Thursday, September 17, 2009

Everything has been so busy lately, it's been tough to find even a few minutes to blog and email. Every spare minute at school is occupied by correcting spelling tests, grading essays, or writing weekly kindergarten reports...not to mention the prep for each class. I know that Darren gets a lot of satisfaction out of me saying, "teaching is a lot of work!" and "I'm so tired by the end of the day!" :) And I can't deny's very exhausting. My voice is spent and my brain is exhausted from constantly trying to account for every little detail in the classroom. I also have to snap out of "ESL teacher mode," in which I over-annuniciate and slowlllllyyyy dictate every single word, to overcome the language barrier with my students.
I've also been feeling a bit more pressure at school lately...I'm at the point (almost six weeks in) where the students' progress is beginning to show, and parents' feedback is starting to roll in. This feedback has been both positive and negative- I know that a few of my kindergarteners have really improved their interest, motivation, and focus in the past six weeks with me. It is difficult to refrain from ranting about the other parents- those who are very overbearing and overly-concerned with their child's work...they can make it very difficult to stay confident in my abilities to teach and guide their children.

However, my elementary classes have suddenly begun to make a turn for the better this week...I actually felt in control, effective, and in-tune with my students this week! There are still some behavioral problems...I hadn't initially thought that behavior managment would even be an issue, after hearing so many stories of strict Korean schools...and just knowing that each class would have a maximum of only 10 students! But I think that the students feel so much pressure from their Korean teachers, their parents, and their classmates, that English school with us is their only time to let their guard down and actually act like a kid. I can't believe the schedules of some of my students...Korean school, homework time at home, English school, Taekwando, piano lessons, math tutor, science tutor, computer school...some of my 2nd grade students have school and tutors until 10 pm every night! (and then more tutoring on Saturdays). It's no wonder they have trouble concentrating and listening to me every afternoon!

Looking forward to this weekend- joining London, her boyfriend (who teaches in Pohang, near Busan, in southeastern Korea), and a few of his co-teachers for a little trip to the Taebaek Mountains. This region is supposed to be pretty undeveloped, compared to the rest of South Korea, and have beautiful terrain- forests, mountains (obviously), rivers, and GREEN space (a rare, rare commodity in South Korea!). Even if we just get one afternoon of hiking in- I'll be so happy! I miss nature...the concrete, sewage stream, and endless high-rises are already getting a bit old.

Pictures here: Bibimbap, a traditional Korean mixed rice bowl...and some type of dumpling soup from a really great sushi place near school (Dad- you would love it- I'll take you there when you come!)

Video: just a quick hello to a few of my kinders!

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