Today was my first "real" teaching day. Up until now, I've been shadowing and trying to learn everything about all my classes while watching Maggie Teacher run around like a crazy person. I've been taking notes every day, but I still feel like I've missed so much information. Around 6pm every day, it took a lot of effort to keep my brain powered on. Sometimes information would do the in-one-ear-out-the-other trick. I frequently asked Maggie Teacher to repeat what she said. There is so much to learn!
But, today was day 1. I am officially "Chelsea Teacher" to about 100 Korean kids. Since today was Thursday, I was actually meeting my classes for the first time. Three of the classes had exams, and another had a "pop" exam from Jackie Teacher (will get to this later...) I guess I'll go in order.
First block, I have free. I don't know how I managed this, but I am not complaining! It's only T/Th that I have this luxury, but I'm pleased. I prepped before class, making sure I had everything for the exams, and was prepared for the other classes. Maggie came in for a couple hours to finish up her paperwork, and helped me get ready.
Second block (my first class) was New Hi Kids and they had an exam. Since the class was large, about 10 students. The exam has 3 parts: Listening, Reading, and Speaking. Listening is done as a class, everyone listening to the computer read out the questions, and the kids marking in their test booklet. Reading is straightforward, normal test procedure. And Speaking involves the students coming into the hallway one at a time with the teacher to orally answer questions. Being a large class, I had to get some help. I did Speaking exams while Michelle Teacher also did some, and Phoebe Teacher watched the class. It was a bit overwhelming! We finally finished, and moved on to the next class, which was also New Hi Kids, but there were only 2 students in that class. Same procedure.
Third class was my 2SAP kids, 4 little girls whom I see every day, and they had a test AND a quiz as well. The girls are so sweet and cute, but they are talkative and have so much energy! We got through listening, and I began speaking. I sat by the door window to keep an eye on them while doing speaking with the individual students in the hallway. These students have more work and higher standards. They have to verbally answer questions, sight-read a paragraph, and recite a memorized summary of the book we've been reading.
By the time we finished the exam and the speaking, they could only finish part of their Word Quiz. We will have to finish that up tomorrow. Like I said, the girls are precious and dead smart, but hyperactive and I think one may have a touch of ADD.
My fourth class was 3SAP (similar to 2SAP but much larger class of 10 students and I only see 2 days per week). We were already 2 days behind; one day was taken up from a speaking contest last week, and the typhoon day put the class even more behind. Today was supposed to be those 2 days combined, and next class have another 2 days crammed to be fully caught up. Well, the best laid plans... 3 minutes before class, Jackie Teacher tells me we will be having an unplanned placement exam. It should "only" take about 20-25 minutes. Awesome... But, gotta go with it! So, we give the exam which ends up taking 35 minutes, and barely get through 1 days worth of work, and still had to assign extra homework. :( Poor kids... Jackie Teacher and I went over the lesson plans and decided we should rewrite them tomorrow. It was a bit overwhelming. Not only am I new to teaching, I've never had this class before, and now I'm having to modify what was already planned. Stress!!
My last class was the only class of the day without an exam. *Phew!* We did "Reading Engine" which was basically reading an article and doing a ton of questions together. One students didn't have her book, and protocol is to make copies of another student's book for her to work on. Since it was my first day with these kids and I've already gotten so behind in my last class, AND I'm also behind in this class, I decide to skip taking 5 minutes to make the girl copies. I tell her to read along with her neighbor, write down her answers, and copy them into her book when she gets home. I hope I don't get in trouble for this, but I wouldn't have gotten through all the material if I had taken the time to leave the classroom.
That last class also had a problem child. In Korea, it is very rude to eat or drink in class. Extremely disrespectful. So, kids are not allowed to have snacks, water, or candies during class. Well, when I walked in they were still snacking from Break. I told them to put everything up, and 5 minutes later I see Alicia just munching away. I tell her again to put it up. We do some more work and then I see her get some candy out of her bag. I tell her "Alicia, put the candy away. If I see it out one more time, we will go in the hall and have a discussion." Side note: apparently being pulled out of class for bad behavior is super embarrassing. She finally put it up, but I can tell she's going to be a handful.
After classes, we had an hour to work on things before we could leave. I graded a lot of my tests, but still wasn't done by 9 o'clock. I will have a few hours of prep tomorrow to work on them, and I feel moderately prepared for tomorrow's classes. I really can't wait to get the hang of the classes, I feel so flustered!
On a slightly different note, okay, a totally different note: this morning I had a minor meltdown. Staying in the motel is really hard, not just because it is gross as hell, but there is NO way to cook or reheat anything. I have no stove, no oven, no microwave. Nothing! So, I must eat out. Well, no one has explained anything to me. I know of 2 restaurants and I don't really like either. Breakfast is hard, because there is only bakeries around me. So, I've been having rolls and pastries every morning. They are good, but when all you eat the rest of the day is the rice that the school makes and maybe some crackers, it is not too great. I never thought I'd say "I'm so sick of all carbs!"
So, this morning I set out on yet another attempt to find some semblance of a hot breakfast. Of course, nothing. Plus, it's raining cats and dogs. I get home and talk to mom. And I completely lose it. I am so frustrated by the situation! I don't know what the signs mean, so I'm too scared to go in places. They don't speak English, only half have pictures of the food, and even then I dont actually know what goes in it! I am scared to ask the other teachers where to go, for fear of looking like the princess of the group.
My mom, of course, wants to try to help me fix it so she's telling me to ask the teachers or go to this neighborhood or that place. Well, obviously I've thought of those things before and they don't work! So, I'm frustrated and so hungry it hurts. I hang up and call Michael; by this time it's certifiably sobbing. He gets me to calm down eventually, and I decide to go to the Lotteria in my neighborhood (remember Lotteria, McDonald's ripoff from this weekend?). I mean, it's not very good and it's greasy, but I can get protein in the form of chicken strips. So that's something!
Well, then I get to work and see that in addition to the rice, the lunch lady made some kind of marinated pork. My Korean friend, Michelle, told me to try it. I got some, and with the hot rice on it, it heated up (for some reason, Koreans like a lot of weird things served cold... I'm confused but it seems to be the case...), and it was actually good! I had a whole bowl. I was so proud of myself for trying something new and actually liking it!
By the time school was over, I was hungry again (my stomach is being so greedy now that it's actually getting some nutrition!). I asked Michelle would she mind maybe showing me some places in the area to eat, or what common signs on restaurants mean. She was so sweet and agreed. But, we wouldn't be able to meet until next week, because of timing conflicts. I was just very happy I asked and she didn't think I was some crazy white girl.
On the way home from work, I mentioned to Erin that I'd like to know where restaurants in our area were, and what they served. I mentioned that I kind of liked the kimbap the school served on Friday (I mean, not really, but I forced it down.) She said, "Oh! Yea, there's a kimbap place right next to us! I'll show you!" I could hear the heavens singing Hallelujah!! She took me on the way home, and I got a kimbap roll. It was the equivalent of a little over $1! **The server is down or I would be adding photos of my kimbap :) will add soon!**
Kimbap looks similar to sushi rolls, but it does not have any fish! Usually they have tofu or ham (or both) plus some veggies and other bits and bobs. I honestly don't know what all was in mine, but I picked out the large yellowish blob because I didn't care for the texture. It was hard like a carrot.
I just think it's so amazing that when I get so down about something here, God really looks out for me. I knew this trip would be good for me, help to grow. But I didn't realize the lessons would be so quick. I know God doesn't always give us exactly what we want when we want it, but He provides! I was so hungry this morning, I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayers. It wasn't BBQ or mac and cheese, but it was food I could eat, and my stomach doesn't hate me anymore (or at least quite so much...)
One more amazing thing before I end this one... Michelle, my Korean friend, is awesome. Uploading a photo of her wall post to me today. I love her! I can't wait to be better friends with her. Hehehe!