Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 2: Badger Blogging Blitz

[Badger Blogging Blitz (BBB) 2014: Ashley ...meanwhile in Korea...Vicky Outside the PyxisMaggie The Traveling FlamingoDrew The Hungry PartierRebecca Rebe with a Clause]

Today is Tuesday, March 25th. The weather today is overcast and warm (high 66, low 46 degrees Fahrenheit). I woke up feeling rested; I slept like a rock, the perks of a previously long day. 

Daily Recap
No lights and a cloudy morning, the hallways were so dark! Today was great class-wise, plus there were oranges in the teacher's room for snack. I was disappointed to find out that I was assigned more after school classes for April, even though I thought I had only agreed to teach extra classes for March. Lost in translation. 

5:45AM: Alarm clock goes off.  NPR's hourly newscast and I check my email and social media. Peanut butter and jelly toast with black pepper chai tea (water boiled in sixty seconds with my electric tea pot) for breakfast. The scratchy toast and steaming hot tea feels good on my throat. I make some microwave eggs but end up saving them in a tubberware for dinner perhaps.

6:40AM: Walk to school. It is a listen to "High School Musical" kind of gray morning. Zac Efron gets it.

7:40AM: Arrive at Doam Elementary. Change into my indoor shoes and head upstairs. Boot up the computers, etc. I make some adjustments on my "Day 0 BBB" post; while typed from my iPad mini is great, there are always formatting issues. Then, I head downstairs to make copies for the 6th Grade Writing Stations activity. I grab some coffee while I wait for the 42 copies to come through.
8:07AM: My co-teacher SK is super early today. I run though and prep the day's PPT's and activities, waiting twenty minutes or so, before talking things over with her.
8:45AM: Three of the 5-1 boys race into the room, fifteen minutes early. They crowd around my desk and saying, "Hi, hello." They point at and pick up things off my desk and chatter away. I ask them how they're doing and I tell one of the boys I like his shirt (skull with bedazzled sun glasses). The rest of the class comes piling into the classroom when one of the boys notices that I'm chewing gum. "Teacher, American gum?!" I nod and repeat, "Yes, American gum." And I wouldn't normally give them any candy (kids get greedy) but I know American gum is quite different from Korean - so I decide to. One of the girls sees what's happening and starts scolding the boys in Korean and saying, "Teacher, no, no." I say that it's okay and offer her a piece but she says no thanks. She turns away and comes back to give me a piece of her own candy. So sweet, she knows how pushy her classmates get for candy. But I think they understood it was a special treat.  
9:00-9:40AM: 5-1 Class (Lesson 2-1: Intro). "What's your favorite class? My favorite class is P.E. How about playing basketball? That's a good idea!" The fifth graders are such a joy to teach. Last year, they were one huge 4th Grade class and still they were the best class as far as getting the most out of the lessons, activities, and games. They really love English and I dunno if it's just their combined personalities or thanks to last year's fourth grade teacher, but they have an inspiring classroom dynamic. Today, we start Lesson 2: My Favorite Class is Science. SK hands out the "New Vocab and Phrases" sheets and the Intro PPT goes well (they guess the new vocab very quickly and enjoy answering, "My favorite class is [insert picture]."). The Guess the Picture game goes better than I thought, again testament to how great they are as a class. I tell them to raise their hands if they have a guess! As we go through the game, I rapid-fire point to everyone who raises their hands. It is a good review. My co SK has instigated a "password" requirement to leave the classroom. The 5th graders have to answer the question, "What is your favorite subject?" to get through the door. 
9:50-10:30AM: 5-2 Class (Lesson 2-1: Intro). My student friend from the bus ride yesterday is in this class and she runs up to me and asks to see my glasses. She puts them on and we both act like blind cats. She teaches me a clapping game -- I can't think of the name but it's playground patty cake. She's a pro at being able to communicate. The Intro PPT and Guess the Picture game go equally as well in this class. P.E. is by far the favorite class of most of the students and SK has to ask me for the word "dodgeball." It's a popular game here, too, to my grade school horror. 
10:40-11:20AM: 6-1 Class (Lesson 2-2: Key Expression/Phrase Practice). "Hi is Ted there? Speaking, Who's calling, please? This is Yuri. How do you spell it?" We are maybe twenty minutes into the lesson when one Doam staff and a man I didn't recognize come into the classroom. They stand in the front, speak in Korean, and soon all of the boys in the class excitedly jump from their seats and run out the door. SK walks over to me and says, "I don't know what to call this in English... a pee test?" I'm surprised, "A drug test?!" And she says, "Oh, no for their health..." The girls soon follow, and SK assures me she had told them to wash their hands. They race back in and we finish an abbreviated version of the book lesson before doing the Writing Station Activity. We only have enough time for each team to complete one station (each station had a different task, such as unscramble the words to make a sentence or translate this Korean word into English and write it three times, etc.). It's a writing intense activity, which isn't the easiest, but they like the challenge I think. 
11:30AM-12:10PM: 6-2 Class (Lesson 2-2: Key Expression/Phrase Practice). No bodily fluid tests in this class. The book lesson goes well -- there is a Rap Box: key phrases worked into a bouncin' beat. One line, "How do you spell it? / F-A-C-T-O-R-Y F-A-C-T-O-R-Y, " the students absolutely, sarcastically get in to. Good times. Writing Station activity goes smoothly. The "password" to leave for 6th Grade includes saying one of the three main phrases, "Hi. Is Yuri there? / Speaking. Who's calling, please? / How do you spell it?"  
12:10-12:30PM: Lunch. Nothing too out of the fabulous that is lunchtime. I loooooove lunch. 

12:30-1:00PM: To the bank across the street from Doam, to pay my phone bill. Billing in Korea is nifty because a lot of the time one is able to use an ATM to transfer funds. For my public bills (cable, Internet, water, and electric), there is a special ATM-like machine inside the bank that eats my paper bill and deducts money from my account. It's a really convenient service and a really convenient walk across the road. I take the long way back to the English room, circling around the school grounds. One of the fifth grade boys finds me and says, "American gum!" as he put the piece of gum I had given him in his mouth. The sun peaks out; gorgeous afternoon with kids running and playing. 

1:00-3:30PM: I make my way to the Administrative Office to ask for my February pay stub. The usual accounting staff isn't there, but I simply say, "I was wondering if I could have my February pay stub, please? My salary, money, money, money, money," with a hand gesture with each "money," signaling subtraction. She understands, prints it off, and explains pretty well what each deduction is for in English-Korean. The rest of the time I'm working on lesson plans for Doji. 
3:30-4:30PM: SK stands up from her desk and says, "Let's go eat, Abby." Oranges in the teacher's room. SK's dad had sent them to the school, and these oranges are the best oranges I've ever eaten. There are also strawberries. Feeling nourished, I head back up the English room and SK is about five minutes behind me when she tells me about the after school classes. Like I said, I was disappointed, but I should've been point-blank with the new 1st grade teacher. Easier said than done because she's one of the most senior teachers at the school, yet it's in my contracted rights to say no. Why don't I fight this? Because I know that I can do it and I have a good time with my after school students. 
4:30-4:50PM: Bus ride home. I eat the snack two of my students gave me earlier. It's like baked ramen noodles with little sugar pearls. Tasty. 

5:00-5:40PM: To the post office to mail some letters and back home. Two boys are riding their bikes with training wheels through the market area. One momentarily forgets how to brake and rides right into the backside of this older man. The boy falls over, the man, still standing, turns his head and the two of them just stare at each other for a minute before the boy picks himself up and the man brushes the dirt off his pants. "Hooligans," he must've been thinking. 

Daily Questions:

1. How does your school experience at the age of your students compare to that of your Korean students?

The students at Doam have chores. They sweep, swifter, and vacuum the classrooms and hallways. Two of the 5th graders are assigned the English classroom and they come in every day after lunch. Now, the school isn't getting terribly clean having a bunch of elementary kids running along with brooms and company, but it's a nice thought - the responsibility - and it's fun to witness. 

I was the only one in my first grade class to have glasses. At Doam, roughly half of the kids in a given grade sport some of the coolest spectacles I've ever seen. Also, pencil cases. Holy cow, do my students have the most elaborate pencil cases. If they aren't a cute, huggable stuffed animal with a zipper, they're in the shape of a plush milk carton. If they don't have four pull out drawers, a magnetic lid, and attached mirror, they have a chalkboard top, the cutest little erasers, and mini pieces of chalk. These pencil cases are intense. 

I vaguely remember taking a special Spanish class when I was in fourth grade. But my elementary school experience definitely did not involve the kind of foreign language instruction my students are getting. My elementary school didn't have dual language posters in the hallways or dual language classroom signs. For example, the 5-2 classroom is the "Forgiving Class." The main entrance to Doam was just remodeled and hanging above the trophy cases and plaques are the words, "History of Doam," in English. The principal checked with me to make sure the English was correct. Both my current co-teachers spoke about communication and the fact that the world is a big place on the first day of class -- my elementary school days weren't as submerged into another language as my students' days are. 

2. If you had the opportunity to change 5 things at your school, what would they be and why?

I will refer to my primary school Doam Elementary for these questions! I've only worked four days at my second school Doji Elementary -- a bit too new to make even theoretical changes there. 

1. Bulletin boards in the English classroom -- I want to hang up student artwork and projects we complete in my classes! Taping art directly to the walls pains me because it goes against my whole being, so I sometimes have the kids do it. They love this; competitions to see who can tape their's the highest commence (which sort of defeats my qualms about "respecting the artwork" but you know). The other classrooms have a whole wall of bulletin boards; green goblin face.

2. Printer and laminator for the English classroom -- Printer and laminator, oh the things I would do to you. We have to print things off in the teacher's room this semester, which is whatever fine. The other teachers told my co-teacher SK that she should ask the principal for a printer. When she translated for me, I said, "Good luck!" She and I and the teachers chuckled. It's not likely to happen even if SK should ask. So, might as well throw an English room laminator onto the list. 

3. School clubs -- Before I came to Korea, I heard that school clubs would be a good opportunity to get to know the other teachers and students, but my school doesn't have any. I think I would like the more informal setting with a theme, which would possibly make casual conversation easier because there'd be a given topic at hand.

4. Another "Sports Days" -- Most of my students will say that their favorite class is P.E., and as far as I know, Doam doesn't have scheduled recesses. Lunchtime is designated free time to play outside if they choose (which is why they eat so quickly), and some of the best interactions I have with my students happen during this time, along with run-ins in the hallways and between classes. Sports Day was an entire school day spent outside having running races with odd Korean twists, playing kooky, competitive games, and hanging out with the students and staff. Needless to say, it was just a lot of fun. 

5. Talent show -- I so want Doam to have a talent show. I have found that my students, in general, love to perform. They love getting up in front of the class and acting out goofy English role plays. They love serenading each other with "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?"  and dancing along with their favorite k-pop music videos. The school orchestra/band wields some of the best elementary school musicians I've ever heard and known. The Doam kids have some serious, raw talent and an eagerness and enthusiasm unmatched for performing. I am dying to know what kind of acts they would put together.

Fabrics of My Day

Badger Blogging Blitz (BBB) 2014:
Ashley Wendorf: ...meanwhile in Korea...
Vicky Lee: Outside the Pyxis
Maggie Flamingo: The Traveling Flamingo
Drew Binsky: The Hungry Partier

1 comment:

  1. Lots of thoughs/reactions while reading:
    - I really like your co-teacher's password requirement! Last week with the new 3rd graders my co-teacher had both of us stand back at the door after class and say "Nice to meet you" (after glancing at their open textbook to make sure we hadn't missed anyone when circling/checking work during class), to which they had to reply "Nice to meet you, too" in order to leave. I liked it!
    - That pee test for health was so random! Haven't had that happen to me yet
    - So nice that you can leave school after lunch to do your banking! My bank book is on the last page, so I need a new one to print out my transactions, but there aren't any holidays (when banks would still be open) for another two months. Maybe my new co-teacher will have a different policy than my last, which was that even though the bank is really close to the school I would need to use vacation time and go get signatures from head teacher, VP, and Principal to leave -- not worth that effort in my book (I hate knocking on the Principal's door -- so scary!)
    - I should really ask to see a pay stub, haven't yet.
    - Extra classes noooo! Is it for April or the rest of the school year? You'll be making a nice chunk of change! Yeah, even though we have the right to say no, I think culturally Korean teachers do whatever's ordered of them by higher ups, so if you want to stick to cultural norms it's almost like you must say yes (which is why I didn't put up a fight when 5 daycare classes became 6. I'm used to it already.).

    Everyone's answers to the day's questions focus on different aspects - I love it! Yes, the glasses - huge difference! And cute pencil cases, how could I forget? A talent show would be really fun to watch. I think my school will have a sports day in May on Laborer's Day -- so the one day I don't have to come to school, but I'll probably go anyway to see the event.

    Great post! Sorry for my ridiculously long comment! On to Day 3!