Better than manageable

Half way through the first week of classes and I can see this is going to be a good year.

The new first graders are attentive – THEY EVEN TOOK NOTES !!! – and awesome.

The second graders are the ones I’ve developed a relationship with last year.

Third grade is elective, so all those rotten architecture students are gone, gone, gone.  (though I must say, the ones I do have are just like my last batch of third graders)  I mean, FIRST DAY of our classes together and I’m hearing

“Break time”

“Teacher I’m tired.”

“Stop teaching.”


“Time.  Break time.”

Aigo…And the passive co-teacher just chuckles with an “isn’t that cute” attitude.  Why even bother offering it as a class?

Teaching from the national curriculum is easier, as it reduces my scope and gives me fodder for counterpoint.  Although I find it complicated to keep things straight, as I’ve got four different textbooks, and the three first graders are split up into two levels of academic and then the lower technical students. Plus I was given the teacher’s manuals but not always the students’ books and none of the students’ workbooks, so I have to view everything electronically, and it’s unwieldy.  I make power points of the textbook (except for the book which is missing, and which is locked from saving and which I have to SCAN the ENTIRE BOOK) which helps the kids and me see where we are at.  Then I digress or illustrate my own grammar pointers or more common expressions, etc. off to the side.  I think it’s working well.  Co-teachers seem pleased (because this is probably the stuff they normally skip or can’t do well) and I can teach the class alone if I have to, as the lessons just instantly have more gravity to the students as they are connected to what they will have to be tested on.  Anyway, I’m hoping this can be somewhat formulaic so I can have a life this year and won’t be lesson-planning at home anymore.  Now if I could just stop with the after school naps I could get more use out of my evenings…

For my first non-book exercise, though, I’ve made each student in the whole school write on index cards their names in Korean, their English nick-names, 3 things that interest them, and what they want to become.  Optionally, they can tell me something unique about themselves.  Halfway through the school student body, and so far there’s not been too much uniqueness going on here, but one boy actually put down Trot (your parent’s pop music).  In addition, I’ve taken a photo of each student to paste on the cards.  The third graders refused to cooperate because “I have no makeup today.” or “home page.  no!”  I couldn’t convince them that I would be the only one looking at these photos…But I mean, COME ON!  Out of 300 students, approximately 100 of them have Kim as a last name and they’re all wearing uniforms and 75% of the girls have the same hair-cut!  So some laughed as I joked about my plight, but the third-graders?  Don’t care.  Fortunately, those are small classes, (and I stole some candid shots) so it shouldn’t be too hard.  I know with my aging brain cells that memorization of all these names is futile, but I’m shooting for half, and at least it is reference…

Broadcasts WILL begin again next week, only we will be using the book I wrote last year.  It’ll be review for the previous students and new to the new students.  Saves the school money, saves the Korean teachers from having to translate some pages, and gives me another semester to finish the second book I’m writing.

Last semester I asked for night classes to get to know some students better to combat the loneliness here.  This year I want my nights free so I can try and draw and paint and work on TRACK stuff.  But the class got such good feedback that I’m being pressured into more more more.  And the last teacher never did anything like this for the five previous years…So I offered to teach a Club Activity every other Saturday to stop the pressure, but I really don’t want to do it as I’ve got enough prep work.  (maybe double what other English teachers in Korea have)  So we’ll see how many kids want to sign up for it, as Club Activities are the only fun things they get to do and do they want to sacrifice something else to take an activity by me only taught in English?  Only she’s selling it as English conversation, but I’d much rather do an actual activity – maybe something crafty…So we’ll see…hope interest is low and I don’t give up two Saturdays a month.  The extra pay is really not much and not worth it, though I suppose the good will is priceless.

Just sent off my story to the restaurant owner / Gangwon papers, so we’ll see how that goes as well.  I’d pretty much gotten real comfortable with reaching a dead end, but then I realized that I’m still living in Korea and it would be stupid to not find some alternative means to continue searching while here.  There are so many long-lived Koreans here all around me, and their memories may just be waiting to be activated, so I think the issue is needing more exposure.  People who must put the painful past behind them are not always scouring the earth for infrequent broadcasts, and despite being as publicized as an adoptee can be here, it’s still just like an explorer message to unknown lifeforms catapulted into space.  So I’ll keep doing stuff on the side when I can, but also won’t stress about it.


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