The Best Part of Work

I’ve meant to write more, but I’ve been super busy lately. I haven’t had very much time to just sit down and write for awhile. Actually, I’ve had to split my time between this blog and my writing for LifeinKorea, which is actually totally separate from my own blog now. I wrote one yesterday, but I forgot to log in, and then when I did, it erased everything I wrote, so I quit in rage and went home and watched some movies.

Anyway, this week at work has been extremely strange. We’re required to teach each unit for 20 days, so even though it was only a three day week, and all the work was finished before the vacation, we were required to “teach” the same material for the three days this week. This meant there were only three things I could do. Force the kids who hadn’t finished their book work in class to finish it on their own in class, play a game, or basically give them an arts and crafts assignment. I did a little bit of all three on each day. Also, tons of the kids haven’t returned from their own family vacations, so my classes were super small. The average size was around six to eight kids (usually around 15) and my smallest class was two kids.

The arts and crafts assignment was just that I told them to choose any five of their vocabulary words and draw them in a picture together and label them. Of course, most of the boys, particularly the older ones, have no interest in drawing and coloring and finished as quickly as possible, but most of the girls took it pretty seriously and made them look really nice.

Also, once once you get some kids in a drawing mood, even once they’re done, they’ll continue to draw. I got all of these on Friday:

Actually, I’m not sure who drew this. Either Sally or Yu Jin. Apparently I look like Buddy Holly to them. At the bottom, the bottle says “Cola”, the nickname a lot of kids have given me. “Cola and <3”.

Arianna drew this one of us together. I’m surprised by how well some of these kids can draw. I’m totally jealous of people that can draw. I wish I could, but it’s just a skill I will never possess.

A girl in one of the first grade classes I’m basically substitute teaching for a month drew this for me. I’m not sure of her name. I feel guilty about that.

Angela drew this one for me. She wrote “you!” there for me, but I’m not sure which of the adorable, decidedly female bunnies I am. If I had to pick, I’d choose the cook bunny holding a giant strawberry.

Jane, one of my first graders, went through an origami phase. For two weeks, almost every day in lulls in class she’d bust out some paper and an origami book and make something. Then, she’d usually give it to me. These are just some of the nicer ones she’s given me. I’ve got all manner of flowers and boxes and designs.

The only other thing of note from this week was that I taught the kids about taping signs to other people’s backs. It all started because Sally wrote “My name is babo (‘fool’ in Korean)” on a paper. She came up to me and said “Teacher, read this!” just to bait me into saying it out loud. Being smarter than a third grader, I refused and even one-upped her. I took the sign and slyly placed it one another student’s back. The thing about Koreans is that they can be very touch-y, feel-y, so a kid won’t think anything of you coming up and touching them on the back while you talk to them. Makes it super easy to put the sign on.

The kids laughed like it was the single funniest thing they’d ever seen. I don’t know if this just isn’t a thing in Korea, or what, but taping “I’m stupid” or “Kick me” onto someone’s back is something a lot of kids in America develop an early appreciation for. So, the rest of the day, I did it with each class once they were done with their work. It was a ton of fun. All the kids started making their own signs and putting them on each other. I had a lot of fun.

I’ve thought about whether I want to stay in an elementary school when I renew, or try teaching at a higher level. Recently, I was talking to someone I know who teaches in middle school, and he said that once they get to middle school, the attitude really changes. The seventh graders come in with lots of energy and act like kids and have fun, but as the months go by, they really lose a lot of their energy and personality because of how hard they’re driven to succeed. He told me that recently the Korean teacher in one of his classes lectured and scolded a class for 15 minutes because no one got a perfect score on the test.

Now, of course, there are always exceptions, and there are probably some kids that retain their sense of fun and really let their personality come out, but it still sounds like a depressing environment to teach in. Part of the reason middle school (middle school is three years, 7th-9th grade) is so strenuous is because high schools are applied to just like universities. There are prestigious high schools that require great grades to get into, average schools, and lower grade “technical” schools that stress trade skills.

Still, I can’t imagine not being able to have fun with the kids. Obviously, there’s work I’m required to do and finish, but it’s more than easy to finish all of the work I’m given in the 20 days and have lots of fun, too. My friend said that he has a lot less freedom with the curriculum he’s given, but sometimes he plays games, but even then, particularly with older students, they’re not even interested in games anymore. Sounds awful.

Anyway, these links will take you to my photo albums from my vacation, if you aren’t a Facebook friend of mine:

Also, some Konglish to get back into the rhythm.

Level 2:

Art: This is an ice-hotel. (World)
Art: If there’s no television (Media) *
Art: How to take a good picture with digital camera. (Media)
Art: They call this “college look”. (Art of clothes)
Art: Anything on advertisements looks so delicious. (Media)

*The horror!


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