Archive for the ‘letters’ Category

Overwhelmed but Happy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m currently working on a bunch of blog posts, like one based on my reactions (and those of the people around me) to Kim Jong Il’s death, so I apologize to everyone whose asked me that I haven’t gotten back to yet.

It’s the last day of school. Technically my contract says that I finished yesterday but since I’m not flying out until the 29th it didn’t make sense to skip school on Friday and have my co-teachers have to cover my classes. I’m glad I stayed, also because I just have so much work to do.

Here are my winter vacation plans, for those who are interested: I’ll be traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam from December 29th until January 15th. I then teach at my school’s winter camp from (not really a winter camp, just normal classes) from January 16th – 20th. Then I immediately fly out again and travel in Taiwan from January 22nd – 27th. Then I come home, rest for a few days, and move to Seoul at the beginning of February in order to take an intensive three week Korean program. Whew.

I’m also glad I didn’t miss school because I received a present from my club class girls. Yesterday was our last club class and when I came in they had turned off the lights and made a cake out of mongshells (similar to a chocopie cake, but a different brand) with a candle on top and were playing Christmas music. They made me blow out the candle, then we ate snacks and they presented me with the present – which they then took back because it wasn’t completed, and gave it back to me this morning.

Their present is a large black piece of posterboard with the cut-out of a pumpkin illuminating the back, and notes from all of the students in the club class (eight) posted on there, as well as a drawn iture of me, and a Santa Claus. It’s adorable. They’re all adorable. However, I’m going to share the two that touched me the most, written by my two favorite second grade girls (who I won’t be teaching anymore, because they’ll be preparing for the college entrance exam) because they answered a lot of the questions and insecurities I have been feeling recently as a teacher.

To. Emily
Emily!! I’m EH ~
I was happy to be your student. I felt many things through your class!!
Various thinking, culture, food, game, all of things were fresh and interesting to me. Emily, I’m sure your charisma, sense of humor (joke) and preparations (about class) make great teacher and diplomat. I’m sad because I do not CA [my note: CA = Club Activity] anymore. But I’m happy because you give me a present!! did you know? You give me a beautiful memory and brave. Thank you ~ <3.
Your present perfect to me when I pass 수능 [수능 = suneung = college entrance exam]
I want to visit your hometown with you and CA friends ^^.
I’m very proud of you !!!
Thank you for teaching me ~
Bye ~ From: EH

The above note was from one of the girls I took with me to the Youth Diplomacy program. I’m going to miss her!

To: Emily ~
Hello, Emily. I’m DH. I can’t believe I’m 3rd grade student (exactly soon) and can’t take your class anymore. Times run too fast ㅠㅠ. All classes that we had together were so great that I will miss the class. I think you are a person who are alive. Not just alive but vividly alive. When I see you I can feel your energy reaches me, which always motivates my passion. I was moved by your passion for teaching and respect to students. Carving pumpkin, mafia game, making mummy… and so on. All of our class won’t be forget. Thank you very much about all of that. I’ll visit your home in Washington D.C> later after KSAT.
Again Thank you Thank you… Bye!! See you later.
p.s. I’ll bring a baby kangaroo from Australia.. ㅋㅋ [this was one of the 3 students at my school who won a prize in the Damyang speech competition I helped out with - I told them all I wanted a kangaroo]
From, funny DH

Overwhelmed but Happy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m currently working on a bunch of blog posts, like one based on my reactions (and those of the people around me) to Kim Jong Il’s death, so I apologize to everyone whose asked me that I haven’t gotten back to yet.

It’s the last day of school. Technically my contract says that I finished yesterday but since I’m not flying out until the 29th it didn’t make sense to skip school on Friday and have my co-teachers have to cover my classes. I’m glad I stayed, also because I just have so much work to do.

Here are my winter vacation plans, for those who are interested: I’ll be traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam from December 29th until January 15th. I then teach at my school’s winter camp from (not really a winter camp, just normal classes) from January 16th – 20th. Then I immediately fly out again and travel in Taiwan from January 22nd – 27th. Then I come home, rest for a few days, and move to Seoul at the beginning of February in order to take an intensive three week Korean program. Whew.

I’m also glad I didn’t miss school because I received a present from my club class girls. Yesterday was our last club class and when I came in they had turned off the lights and made a cake out of mongshells (similar to a chocopie cake, but a different brand) with a candle on top and were playing Christmas music. They made me blow out the candle, then we ate snacks and they presented me with the present – which they then took back because it wasn’t completed, and gave it back to me this morning.

Their present is a large black piece of posterboard with the cut-out of a pumpkin illuminating the back, and notes from all of the students in the club class (eight) posted on there, as well as a drawn iture of me, and a Santa Claus. It’s adorable. They’re all adorable. However, I’m going to share the two that touched me the most, written by my two favorite second grade girls (who I won’t be teaching anymore, because they’ll be preparing for the college entrance exam) because they answered a lot of the questions and insecurities I have been feeling recently as a teacher.

To. Emily
Emily!! I’m EH ~
I was happy to be your student. I felt many things through your class!!
Various thinking, culture, food, game, all of things were fresh and interesting to me. Emily, I’m sure your charisma, sense of humor (joke) and preparations (about class) make great teacher and diplomat. I’m sad because I do not CA [my note: CA = Club Activity] anymore. But I’m happy because you give me a present!! did you know? You give me a beautiful memory and brave. Thank you ~ <3.
Your present perfect to me when I pass 수능 [수능 = suneung = college entrance exam]
I want to visit your hometown with you and CA friends ^^.
I’m very proud of you !!!
Thank you for teaching me ~
Bye ~ From: EH

The above note was from one of the girls I took with me to the Youth Diplomacy program. I’m going to miss her!

To: Emily ~
Hello, Emily. I’m DH. I can’t believe I’m 3rd grade student (exactly soon) and can’t take your class anymore. Times run too fast ㅠㅠ. All classes that we had together were so great that I will miss the class. I think you are a person who are alive. Not just alive but vividly alive. When I see you I can feel your energy reaches me, which always motivates my passion. I was moved by your passion for teaching and respect to students. Carving pumpkin, mafia game, making mummy… and so on. All of our class won’t be forget. Thank you very much about all of that. I’ll visit your home in Washington D.C> later after KSAT.
Again Thank you Thank you… Bye!! See you later.
p.s. I’ll bring a baby kangaroo from Australia.. ㅋㅋ [this was one of the 3 students at my school who won a prize in the Damyang speech competition I helped out with - I told them all I wanted a kangaroo]
From, funny DH

Goodbyes Part 1: Monday

Monday, July 11th, 2011

This is my last week of classes.

I teach only 12 classes, which is a very small number compared to most of the other F*bright teachers (contractually, we can be asked to teach up to 20 hours a week). However, there are only 18 classes at my school, and because my school does not want me to teach 3rd grade, and because they want me to teach classes only once a week, I can only teach 12 classes. I chose my six of my classes (two from each English level group) to write letters to next year’s teacher. What I wasn’t expecting, was for two students to sneakily take extra paper and also write me letters. Super cute.

For the most part, I feel a tighter bond with my second graders than my first graders. Since the Korean school year starts in March, I did not teach my current first graders last semester, so the second graders are the only students I’ve had for a full year. Therefore even my really low-level shy or unmotivated students have grown a lot more comfortable with me than their first grade counterparts. Today I started my day teaching class 2.4 (2nd grade, fourth class – all boys, about 18 students, low level) during first period. We did a class on American high schools versus Korean high schools, wrote letters to the new teacher, and then just hung out for a bit after class. At the end of class, five of my boys came up in order to shake my hand, doing the two-handed handshake that denotes respect, while slightly bowing.

Though I feel more strongly connected to my second graders, I can’t help but love the raw energy that my first graders have to offer. I wish I was staying longer so I could get to know them – I’ve gotten to know a few of them one-on-one, but having students for six months versus a full year is not the same. After teaching class 2.4 I went on to teach class 1.4 (first grade, co-ed, approximately 30 students, intermediate) during second period. Apparently as part of their English final exam (which I had no part in, did not write the questions, grade the test, nor did I see any of the answers), the intermediate first grade students had to write a letter in English to one of their friends. One of the students chose to write a letter to me. When my co-teacher asked him why, he said that he was going to miss me when I left and he wanted to say thank you. My co-teacher then gave me the letter:

Dear Teacher Emily
Hello teacher?
Your class taught me so many things.
I will miss you…
I was really happy to study with a good teacher like you.
I’ll be looking forward to see you again someday!
You’ll be someday back and we’ll be someday meet again.

PS.I’ll remember you. I’ll believe you would make you remember me.

Thank you.
From: Smiles [for the sake of his privacy, if his friends ever for some reason find my blog sludge through all the weird words and parenthetical clauses and happen upon this entry, I'm giving him the pseudonym "Smiles" because he has the most adorable smile.]

 

This student happens to be one of my favorites (I mean what? I don’t have favorites…) During Random Hamburgers on my Desk Week (blog entry for that coming soon) he was one of the students that made me a hamburger and wrote me a note. I’m going to miss Smiles. Don’t worry, we’ll someday meet again.

The Effects of the Pen Pal Project

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Remember that pen pal project I’m doing with students?  Almost everyday I receive pictures and a letter from someone writing to their Sapgyo High School penpal. I put the pictures onto Flickr and then I write the blog entry, and take the pictures from Flickr (to save space) and put them in the blog post. Then at the beginning of every class I choose one letter (I try to pick easy to understand letters, or letters from cool places with great pictures) to share with the class and we read through it and comprehend it together. After that I show all of the pictures from all of the other letters we received that week, give brief backgrounds about the people who went them and the locations of the letter, and then give physical copies of the letters to each student. I unfortunately don’t have time to go over all of the letters in detail with the whole class, but at least this way we can read one letter together, they can see all of the pictures, and people get physical copies of their individual letters.

It’s a fun project, but I’m never sure how much students are getting out of it. They’re always excited to receive letters, but how much do they pay attention to the letters versus the pictures? I tried to get people who live in many different places and have many different jobs and lifestyles to write back, do my students understand or internalize that at all? Do any of my students interact with the project outside of class?

I just found out that yes, in fact, at least some of the students are interacting with this project outside of class. A student dropped by the teacher’s office during the lunch period and asked for my help. She’s a 2nd grade intermediate student, which means she’s very busy, and spends most of her free time studying. She put down in front of me a letter she written to her penpal in response to his letter, and asked me to help her edit it. She was so pleased with her penpal’s letter, she wanted to write one back to respond and to say thank you. I never even suggested that students should write back, this was her idea entirely.  I helped her edit it, and then she told me she would give me a copy so I could send it to her penpal. A student did work outside of class of her own free will, practicing English, because of my project. I feel really happy right now. Thanks everyone, who wrote a letter to a Sapgyo High School student – it means a lot to me, and it apparently means a lot more to them than I had thought or even hoped it would.