Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors

A few things hit me today. One, I'm living in Seoul. Like, not just Asia, or South Korea, but SEOUL. It's pretty amazing! I've never lived in a huge city; well, Houston I guess. It is big! But, it felt small. I compare Seoul to New York. I teach kids who are growing up in a city like this. It is absolutely massive. But, the culture, tradition, and homogeneous society all contribute to the distinctly different atmosphere of Seoul compared to a city like New York. I think each day my mind opens a little bit more, and a little bit more to the idea of what I am actually doing here.

Another thing that I realized, even just in a small way, is that I am the TEACHER. Obviously, I stand in front of the class and talk. But, I gave a test in my Leap High class today, and when I was grading their essays, the feeling that I get to decide how tough or lenient I am going to be! I get to make decisions in class. If we are running out of time, I get to choose which item to drop, or if I should assign extra homework. In my mind, it's not necessarily power, but authority. I'm not just controlling the classroom and making the kids do whatever I say. It is legitimately my position to make decisions, which ultimately affect my kids. I think this concept also has a lot of room for growth and development in my time as a teacher.

Today was a really good day. I am learning to love my job. I think I am relatively good at it; I mean, considering I had no formal education in this area and almost zero experience with kids. But, the days go by fast, I feel a great sense of accomplishment after each class (which I LOVE) and I am getting used to the courses and their requirements.

Before classes today, I had a lot of extra time to work. I had prepared for my day's classes, and still had almost 2 hours before my first one. So, Erin Teacher suggested that I work on my lesson plan for 2SAP. This class is my only everyday class, it's the most intense workload, and it's the curriculum that I have to work at the most. Each Unit, the lesson plan in the book must be adapted to our school's specific needs.

I share the class with Sean Teacher (he teaches another group of kids, but we are on the same material at the same time), so we take turns making the lesson plans and homework checklists each Unit. This month was my turn, so I used all my extra time during Office Hours to work on that. It's not needed for another week, but with the time I had I decided to just knock it out.

Erin Teacher walked me through a lot of it, but I also figured it out quickly. I really enjoyed it (despite it being a lot of work) because it required a high level of organization. The lesson plan for that class was something I was quite nervous about doing beforehand, but after I completed it and turned it in for approval from Jackie Teacher, I felt wonderful. Like a real teacher :)

It's too difficult to go into the details of what all I had to do to get this thing just right, but I'll tell you that I had to reference: the Teacher's Guide, the Writing Workbook, the Activity Book, the Student Book, the SLP Writing Workbook (different from the one above), book club workbook, book club storybook, SLP Practice book, and SLP Grammar Practice book. For ONE class... of 7 year olds. My mind cannot grasp the idea that these kids are so organized they actually know the difference in all these books. Most 7 year olds I know can't keep up with 1 book, let alone 9.

Anyway, I also had my 3SAP kids today (similar program as 2SAP, but only T/Th and slightly farther along than 2SAP). They are my best large class. I have 9 or 10 students, and they work as hard as my smaller classes, or sometimes even better. Today was awesome! They read when I asked them to, they all wanted to answer the questions, and almost all of them had memorized the Daily Oral Expression they had for homework.

One part of the lesson involved looking at a poem in their student books. They tried to get me to do some game similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors (which they endearingly called "Po-ta-to!" in the same intonation as R,P,S...) in order to determine the order of which they read aloud. I had no idea how that was supposed to work so I made them all sit down and just went in order down the rows (like any sane teacher would do). They read it through once, each student reading only 1 line. Then, again, with each student reading a paragraph. The poem was very rhyme-y and easy to memorize. It repeated a lot of phrases (the lesson was to understand alliterations...) so the kids got the hang of it quickly. I told them how song lyrics are poems too, so we put the poem to a tune and I got them all singing and participating. I loved it! They were all smiling and happy and learning, too!! Great sense of accomplishment. I also think this is the class that likes me the best. I really try to get animated and involved with them in the lesson. I hope it's working :)

Also, I forgot to mention that yesterday I had a little meeting with Jackie Teacher at the end of the day and she told me her observations from watching my classes. She said she was impressed with my organization and the presence I had in the class. The only real suggestion/criticism was to learn the kids' names. Well, I'm trying! I have 10 classes, many of which are larger with 10 or more students. I feel like I'm doing well, and have almost got all of them memorized. It just so happened that the classes she watched were the classes that I have a hard time memorizing the names of the kids. I think that my lack of having developed prior habits in the classroom (not having gotten an Edu degree or done any student teaching) has actually helped me. The school seems to be pretty set on how things should be done, and without any previous habits, I have none to break! :)

After classes, I graded LH exams. I didn't have much time for anything else, and went home at 9pm. I also got my official work badge! It has my name on it, too! :) I use it to clock in and out. After work, one of the morning teachers made everyone dinner and had a little get together at her apartment. I decided to attempt to be social, and went. It's kind of hard, because while everyone is nice, I don't feel like a connection with anyone. It also doesn't help that there is only one other female teacher in afternoons, so I don't get to know any of the morning teachers at work. I also have a semi-shy personality in that I don't operate well in groups of people I don't know well. I kind of stay quiet, don't want to draw any attention to myself. One-on-one, it's a whole other story! But, I don't know any of these girls in a way where I would feel comfortable. But, I went and stayed for like 30 minutes so it's a start. :)

One final observation: the days go by very quickly, especially once I am in the classroom. I love this! Maybe it's just that I enjoy what I do (for the most part), or it's having to do so much in such a short amount of time, but by 8pm I feel like the day flew by! Tomorrow is mid-week again, and I've got lots to do when I get there in the morning :) And with that, goodnight!

**update: doing some research on the rock, paper, scissors thing. I'm wondering if the kids weren't saying something in Korean, any my American ears just heard "po-ta-to"? I read online some say "kai-bai-bo" which I suppose could sound like "po-ta-to" to the untrained ear. with my students, who knows...**


  1. So glad to hear that you are actually enjoying your experience! And that's so great that the days go by quickly. :) It's pretty cool to hear what you are doing, and I do think they are learning. You'll be able to tell that at some point, I'm sure! Good on you, putting yourself out there and going to the "dinner!" If you need to, invite one of the teachers out "one-on-one!" You're doing great. Love you! - Mom -

  2. The Japanese use rock, paper, scissors to decide many things. Not just kids but adults too. I.ll ask Jay how the japanese say it. Universal Ernie-meanie- Minnie-mo!

  3. You are so beautiful Chelsea - inside and out. You are doing an amazing job! I LOVE hearing all about your experiences not only in Seoul, but with kids who seem to be interested in LEARNING. And you are a fantastic Chelsea Teacher. (I love it!)


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