It's been almost two months into my second year at my school, and I figured it is time to talk about being a Team Leader. This title makes me in charge of three other foreign Native English teachers in my department (2nd grade). It also means that I am in the intermediary between the English crew and the Korean homeroom teachers. When I was first given this duty I was stricken with fear that I couldn't do it, and would find myself stressed out too much. Today I am going to expose how being a Team Leader has developed for me and give insights into what's been happening so far.
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.
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.
Camp, as mentioned earlier, wasn't planned very well even though the planning committee did do hard work. I want to step up for winter camp and plan some new stuff for them, but am trying to lay-low so not to seem like a pushy person.
There are just three more days of camp and thank goodness! Although, tiring and often mind-boggling strange, the camp has been going pretty well. I have learned what the low-levels need and how better to pace myself for them. They take time to process the English and I try to give it to them in a slow yet understandable manner. But mostly they want to learn through games, crafts and activities. I guess that is true for all first-graders.
My one week vacation ended this morning as Tom nudged me awake at 6:30. I know not to wake up immediately because of this, but when I did wake up I knew that three weeks of camp were ahead of me.
Things I've Learned:
First graders do require a lot of energy, but you don't have to put on a show all the time. They like games and things for them to do that can keep their minds and hands busy. Teaching at a private elementary school has a lot of benefits when compared to my previous job. I have enjoyed the lack of coteaching and love being in control of my own classroom. However, I have not escaped the Korean workplace and still encounter many snafus related to this. I've learned that patience is the key and one can be strict with the students but not take it emotionally.
My gosh did it go so fast! I am really pleased that this semester has come to an end. Of course, kind of not looking forward to three weeks of camp with the same group of kids. But, in essence the toils and trials of everyday work will not come to me again till September.
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.
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.
After talk of what we will do and such rituals we came to a discussion of the woes-of-work. So it is that I found out my troubles are not isolated and this is basically how the school functions. Everyone said they had issues with bad students and groups and that it is tough to get them involved. Alongside this everyone experiences the murky communication amongst the departments. In essence, I am not alone in my troubles and probably shouldn't have thought so anyways.
Today I am feeling a bit better, consciously not physically, about these conundrums at work. Our school has put together committees of teachers to assess things like curriculum, camp and other topics. I am on the curriculum committee and we had our first meeting today.
So cute with their missing teeth...