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A fun activity to do with my kindergarteners is something I call...



A fun activity to do with my kindergarteners is something I call “mixing animals.” I ask my students what their two favorite animals are, and we combine them, or as I tell them, “mix them together.”

Often the children pick insects (e.g. butterflies and dragonflies), but there aren’t any rules. I do recommend helping them when naming their new creature, or you’ll end up with “buttham” which is the combination of a butterfly and hamster.


An activity I like to do with my kindergarteners is a pizza...



An activity I like to do with my kindergarteners is a pizza craft. I have cards with various vocabulary, such as pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, cheese, dough, and tomato sauce. This is a breakdown of the activity:


11 Months (and One Day) Later

I used to eat at home a lot more than I do now.

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Hi, Ethan.

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The Law of the Land

Sometimes kids lock horns with each other in  surprisingly intense ways. The epic battle over the empty seat.  The squabble over who turned in their work first.  The showdown over who gets to write the answer to question number 7 on the board.  In America, the teacher is usually the go-to mediator for such disputes.  As the adult in the room, he or she gets to make any and all final rulings with regard to classroom policy and procedures.  

However, here in Korea, there is a god higher than that of the teacher’s authority, a totem so sacred that to defy its judgment would be like spitting on the taeggukgi, the symbol of what it means to be South Korean.  This arbiter is exacting, lightning quick, and utterly beyond reproach.  It does not play favorites, nor is it swayed by tears or pleas or even good behavior.  Its word is law, and every student unquestioningly accepts this as truth.  


Children in Peril

Many of my children never realize just how close to their own demise they come as they test my patience and faith in humanity in the classroom.  Having survived a dozen years in the classroom, most of the time I can let their behavior roll off my back–after all, they are just kids–but some days the urge to kill threatens to break my composure.  Yesterday was one of those days. 

Here, presented for your amusement, are my pedagogical frustrations in blog form. No children were harmed in the creation of this posting….yet.

If another child thrusts another paper into my face, I swear to God I  will rip it into tiny pieces and force him or her to EAT every last bit of it.  Is it too much to ask a child to calm down long enough to turn in work in a civilized manner?  


Anti-Education and My 50% Success Rate at Answering Korean English Exam Questions

So, I am an Englishman flown in to South Korea to help educate their young in English.  In my school my level of English is obviously unmatched (I am English after-all) so why is it I am so bad at answering English exam questions in Korea?

Perhaps I only ever get asked about the tricky questions, or maybe I am just a dumbass, but it turns out that I am right about 50% of the time in my estimation.  In many ways it is embarrassing, why can't a reasonably well educated native English speaker, from England, who has spoken, read, listened and wrote in English all his life, answer questions correctly in a country where the overall level of English is poor (this is not a criticism, just simply that English is not their first language)?

Say What?! Episode 10: How Do I Poop at School? Squat Toilet Tips

One of the biggest anxieties that I hear about from new or prospective teachers applying to EPIK is about the bathroom situation at public school! I hope these tips will help you calm some fears about using squat toilets, which you will most likely have to do if you work at public school!

1.) Find the 교무실 (the teacher’s room) in your school, and look for the bathroom nearby. That bathroom will usually have toilet paper and soap!

2.) Keep soap, hand sanitizer, and tissue in your desk. I would keep tissue in your bag/purse whereever you go, but keep an extra set of tissues just for school!

3.) Depending on your office situation, teachers may chip in to buy office supplies, snacks, coffee, and tissue. Ask your co-teacher or officemate about the system they use. But I’d go ahead and bring everything you need and keep it in your desk just in case! Ask your co-teacher if they have a system or if you should donate some money to buy tissue for the office.


My hagwon (or “private academy”) went on a field trip to an...


Bad Banana

Bad Banana
Today the kids at school, being charming as ever, gave me the nickname of Bad Banana. Now they mention it...

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Guest Post: All Foreigners Come Back

About two years ago Conor wrote a real nice piece about me as I had just left Korea. It’d been a pretty long journey for me as I’d been there for five years. As Conor wrote I was pretty excited to do some things I’d been saving and planning for a while, but beneath all that was some anxiety as my long term plans were still unclear.

It’s a long story but the short version is my first job out of college was teaching in the Midwestern United States. It was a tough place with a lot of challenges, and after two years I decided to leave. I had the idea in my head that I accomplished something, and thought I now deserved some fabulous life or something like that. Basically as soon as I left my life went downhill. Lots of different things went wrong, had some ugly experiences etc. One thing led to another and I ended up taking a job in Korea.


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