Yesterday was jam-packed. I got up at around…oh..5am due to jetlag, then finally around 9:30 one of the teachers kindly met me at the motel to walk me to school.
Once there, I was given an observation schedule, basically watching classes all day. In the morning I watched my soon-to-be kindergarten class. They were a little crazy, but I think it might have been the cake and cookie overload. Either way, I was happy to find even the kindergarteners are at a fairly high level of English and can understand almost all basic instructions. These kids are SMART. Most of the wiggling and misbehavior seemed to be from sitting and writing for WAAYY to long. And that seems to be the trend for many of these students. Kids ages 5 to 9 are supposed to just sit there and focus, for hours on end, and write, read, or do worksheets. It’s totally insane. But the truth is, this is not the type of situation where I can question the system, so I think I’ll just have to develop some strategies to liven up the work and keep them focused. It’ll definitely be a challenge.
I think the craziest part of the whole operation is how much the teacher’s are responsible for besides just the content. They have to grade homework IN class, make sure the kids have all the right books, folders, cds, take attendance, follow this sticker system and record the results, make tests, grade tests, administer presentations…the list continues. You’re supposed to follow these guidelines to a T or fear the wrath of angry Korean moms. They pay big money for this stuff and they check to see if the homework is being corrected properly. Ay Dios Mio. One day at a time, right?
At lunch, I went out with the teachers for some bibimbap and kimbap (once again, everything I eat tastes like a delicious pickly spicy heaven ..if nothing else, the food will get me through this year). Then it was back to school for more observing and two 45 minute long orientation with my advisors that basically consisted of giving me large piles of books and schedules for my classes that at this point still look like hyroglyphs. By 6:30, I was exhausted, overhwlemed, and wanting to hide in a cave, but the teachers were going out for dinner, and I couldn’t pass up. Plus, bonding is important. We went to Green Galbi and had some dynamite korean barbecue (The grill is in the middle of the table. You just throw on the marinated meat strips, pull it off when done, and wrap it in some lettuce leafs, kimchi, hot sauce and nom nom nom).
Afterwards the teachers got ready to go to a bar, and I decided to follow, despite wearing my dumpy-ist teacher garb and needing a shower.
We took the bus and the subway to a distinctly foreigner bar. I mean, there was hardly a Korean in sight. It was a fun way to meet other teachers in the area and relax after a stressful day. I even got a bullseye (Booyah!) playing darts which I am taking as a good omen. For what, not sure. Maybe just avoiding disaster teaching Monday.