It's been a rough week... and it's only Monday. Today I taught (in this order): 3rd grade, 2nd grade, 1st grade, 2nd grade, (lunch), 4th grade, after school beginners (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and after school intermediates (4th, 5th, and 6th).
New Coteacher is stressing me out. I don't want this to be a negative place where I go to rant, so I'm simply going to say that we're still ironing out the kinks of her new work environment.
That being said, I came home and went on a "stress run" today, then went to rock climbing gym with some friends. Its all part of my new workout routine called "Have A Stressful Coteacher." If things keep up at school like this, I'll be running tough mudders by the end of term.
Also, definitely not going to be able to move tomorrow.
Tis I. I'm back. My two month pseudo-vacation has come to a close, and it's back to the grindstone for your friendly neighborhood blogger/ESL teacher. The first day of school has already wrought many changes. I have a new coteacher, for one thing. Coteacher (henceforth known as Old Coteacher) had to take extended leave for family reasons. So now, I have a brand new teacher to show around. This is shenanigans because I barely know what's going on anyway, so having to show the ropes to a new person is like the blind leading the blind, if you'll pardon the used-to-death simile. As I've mentioned, I only have one coteacher, unlike most public schools in Seoul. It's because my school is teeny tiny. Also, New Coteacher will be at another school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, effectively making me the head English teacher and de facto head of the English department. Check out how cool I am.
Korea has many.. ahem.. unique features. Some might call them quirks. Whatever you call them, they're little details that sometimes have a big(ish) effect on your day.
My personal favorite is the bathroom music. At my school, there's a speaker in the bathroom. It's motion-activated so when someone walks in, it starts playing a selection of classical music. I have no idea where it gets the music (radio? endless tape loop in the main office?), but it's always something classical.
One of the ajummas who cleans the school just came in and scolded me for something. She was speaking sternly very closely to my face and poking me. Eventually she asked for a piece of paper and wrote down what I have since translated to "Why are you alone?" She kept poking me and telling me (I believe) to go to the teachers lounge. I would have interpreted this to mean that something is going on there, but A: I was just there 5 minutes ago to get coffee and B: I would have gotten a message on the school system about it.
I think she was just telling me to stop being antisocial.
I am on Day 2 of Epic Deskwarming Week. You may be wondering, "Meg, what the hell is deskwarming?" Allow me to explain.
Due to a weird feature of my contract, the number of vacation days I am allotted does not match up with the number of vacation days the school has. I don't have enough vacation days to be able to have the full school holidays off, resulting in weeks like this one. School is not in session, no other teachers are here (the only souls I've seen are a few administrators), and yet I have to come to school and sit at my desk for the day to fulfill my contract hours. The teaching community has dubbed this "deskwarming."
Well, the semester is over! That includes English camp which lasts 2 weeks after the semester close. This means I get to do the beloved "desk warming" detail. That means I sit in my chair all day and keep it warm!
Shyuh, what else would it mean?
Aaaand since so many of you are dying to know what a Korean public school is like, I decided to make a little tour video for your curious viewing pleasure. So here it is. Please excuse the face warping that happens. I used the YouTube video stabilizing tool and it did funny things to my head. For the rest of the video though, it really worked well. The original RAW footage was very shaky.
I am constantly getting little snacks or gifts from students throughout each week. I get birthday cards, Christmas cards, paper origami things, cookies, etc. Well, today was the last official day of the school year and it was light-hearted classes and an English pop song singing contest. Students dumped their books and notepads in a huge haphazard mountain in the parking lot as many schools do and then they beat feet.
For some, the day wasn't over until they dropped off a final gift or two. They are so sweet, aren't they? The little origami things they make are so cool. I don't know how their little fingers make the folds. I even received a little portrait, semi-anime style. Hey, it looked just like me. I just sat at my desk and smiled inside.
Like every teacher, there are some students who become your favorites for one reason or another. They always find a way to find you in the hallways and say "hello!" or talk about random things.
While we were hit with a flash snowy afternoon, I decided to get my camera out to video some of it. Just then, some of my favorites found a way to find me. They don't like cameras, so I needed another tactic to get them on film.