"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." - Saint Augustine

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First Week Teaching

Monday (September 13th) started my first day teaching in my school’s after school English program. Previous to this I had taught English my first week in 5th grade and second week in 6th grade during the school day. I had such a positive experience with the 5th and 6th graders and found it very easily to relate to them and their sense of humor. We were laughing a lot and it kept them all focused and interested in what we were doing. Since I taught each grade for only a week I was focusing on introducing myself, letting them choose their English names, playing some name games, and finding out more about them. All of the activities I planned served as a great assessment tool in finding out where my students were at and what interests them.

If I had to choose a few words to describe my first week teaching I think I'd choose whirlwind, reflective, frustrating,  and exciting. I learned a lot about being a "Reflective Practitioner" (I wrote a huge paper on it too!) while taking my Social Foundations class at Eastern, but now I know what this feels like while actually teaching! This first week was exciting during all the activities and experiences that the students and I were enjoying and learning from. 

I had one day in particular that was frustrating and that was the day that I started out with the class full of  first graders that were climbing all over the bookcases and desks when I got into the classroom. They couldn't understand a lot of what I was saying and I managed to only get through attendance and a short name game since all their names were written in Hanguel and I had to go around one by one comparing their name tag to the class roster. I honestly felt strange telling them what their English name was since they didn't understand what was going on. With my other classes I would write a long list of names on the board and see if they had any names to contribute to the list. 

While teaching my second graders a couple kids gave me the middle finger and used some curse words at me. I looked at my own middle finger with a confused expression and then looked back at them and said, "Mollayoh" which means "I don't know". They looked at me confused, put their hands down, and then walked away. They clearly had no idea what this meant and I'm thinking they wanted to see how I would react to these gestures. I think I responded in the right way because I didn't make a big deal out of it and soon enough if people continue to not react to those gestures they will get bored with it and stop. If it becomes too big of a deal I will have to talk to them about it. 

Everyone’s teaching experiences are so diverse here in Korea. I find myself fortunate in being in contact with so many different scholars, and similar to America, there is so much diversity among school resources and student populations. I keep thinking about how I wish I had certain things such as more trade books in English that I could read to my students everyday. I’d love to teach through books so I’m planning on borrowing some books from Katie’s school. She was blessed with a plethora of resources! As for student population I have the largest number of students in my school out of all the scholars I’ve talked to. My school has just under 700 students ranging from Kindergarten through 6th grade. I know many scholars who have just 50-100 students at their school. Of course there are many pros and cons when comparing the larger and smaller schools. It sure would be nice to have only 5-10 students per English class instead of my 20-30! Oh well, bring on the challenge!

I’m not surprised that this first week of teaching all 6 grades  (1st through 6th) has kept me at school much later than the first two weeks did. I have daily and monthly lesson plan forms that I’m required to fill out and I spent quite some time tweaking these since there was a lot of unnecessary information and now they actually made sense for me. My mentor teacher just asked me to do a monthly plan as well, which is not something the previous scholar at my school had to do. Since my English class is now one of the 28 after school classes offered at my school I am required to turn in forms for each grade planning out what I have to teach for the next month. I found out though that this doesn’t have to be a set in stone plan- thankfully. I’m not about to assume what my students do/do not know and attempt to plan what I’m going to teach them in a month from now! Talk about inappropriate! 

Being introduced as the new English teacher at my school's Opening Ceremony.

Bowing heads during Korea's song.

With some of my 6th grade girls during my second week teaching.

Yep, these are the girls that were so amazed with my hair that they were picking
hairs off my cardigan and saying "Gold hair!" It was funny!

School election posters.

Outside of the school with a few 1st graders.
An example of what I eat for lunch everyday!
During the "What do you like?" game this boy said , "I like bel tee."
After some questioning and little demonstrating I found out this means "ding dong ditch".  
The kids are so creative when they make their name tags!
Some even put their name in Korean/Hanguel as well. :)
With the 6th grade boys.

The second day of class I asked the 5th graders, "What do you remember about me?"  
Pretty impressive list! This girl was looking at her shirt to help her spell "America". :)

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