago I attended their international conference they hold each year in the Fall. Although I showed up at the last half of it, I remember it felt great to be around folks who are interested in teaching English.

Yesterday, I attended the Seoul chapter of the group and enjoyed their monthly meeting nearby Sookmyung University. It was a hot and sultry afternoon when I arrived, and due to a busy morning had skipped lunch. But I grabbed a snack and joined folks in the cool air-conditioned room. There I was greeted by Stafford from the Chosun Bimbo, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting at other events. I also was greeted to some other nice folks who are part of the group.


Today I completed my second time of open classes at my current school. When I went through this last year I was way more nervous. I really wanted to make a good impression last year, and so rolled out high energy and a lot of activities. This year, I was still a little nervous but seemed to calmly get through it.

Back to Work

Yesterday was a full day of learning what it will be like to be the team leader of the 2nd grade, at my school. It wasn't too bad, but of course started out with a hiccup. I arrived about 30 minutes early to rearrange the desks, and got this done. Then as I was heading back from a quick peek into a new teacher meeting there were students sitting in my room. I wasn't sure why, and after standing there for a while and seeing the parents outside I realized they were new students. They needed the level test and that is what they were waiting for.

Looking Over My Work While Away

I managed to have some free time today to look over my upcoming work for next semester. I recall how before the semester ended, a few weeks ago, my mind was blown by the team leader stuff coming my way.

I figured I needed to give myself some time and then I can approach it with a clearer mind. Looking at it today I definitely feel better about the new duties. Mostly I see I will need to be that person in the middle who communicates and negotiates requests. There are some major duties to take care of, but I think there will be time to understand it all.

Mostly I just hope I will have enough time to set up my new room, including rearranging the teacher's desks and putting away all my materials. That first day back is a full schedule of orientation meetings and greeting new students. I kind of wish they would give us more time to set up.

First Team Leader Meeting

My mind is in a swirl and I am home cooking tofu stir-fry. But about an hour ago I learned about what it will be like being a team leader next term and the duties that are going to come my way. The school basically wants to overhaul the English Department. Make it more standardized, meaning tests and homework should have a set grading system. It all makes sense, with it showing that we should be more unified and organized. The main goal is to boost the English Department's reputation. For years now, as it has been observed, the attitude was "Here you go, you can figure it out." A very easy going attitude that showed the Korean teachers we were likely lazy and can't be motivated.

The Last Week

I made it! The last week of my first year at S* school is coming to it's end. I am amazed I made it this far considering how difficult it was at the beginning. Also I am impressed at how much my students have advanced and grown. Now I get to see them continue to grow in the 2nd grade.

Extending or Renewing Your Visa Experience 2012

I had the fun and pleasure today of making it to the Anguk Immigration Office to renew / extend my visa. Since I am staying at my school it was necessary for me to go to immigration and get this done on my own.

The documents I needed were pretty basic, compared to getting a new visa. This time all I needed was a copy of my contract, school's registration, passport..alien card...and other ones. Hehe you can check the immigration website.

Out of exit 6 you go up to the SK Hub building and take the stairs to the 2nd floor. Find your way to the big room with all the chairs and people sitting in them. Find the ticket machine and press the green button hard enough to make a ticket come out.

My Fractions Study Guide

Since the start of this recent semester I realized that these kids need extra study aids to get them through all the English math jargon. Also, it was starting to pester me that they kept on mistaking the word square for circle.

As I am planning for next year I am continuing on my path to make study guides. The above is the one I recently made for the fractions chapter. Now I must admit that I am actually a math dummy. However, I did very well during my math classes in college, mostly because I found algebraic formulas fascinating.

Keep it at 20C

A message came to our school that we have to keep our room heaters at 20C. If it is -3C outside then it isn't too warm in here.

This morning I saw the homeroom teachers blasting their rooms at 30C and so figured all is okay. But I don't really know. The official word is if you are caught twice doing it you will pay a huge ass fine. It is some kind of new mandate from the government. But really 20C...are you kidding me? Now I am going to think of buying a space heater for the room or somehow mask over the thermostat so it looks like I'm not using it.

I don't really plan on freezing this coming Winter camp, so you can suck an egg...government!

No More School on Saturdays Means Changes

Just got word, right before I sign my new contract, that due to the "no-more school on Saturdays" thing that there will be changes next year. Basically they are going to start the Fall semester (in August) 2 weeks earlier. This means my summer vacation won't be a full two weeks, and instead is going to end up split between camp. They might consider changing the camp dates to give us a full two weeks, but as things are likely in cement already...I doubt it.

October Field Trip: Dream Forest

For the October field trip the kiddos were taken to the Dream Forest. This was a good idea as it was close to the school, but a sort of bad idea because we walked a lot.

Drama Festival Wrap Up

It went well and all the kids from every group performed to their best. I didn't hear any homeroom teachers complain about it, which is great. Just one snafu, last week one of my boys got scratched by another without my notice. So mom is upset, which makes the homeroom teacher have to deal with this. That leads to said homeroom teacher coming to me and telling me that I should keep my eyes on everyone all the time. Thanks!

So it is the end of October and I believe I should be hearing about my renewal. With this latest snafu I am hoping my ,"Yes, of course I can" attitude keeps everyone happy. But rumors have it that lots of teachers are planning, for various reasons, to move on from this school. So I think they would like to try and keep as many as they can.  I haven't heard anything yet, as the drama festival is still going on for other grades.

The Stress Mill

Drama Festival is next week and so the kids have been pushed to practice their script, dances and positions. The pressure seems to steam off from the homeroom teachers throughout the day. I am trying my best to keep a cool head and also just do the job of practicing with the students.

To be honest, I am tired and just want this to be over with. I don't think I was prepared walking into this, due to that it is becoming so rigorous. Maybe I was naive in that department, or all this "life" stuff blinded me.

But really I am keeping my chin up and hoping for the best. I think the kids will perform well, but that mine will look a little different from the rest.

I think next week they will announce if they will give me another contract or not. So I am kind of holding my breath till then. With my release of being in a relationship I feel like anything is possible, which is both good and scary.

Signing in to work by digital fingerprinting. Good or Bad?

The end of the semester is drawing near and like a narrow tunnel many tasks are piling on. There are final tests to be made and scores of report cards to fill out. In the midst of this we were pulled away from our desks to register our fingers.

The school installed a new system of checking in it's employers. Before, we would just sign our names in a little book, and be on our way. We didn't do much to check out, except change our shoes and give a friendly wave goodbye.

Job Satisfaction

Maybe it is because I didn't have six classes as usual today or that spring is here. I am sure there is a reason but whatever it is I feel really satisfied with my job in Korea, right now. It's the fourth job and I suppose after many trials and errors I have come to a point where I like my work. I wasn't trained to be a teacher but I feel I have learned and survived through enough that I am capable of the job.

I guess it could be that the kids are transitioning out of their kindy-selves and into first graders. Really, though I feel like this job suits me and I am starting to enjoy being in a room full of feisty children. One thing though that has really helped is that I don't do any coteaching anymore. I don't have to worry about coordinating things with someone who doesn't understand me and won't take the time to try.

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