Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monthly Exam Day

This week is proving to be a difficult one. The main reason is that today was the Monthly Exam for 5/6 of my classes. Monday I could only do so much, and Tuesday was basically even less. Beyond simply my day to day responsibilities, I couldn't get out ahead of the storm that came today. I'll explain what I mean...

When we give an exam, it has many parts. Written, Listening and Speaking are the norm, but some have Writing as well. During the test, we have to use about 15 minutes proctoring Listening, using the computer to play the tracks needed. After that is done, we have to use the remaining time (25 min or 45 min depending on the class) to do Speaking exams while the class is working on their Written test. This means that we pull students out into the hall one at a time and verbally ask them questions and write their responses and grade them. For classes more than 6-7, the teacher usually cannot get through all the students in one class. We usually have to get help. Even with help, it can be a lot. This also means that we cannot sit in the classroom and make the kids work continuously. So, that is the pressure of test day during class.

The majority of the stress actually comes later. Not only must we mark and score the exams, we have to write report cards. All you American teachers have this EASY. For EACH student, we must write a paragraph of at least 8-10 sentences about the student's work and progress. Well, that might be easy 2 times a semester, except our students' exams are monthly, so by the time we finish one round of report cards, another is looming only a week or two away.

So, today I had 5 classes with exams, (10 students + 5 students + 7 students + 9 students + 3 students). 34 exams to grade, each with between 3-5 sections to score. We must figure out averages immediately to submit for the newsletter, and write comments before we can print report cards. Before we can do either of those things, we are dependent on our Korean partner teacher for another score, Vocabulary. Finally, if any of the students are absent or need to retest (at least one in each class), you have to wait to input scores.

It is  HUGE balancing act and it is stressful! I actually stayed a little bit late tonight trying to get as many tests scored as possible, so tomorrow I can work on comments during my planning periods. In 4 classes, I had at least 1 student absent from each, and I already know of at least 1 retest. Ugh. I want to get as much of this done before Chuseok, because report cards are due THE DAY WE RETURN. I mean, seriously?!? How ridiculous. That gives us exactly 2 working days to get this stuff done.

To top it off, in one of my classes, 3 out of 5 students did not finish the exam during class. They will have to come in another time to finish. Well, I assumed that they would only need about 15-20 min to finish, since they had the entire class period to work today. So, I hand the unfinished exams to Jackie Teacher to look at (I had not seen them). I go back to furiously scoring exams, and Jackie says "Excuse me, Chelsea Teacher. I know you had to do speaking exams, but what did they do during your class? They need muuuch more than 20 minutes."

I'M SORRY, WHAT?!?!?!?! This school is ridiculous sometimes. She expects that, despite having to finish speaking exams, sitting in the HALLWAY, I should also be able to somehow telepathically force the students to concentrate? I specifically remember I stuck my head in OFTEN and told them to work. How is it my fault that they are not good students and would rather laugh and goof off than finish their work. I'm not superwoman, I can't magically make myself be in 2 places at once?!?

That comment got my blood boiling. Even now, I can feel my blood pressure going up. I vented to Michelle after we left, since she was sitting between us during the conversation, and heard the comment. I started getting heated, and she helped me out and reminded me that Jackie Teacher has no ability to judge rudeness. She told me to let it go, and now that I've properly vented here, I think I will actually try. I do have to work with her, after all.

Well, I stayed a little late and kept grading. I walked home alone, and it was kind of nice. I had gotten to feeling a little ill during my 2SAP class, and wanted to get some soup. I was keen on some chicken broth, but after searching the aisles of the small grocery store on my way home, I settled for some cream soup powder to mix with water. Hopefully it was just stress and needing to eat; I am feeling better now.

Oh, during my last class, the 3 boys, I knew they would finish the exam with extra time to spare, so I made copies of some worksheets for them to do. The first one to finish, Henry, blew through the first worksheet in about 5 minutes. I handed him another one; this one was writing, which I know Henry hates. It had a "strange" picture at the top, and the students were to write their own story based on the picture. Well, when he handed it back to me, he said "Funny story, teacher." I read it and started cracking up. By the end, I was in tears. It wasn't actually that funny, but my warped sense of humor just found it hilarious. I'm putting the photo so you can see how hard it can be to read these kids' writing, but I'll write it out too (complete with his notion of English grammar.)

I must preface this by saying, Henry asked what the thing was in the photo. I said "dinosaur!" and he pauses, thinks for a moment, then asks "teacher, big dog okay?" haha I said sure, it's your story! And here we go:

"She has big dog. She go to cinema. Police officer can't go in cinema, so dog eat police officer. So police officer die. She watch cinema. And go to market, dog eat everything and human. So market is die. She doesn't want this dog, so she killed her dog." (Henry made a note when I read it aloud, that she also ate the dog.)

She has a big dog (or dinosaur, you pick). She takes it to the movies. A police officer says they can't go in, so the dog eats the police officer. So police officer die. They watch the movie. Then they go to the market, but the dog eats everything, even the people! So the market is destroyed. She decides the dog is too vicious, so she kills the dog. (... and ate it.)

This is the mind of the children I teach...

Here is the other one, slightly less hilarious:

"She wents to home with rhino-saur. She's mother and father is shock, rhinosaur carry the her house in New Yourk. One of day, rhino saur break stove and regridgator. She is angry so, she killed and eat."

She brought home a rhinoceros. Her parents were shocked. The rhinoceros (?? I'm lost here...) carries the house to New York (maybe?). One day, the rhinoceros breaks the stove and refrigerator. She is angry, so she kills it and eats it.

At least my monotonous, stressful day was broken up by ridiculousness of my kids. It was great.

When I got home, I opened my door and realized someone had been in my apartment, the most likely culprit being my building manager. Apparently he checks in on the apartments occasionally. Too bad I had been waiting for some new bedding, and was sorely disappointed to find nothing new. I was thankful, too, that nothing was missing. What a creep...

When I opened my purse, I remembered I had had a pretty good morning! It had been such a long day, I had forgotten. I went to the post office before work, and mailed off a couple things. It was a fairly easy process, except that the envelopes were different, and to my frustration I couldn't figure out where to put the addresses. Finally someone showed me. For 1 standard envelope, 1 lightweight weight medium envelope, and one medium weight medium sized envelope, I paid about $8. Which is way cheaper than what I think it is to mail from the US to Korea. Hopefully it doesn't take too long. I'll be timing it.

The other thing I did before work was to stop by a store I have walked by every day going to work. It is clothing, and it looks like a small shop but the window displays I always look at are significantly better than everything else in my area. I rooted around the two sale racks outside, and surprisingly found a top I liked. I popped my head in the store and asked the price, which was 10,000W. She offered to let me try it on, so I did. It was flowy and perfect. I bought it! It is olive green with gold studs angled across the top 1/3 of the shirt. I love it!!!! It will go great with my blush pants, AND black pants. And the gold shoes that are on the top of my must-buy list. :)

Well, after making and eating my soup, and washing the dishes, I am exhausted. Like I said, I didn't feel 100% today, so I think I'm going to get to bed soon. Pray for me for the next 2 days with tons and tons of work I have to do... Can't wait for vacation, only 2 more work days!!!!!


  1. Wow! Lots of stuff happening for you! At least you aren't "alone" in your school and I'm so glad you got to talk that out with Michelle! :) (PS the top sounds great!) Hope you feel better tomorrow!

  2. Hey Chelsea. So fun to find you on here. I cannot believe you are in S Korea for a year. How amazing is that? I am looking forward to following you and staying on top of all your adventures. Enjoy every day out there. It will go by so quickly and it truly is an experience of a lifetime. How wonderful for you. Congrats!


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