Sunday, February 9, 2014

Doam Elementary and the New School Year

The last day of second semester is this Friday, February 14th. Spring Break is from February 17th until February 28th. March 3rd starts the new school year and brand new semester.

Yes, we just got back from Winter Break on February 3rd. I don't understand the scheduling but it seems that it's standard throughout the Korean school system. I'm actually pretty relieved because with vacation and everything, winter break just flew by. I'm happy for the extra two weeks to lesson plan. 

I'm optimistic for the new year -- I have a better grasp, however small, on what I need to do and how to do it. The past week with my former and first co-teacher has been absolutely terrific. I forgot how much I missed her; she has a system that I can better see now that I'm not brand new to Korea. As much as I'd love for her to stay, I'm rooting for her to get the job in Seoul because that's where she lives. With a four month old baby, a husband, and the new responsibilities of motherhood, Moonee is super hero, literally a super hero, for all the work and patience she's had at school. Having kids changes you, and she's exhausted and her mind has to be going a million miles a minute; yet, she still takes the time to discuss the lessons and what's going to happen for me teaching wise next year. She makes me feel like I'm doing a good job, which, honestly, I haven't always felt. 

Next year, I will be teaching 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. There will be two classes of each grade; therefore, I won't be teaching 1st or 2nd grade because my contract allows for a maximum of 22 teaching hours. However, I got convinced into teaching 6 additional classes a week, to the horror of my friends. 

We were enjoying some Vietnamese food when we started talking about work, as does happen. I know that six extra classes a week is a lot. I've been in negotiations, through my co-teacher, with the school for the past week. Originally, I thought I would have these extra classes on top of teaching extra 1st and 2nd grade classes, which would have been too much. But what convinced me to agree to teaching the extra classes was the number of students I will have per class - an average of 7 students - and the extra money - 600,000 won (roughly 600.00 USD). 

The class size is pretty incredible, compared to my usual 30-40 students, and apparently the students I will have are the ones that want to learn more English. I'm just thinking, "Man, what I'll be able to do!" The month of March will be a trial run to see if this can work. I'm a little skeptical but also encouraged by the challenge. I've always worked better with an overloaded plate than one with not enough food. And why did I come to Korea? To travel, yes, to experience the culture, yes, and to teach. It may not be my forte, but do it with passion or not at all. The key for me has been my students. They are good kids, even the naughtiest of them. And I'm not making them better at English per se, but I'm exposing them to how English sounds and am an outlet for them to conjure up what English they do know to make a conversation and ask questions. It's fulfilling to be part of that. 

You may bear blogging witness to a complete train wreck. Mondays and Thursdays, I will teach seven classes. Gosh, that looks even worse in writing. But if that does happen, I'll lick my wounds with the extra money I'll earn on top of my salary for the month of March. That's a huge chunk of money that will get me closer to paying off my student loans. The extra work and time is doable with the two weeks of planning time I have during Spring Break. And the small class sizes has me thinking of incorporating some of the children's books I brought with me into some story lessons. 

I may have made a huge mistake. Only March will tell. 

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