Archive for the ‘2.10’ Category

First Grade Shenanigans

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

My first grade boys are making me laugh which is good, because my second graders are almost making me cry. We’ve had so many schedule changes recently which doesn’t bother me normally, but since these schedule changes could affect the date of my last class I’ve tried to stay on top of them. I found out on Friday during first period that next Friday most of the classes were cancelled, which meant that this week was going to be my last class with 2.5 and 2.10. I was really really sad.

It was a good class. I managed to wrap up a lot of loose ends within the class and talk to a fair number of the students one-on-one. Sam was there for that class as well as others, and she managed to meet most of the students I regularly blog about. She also got a fistbump from fistbump kid, and had A NICE LOUD CONVERSATION with THIS KID (who we’ve decided we’re now calling Caps Locks Kid because it just fits).

After class I chatted with one student about Model UN for most of the break period, then went outside to find a student I had seen walking normally just minutes earlier hobbling around with one crutch shoved under his armpit, his walking eerily reminiscent of my friend pretending to be an urchin in Oliver Twist at my sixth grade summer drama camp.

“OH NO WHAT HAPP– wait. You didn’t have a crutch five minutes ago.”
“Haha yes I got you teacher.”
“Which poor student did you steal that from? Can the student walk?”
“Yes” he said, shrugging nonchalantly “he’s fine. This is my secret tool.”
“How is it your secret tool?”
“Teachers see me and they say ‘Oh DG, are you okay? You should rest’ and I say ‘okay’ but really I am okay.” Then the bell rang and he hobbled off, yelling over his shoulder “Goooooodbye teacher!”

It’s hard losing my second graders. I’ve got a teacher facebook set up and I’ve given them all my email, but I’ll still miss them, probably more than they’ll miss me. One student last week started up in her seat and exclaimed that they wouldn’t ever have another foreign teacher. While this is not necessarily true, especially if they take English classes in University or go to a private academy, I am the last foreign teacher they’ll ever have in public school, and for some of them the last foreign teacher ever. I’m the end of a long line of foreign teachers they’ve had that have, hopefully, tried to instill in them a love of English, learning, and cross-cultural exchange. They’re growing up and moving on to bigger and better things, though they have to get through this next year first. At least I get to keep some of my students, though next semester I’ll be wary of students on crutches.

Closing Statement – 2.10

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

“And today, I think about all the student’s seen throughout our the year in school – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that South Korean creed: Yes we can. Please vote us.”

I told students that they had to make a short “closing statement” at the end of their debate. I left it very vague, and just told them that it should be something that would make students want to vote for them. After telling them that, I gave them five minutes to decide their speaking order, finish their posters, and write their closing statements. The above is what a group came up with independently, without asking for any help from me.

What Makes You Happy?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

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My Role

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Something I’ve been struggling with since I’ve arrived in Korea, is what exactly my role is as a Native English Speaking Teacher. I feel like many times we’re asked to be, or we assume the role of the fun fun NEST who plays games and acts as a stress relief, but am I okay with being just that? I didn’t realize until a few days ago that I’ve finally decided.

I’ve been staying at the office really late these past few weeks. It used to be because I would study for Korean for one or two hours, but these days I simply don’t have the time. I get most of my Korean studying done between 10 and 11 pm at home. Most of the time I’ve been staying late it’s because I’ve been meeting with students for various things, or preparing stuff for my lessons.

This week we had a national holiday on Wednesday, and exams on Thursday, so I knew that I needed to get all of my stuff done on Tuesday unless I wanted to come in on Thursday (which I did anyway for separate student stuff, but that’s beside the point) but I kept getting sidetracked by various teacher favors, and student letters that I had to edit, so by the time it was 5 pm I was still at school. At this point, a non-English teacher with relatively good English conversation skills who will remain unnamed walks over to me and asks what I’m doing.

Anonymous Teacher: “Emily! What are you still doing at school?”
Me:  ”Oh I’m normally here at this time. Today I’m creating materials for my new lesson.”
AT: Looks at my  materials “Oh wow, you create all of your lessons?”
ME: “…  Yeah I do. Powerpoints too.”
AT: “You have powerpoints for all of your lessons?! I never create a powerpoint, I just use the textbook.”
ME: “I don’t have a textbook, and I create my own curriculum and lessons, so I’m rather free. See, this week I will teach noun suffixes.”
AT: “Suf-fix?”
ME: I briefly explain what a suffix is, and then show the suffixes that I’m planning on teaching. “Because our students are high level, and they must learn many different words in order to do well on reading comprehension tests, I try to teach them patterns that can work as shortcuts in vocabulary acquisition. For example, this suffix,” I point to ‘ness’ “is used in over 3,000 English words. It changes adjectives of quality or state to nouns. If they know what “ness” means, and they can guess the word attached to it, then they can guess the meaning of the whole word.”
AT: “I think that the students will not like this. I think they just want to play with you.”
ME: “… Well, we’re only learning 9 suffixes, and I also created a game that they will play after we learn all nine. It’s based off of Connect 4.” I explain Connect 4, and show her the connect 4  game board, and the Connect 4 game pieces that I have to cut out.
AT: “Don’t you think that’s a little childish?”
ME: Clouds start to cross my face and my eyes start to narrow.
AT: “I mean it’s a great idea, but maybe… well have a good day!”

I am so sick of this. I am sick of being told (by non-English teachers, and by people who aren’t my students – I tend not have a problem with the other English teachers or the students that I teach, mind you) that my purpose is to “play” with students and entertain. My school pays a fair amount for me to be here and to be an English resource. I may not have a set curriculum, and I may not have give out tests or homework, or grade, but my purpose is to teach to the best of my ability. Do I have culture-based classes? Sure, once in a blue moon, tied to some form of critical content whether it be a grammar point or vocabulary practice. Do we have classes based solely on games? Sure, very rarely, normally when there’s some sort of technological failure or right before or after a major exam. Do we watch music videos? We’ve only watched one this semester, and it was to practice similes and metaphors – they had to do a lyrics fill in, and all of the blanks were the nouns in the similes. Now am I ragging on teachers who do these things? Of course not, but it’s just not my style.

On the other hand, games or activities are useful. You can’t just lecture at a class, especially if you have no grading power, and want it to stick. Having a game, or a craft, or some other activity gets them to see how this grammatical construct, or vocabulary, can be used in proper context, and they can also have fun with it. Does creating games take a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Generally, yes. Even if a game appears to be “childish” the fact of the matter is, for a EFL learner, the simpler the rules of the game the better. The less time is spent explaining rules, the more time can be spent actually playing the game. And Connect 4 is by no means a childish game.

Today due to weird scheduling the past few weeks, I did my suffixes lesson for the first time. I greatly underestimated the amount of time needed to go over the part of speech change (or lack thereof), meaning, and examples of all of the roots, so we didn’t have time to play the game, which made it a very dry class for the students. I explained to my two classes, 2.5 and 2.10, both of whom are normally incredibly energetic and do great with tactile but terribly with listening or writing-based lessons, that today there would be a lot of writing. I explained that as Korean students who have to memorize vocab lists every other day, learning shortcuts like these, tricks, will make it easier to not only learn new vocab, but also guess the meaning of vocab that they have never seen before, that if they combine this lesson with my Latin roots lesson, and if try hard to remember this, they’ll start to be able to recognize these patterns. You know what? Even though there was no game, even though they will not be tested on this, and I don’t give grades, these classes focused, and did a really great job. Of their own free will when I would write a suffix up on the board they would brainstorm and call out examples of nouns that had these suffixes, and thus started to interact with and apply the concepts. One of my students thought of “intimacy“ for “acy” (changing an adjective “intimate” into a noun of quality)  and another student remembered “antidisestablishmentarianism“ from my lesson hook, and used it as an example of “ism” (a philosophy, ideology, or doctrine).

At the end of 2.5′s class I praised them and told them that I knew that it was boring, but they did a great job focusing and thank you, and then they agreed that it was a little boring, and then applauded. They also booed when I told them I wouldn’t be teaching them next week, due to YDAC.

The thing is, my students are not idiots. Nor, really, are any Korean high schoolers (“er” is another suffix that I taught them – there are roughly 2,311 words suffixed with “er” according to Wikitionary). They are not children. They are not people that would appreciate me spending all of my class time “playing with” them. They are teenagers who are driven to succeed, otherwise they wouldn’t be at my school. Is it important that my class is stress free? Heck yes, there’s no denying that a lot of this behavior is not fully healthy. However, these students want to learn, and I’m going to do my best to continue to teach them – by teaching them valuable, useful things, and by practicing it whenever possible through games.

Black 기분

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Ugh.

This week. This week.

My 기분 has been weird all week, and throughout the day as my thoughts continue to brew in my head, they just get darker and darker, and more bitter. Nothing tremendously bad happened, but it’s a black 기분 day, and it doesn’t take a lot on these types of days to make me upset.

The day started with an uneasy feeling, and I accidentally prepared the wrong lesson for one of my classes. I managed to realize and correct my mistake before the students noticed, but it still threw me off balance. I then went to teach my favorite class (2.5) and at the end of class I heard that for Sports Day they had given the German teacher a class jersey to wear. Now. The German teacher and I have a strange relationship, one I’ve been meaning to blog about, but suffice to say I’m not pleased. They then asked me which class’s jersey I was going to wear. No one’s, that’s who. They then looked kind of guilty, and told me that next year they’d give me a jersey, and I told them that next year I wouldn’t be their teacher. I didn’t mean to guilt trip them, that wasn’t my intention at all – I was just stating a fact. However, it’s always been a dream of mine to get a Sports Day jersey, and I’m 0 for 2. It doesn’t help that the German teacher’s been at CP for half the time I have.

Then I went onto 2.10 who after a week full of teaching never really stick out in my mind. They’re one of the classes that if you ask me to describe them, I just can’t really think of anything to say. Terrible, I know, but when you teach 24 individual classes sometimes the details blur. They were just the icing on my terrible cake-of-a-week. Not super bad in and of themselves, but fidgety, consistently talking, and sleeping. There was a quartet in the back that were especially bad – while what they were doing was perhaps no worse than any of the other students’ actions, they weren’t attempting to hide their actions.

Don’t worry, I’m not going all third Spiderman movie on you (see, I can still make jokes. The true tragedy in that movie is that Peter Parker takes himself too seriously), plenty of good has happened today as well. I just need to accept this black 기분 for a little longer, and then let it disperse.

We don’t have a party

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Today with twenty minutes left in class I gave 2.10 some independent study time because they have their midterms next week. As they silently studied, the minutes ticked away, and I worked on my Korean journal. With ten minutes left to go, I hear a whisper from the middle of the room.

“Teacher. In America, do students study like this? Do they have a party?” He paused, shook his head, and sadly whispered “We don’t have a party…”

At this point the entire class bursts out laughing.

I then closed my journal, and explained my general high school life, that I went to school from 7:25 until 2:15 (cue sighs of envy) but then after school I did band, and I had a part-time job. I mentioned that while I studied significantly less, I also had a lot of other activities I was doing, and I was in the higher-level classes. I also explained how in college I would study a lot, and had a study schedule similar to theirs and a part-time job. Surprisingly at this point, I had the entire attention of the class - more so than during the review game we had played earlier.

“Teacher, in high school… boyfriend? Did you have?”

I explained that I had had two boyfriends and gave their names (by the way if either of you are reading this, then they think that your names are cool – especially my first boyfriend’s last name).

“Teacher, in college did you have a boyfriend?”

I explained that in college I had had two more boyfriends (no names given this time).

“Teacher, now, do you have a boyfriend?”
“No.”
“You liar.”
“Look at my fingers, guys, no boyfriend.”
“That is bad.”
“WHAT? Why is it bad?”
“You should get married. If you are married, then your parents will not worry.”
“Hah, no, I’m too young to marry.”

GENERAL UPROAR

“TEACHERRRRRR – How old are you?”
“… That’s still a secret.”