Sunday, February 26, 2012

one term down!

so not only have i been in korea for over three months now, but i've completed my first term at my school! it feels good to have made it through without incident or too much stress. the new term will be a little bit different as far as the classes i'm teaching, but i'm feeling much more confident about the first day of the new term tomorrow than i was three months ago.

the past month has been relatively uneventful. the students take level-up exams in week ten of each term, and that was an interesting experience. extremely boring at times -- especially when they did the standardized test portion which basically meant i sat there for two and a half hours and just watched them take a test. one day of their exams consisted of speaking/listening/writing, which was actually a section i administered and graded. if you thought taking a speaking test in a foreign/second language was uncomfortable and no fun at all ever? imagine being the one giving the test. even some of my best and brightest totally froze up and just looked panicked when they couldn't think of what to say. i remember that feeling well from speaking tests in high school and college japanese classes, so i really felt for these kids as they sat at the other side of the desk.

this is how i kept myself entertained while the
students were taking the standardized exams.
while "proctoring," of course.

each term is thirteen weeks long, so the weeks following level-up exams were... less enjoyable than the ones preceding. in week twelve they actually received their level-up results, and at that point, convincing them to care about the last few lessons was, as one of my coworkers said, "like trying to shovel water." some classes were fine, just because we had a great rapport and the kids legitimately want to learn english. but those unmotivated students who kind of despised being in class anyway? it was rough.

this was taken a couple weeks ago, to illustrate
how i felt about teaching unmotivated students
post-level-up exams. so glad it's over. (for now.)

i'm really going to miss some of my classes -- i think almost all of my favorite students leveled-up into classes i won't be teaching next term. i can only hope that i'll have them again later on in the year. it will be really nice to have a fresh start with new students and classes, though. while i feel like my first term was pretty successful, i can definitely see little things here and there (particularly in areas like classroom management) that i should approach differently from the very first day. it's a learning curve. but i'm looking forward to walking into my classes tomorrow and being able to start over with a new group.

i could always adopt these rules one of my students made up.

speaking of my classes tomorrow, i'll be teaching a couple new levels this term. when i was trained, i was trained in memory english (which has three levels -- mega, giga, and tera), and then also in interactive reading/listening (which is higher than memory english and also has three levels -- bridge, par, and birdie). this past term i taught mega, giga, and par. next term i have mega, giga, bridge, and then a new level for me -- english chip. english chip actually falls below the memory english section in the hierarchy of levels at chungdahm, so i'm going to have some of the youngest/lowest english level kids our school teaches. i got a little bit of training in ec last week and i'm feeling pretty good about it -- since i've taught the level it feeds right into, memory english mega, i can see exactly why certain components of the curriculum exist. all of the levels really build on the skills learned previously, so as i'm exposed to more and more of these different levels, i'm finding it really helpful for my understanding of what's important for them to learn and why.

that's really all that's been going on lately. just working, putting a lot of energy into keeping burned out kids interested, and! decorating my apartment. people have been moving out lately so i've been scavenging a little bit -- picked up a couch, little cafe table and chair, and two frames that previously had canvas stretched across them. so i've been having a lot of cheap, crafty fun lately, and i promise an actual blog post about my apartment will be coming in the next month or so.

but despite the relatively boring day-to-day schedule i've fallen into lately, i've been able to spend the past few weekends in seoul, seeing friends, doing some shopping, and just hanging out. the weather is fiiiinally starting to warm up. it's been creeping above 40 almost every single day this past week! haha. i can't wait for it to be warm. there's so much that i want to do and see outside! definitely going to go crazy with taking photos and hiking and exploring as soon as i can. (maybe even as early as next weekend... it looks like we might be getting above 50 next week!)

i promise to be better with the updating. i fell behind because i just felt like nothing interesting was happening. but now that the term has ended, i felt like it needed a recap of sorts.

is there anything in particular i should talk more about? leave me a comment. let me know. and thank you to everyone who persistently reminded me to update my blog. you're all awesome. (though seriously, i promise it'll be much more frequent once i can come out of hibernation mode and i start to see more of this country.) until next time! :)