Dear readers, I hope this blog entry finds you well. I cannot believe how long it has been since I last posted on Chomsongdae! It has been just over 4 months since I have permanently moved to Korea after years of going back and forth. Adjusting to life in Korea after living in Canada for over 10 years was definitely not easy. You won't be able to imagine all the adventures, challenges, and also fun that I have had here.
Today we had a Snow Day!! Just kidding, it was a Typhoon Day! But for a Hoosier like me who did not grow up with Hurricanes, or Typhoons, a random day off from school almost always because of snow. This is my 2nd Typhoon Day this year and since nothing bad happened it is awesome, but chances are we won’t get any snow days.
So since I am in the house avoiding the wind and rain, my 5 Awesomely Awesome Things will be Typhoon themed.
This week I’ve been feeling under the weather. I ended up getting food poisoning which was not fun. Since I’ve been cooped up a bit this week, I thought I would share a few things that have made this week a bit brighter.
Field Trips are a nice break from a normal day, even if they do tend to turn the kids into zombies those afternoons. This time we went to the English library. It was nice, and was a good excuse for some quality one-on-one story time with some of the kiddos.
Nara, like so many places in Japan, is known for its historical importance. But, unlike anywhere else in the world, it is also known (to me at least) as the place I got bit by a deer.
When I first arrived in Nara, which was a really short train ride from Kyoto, I kept seeing signs saying that 2010 was Nara’s 1300th anniversary as an imperial capital. It took my Americanized brain a moment to realize that the signs weren’t talking about the 130th anniversary, but way more impressive- the 1,300th year anniversary.
Korean kids give the best Birthday Cards. It has happened enough that I will claim it as fact.
Both of the Birthdays I have spent in Korea have been highlighted by amazingly sweet cards from my students.
My most prized 'thing' I took away from the year I spent at Daegyo Elementary was my Birthday card from the girls in 6-3 class. They wrote me little notes and drew me a great picture and even laminated it for me. It has since been hung up in both the places I lived last year, and is waiting at my Mom's house for when I come back.
With a large influx of new students for the summer, I feel even more thankful for my 'big kids' of Orion Class. Teaching the eldest of the Kindergarten kiddos has its perks, which sometimes slip from my mind when I'm trying to teach the tougher classes such as Speech and Composition (yes I am trying to teach little kids to write speeches, essays, and poems).
Yesterday during a Dictation Exercise (yes my Kindergarteners have to do Dictation Exercises) I found this as one of the answers.
Now as beginning writers and spellers, I tell them that for Dictation that spelling doesn't matter, as long as it is something close to what the word should be, but this one made me giggle.
Instead of 'talked' one of my kids wrote 'toke'. I didn't want to draw attention kid for trying and making an honest mistake, but I still couldn't help myself and took a picture of it while my kids were out of the room.
*Be the person you envy. Live the life you’d be envious of if you saw someone else living it.*
Here is my first travel piece published in my hometown NH newspaper. I hope to write a piece each month for the paper – wish me luck. I have included the first paragraph and you can click the link for the rest. What should I write about next?
Some days when it's raining, or work is particularly stressful... or both, I just need a reminder of why I love it here. The good times and the beauty can be so great that it makes the hard parts feel harder, or it could be one of those moments of cultural frustration referred to as K-rage. But either way, I needed to look at a few things I find so great and beautiful Korea, and so I decided to share it with you.
So in case your Monday was as rough as mine, or you just want to look at something pretty, I've got the antidote.
Hi all, we hope the semester is progressing well for everyone. BG-KOTESOL will have a meeting on June 16th. The meeting will be hi-lighted by a presentation on using comic books in the classroom, from the Daegu President of KOTESOL, Peadar (sp?...last name??). We hope to see all of you there while we learn to make our classroom’s more engaging.
What:June 2012 Chapter Meeting When: Saturday, June 16th, at 2:30pm Where: On the 4th floor of the ESS in Nampo Dong: subway exit #7 (unmarked), turn left around the corner, the building is on the left. Who: All members and non-members invited.
Some certain media outlets would have you believe that as a teacher I am pushing my own agenda onto my students. And they're right.
It is my mission this year to push my personal agenda of great books!
Thankfully my school is the perfect place for this. We are stocked with a GIANT library of English story books. We are so lucky to have such a have a huge selection. There is everything from Curious George and Dr. Seuss classics to "How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight" which is a book I bought for my cousin's son this past Christmas.
I teach a weekly current events Kindergarten class called "Current Issue," which has turned into "Jenna-teacher-gets-to-pick-her-favorite-books-to-read-at-story-time", and so far the response from the kiddos has been great.
I love being inspired by Korea’s continued cuteness that I spot in random places almost daily:
1) My students furiously fight for a place at my white board during the 5 minute class breaks. I beg them to use the bathroom or get a drink of water so as not to interrupt the next class session with inconvenient breaks, but they always want to take the precious break time to impress me with their drawing skills. How can you not love this drawing of ‘Devan Teacher’?
2) I love spotting splashy eye-popping colors plastered on such mundane objects such as this delivery truck. The pink is just perfect!
3) Dunkins is continuously impressing me with their iced-coffee holders. This one is just adorable!
A friend from college who spent two previous years in Korea quickly became my go-to source for random questions and concerns before my final decision to sign, stamp and send my teaching contract back to my recruiter. She planned to return home to the US shortly before my own departure date. I was lucky enough to meet up with her in Boston for a quick drink and a much needed pep talk that reassured me I was making the right decision by moving to Korea (“Korea!?” – all my friends/family at holiday gatherings).
This evening after running some post-work errands, as I was nearing my apartment I decided it was too nice out to go home. Does anyone else ever feel that way? The weather was too nice, and there was still too much of the sun hanging in the sky to go sit in my apartment. So instead, I decided to roam my neighborhood, specifically my street.
I love the book Where the Wild Things Are, I have since I was little. I remember when my Kindergarten teacher read the book to the class, I also remember that I was convinced that it was a book written by her husband since both their last names were Sendak.
To honor and remember the awesomeness that was Maurice Sendak's literary legacy, I decided yesterday's Current Issue class would be a great way to introduce some of Mr. Sendak's Wild Things to some of my Wild Things.
The other day I found this photo that I had already forgotten about. It was taken of me and my kindergarten class on the first of our Monthly Field Trips, and man does it accurately portray the dynamic of my class even now (although I will say they are a lot better than they once were).
I have long since given you a tour of my apartment, so I guess it's only fair to get a tour of my school. Worwick is very different from the public school I used to work at, but still fairly common as far as Hagwons or private academies go. We are the 5th floor of a building not too far from my house.
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.
One thing I don’t talk too much about here is work. The reasons why are because it’s work, and work is work, and there are plenty of people out there who are more suited to talking about my line of work than I am, and more importantly, I don’t want to talk about work.
I talk with co-workers about work all day in work. It’s work talk. The same work talk that everyone else talks about in work, which usually involves complaining/marvelling over something irrelevant to the rest of the immediate world. It’s not very exciting and the less I have of it the better. Sometimes I talk with Herself about work, and she politely grunts and changes the subject, which I’m grateful for. I do enough talking about work and you don’t deserve, need, or really want to hear me go on about work.
I have taught in Korea for approximately two and a half years now, and have taught at three different schools; two academies and I am currently teaching at an all boys High School. The students are generally fantastic, they are respectful, obedient, and hard working (if you know what buttons to push), but what I like most of all is their character. With all the study they have to do, you can't help but feel for the poor little mites. For example, in my high school (ages 16-18) they start their day at 8am and finish at 10-11pm at night, a fourteen hour plus day at school! In middle and elementary schools the day is not so long, but parents make up for this by sending their children to private after school academies called 'Hagwons'. Most students study at least a couple of hours every day after school in these academies with homework on top of this as well. Some students, however, can go to up to four different academies after school, and may possibly do Taekwondo or Hapkido also
It's Student Profile Time-aka let's talk about my kiddos.
I only managed to do two student profiles on two very special kids at DaeGyo, but with only five kids in my Kindergarten class and five in my afternoon class of 2nd graders it won't be hard to cover all my kids, if not almost all of the kiddos at school.
First up is my little Kindergarten space cadet: Owen. Owen is probably my sweetest boy and just such a cutie. All of my kids have outstanding English, and they all have strengths in different areas- Owen is a great speller and a connoisseur of Jollaman.
This past Friday we celebrated the Birthday of the youngest student at Worwick, Phillip.
Apparently since we're such a small school, once a month we celebrate those who have Birthday's that month with Birthday Cake and Juice Boxes and a little more indulgent lunch, and a nice little photo op. I know Phillip also got a few gifts from the other students (or more likely from the other students' parents).
Today, March 14th in Korea is "White Day" (it's also Pi Day, which I'm really bummed that went almost the whole day without realizing it- and missed both times to celebrate 3/14 at 1:59 and 26 seconds). White Day is the male counterpart of Valentine's Day - which is where women give chocolate to the man in their life and then a month later, the men reciprocate.
I wasn't really expecting anything to come out of this day other than chocolate to be on sale tomorrow, but as usual, I was wrong.
First, our principal who is both laid back and no-nonsense bought a basket of goodies for all the teachers in the office (which are all girls except one outnumbered guy). It was nice and filled with candied nuts and little cookies and some gummy candies and hung out in the staff office to be grazed on all day.
Tomorrow rounds out my first week teaching at Worwick and I will say in some ways it's very different from DaeGyo, but in others it's as if nothing has changed.
This time around the class sizes are one of the biggest differences. This year my largest class is a whopping 5 kids. Their parents call constantly to critique everything from my handwriting to the types of assignments I give (and yes I am expected to give even my kindergarteners real homework).