Sunday, January 4, 2015

Blog Carnival: Teaching & Travel Resolutions for the New Year

Happy New Year! I am excited for this new opportunity to write a monthly post sharing my thoughts about teaching and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) from my time as an ESL teacher in the Republic of Korea.

Reach to Teach (RTT) Teach Abroad:
The REACH TO TEACH | TEACH ABROAD BLOG is blog written, shared, and collaborated on by bloggers around the globe who are also teachers. Teachers who are also travelers and who have taught English as a Second Language in a wide range of countries. I am starting the new year blogging along with them, answering questions about my experiences teaching and traveling, offering my insights, advice, suggestions, stories, and opinions in the RTT Teach Abroad Blog Carnival.

The Blog Carnival:
Each month, a blogger-teacher-traveler hosts and asks a question, which is voluntarily answered by interested bloggers. Published by the fifth of each month by the host on their blog, the Blog Carnival focuses on advice and helpful tips for ESL teachers. If you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please do contact Dean at 

January 2015 - Carissa Peck:
Carissa Peck of MELTING ACTIVITIES asks:
Since the blog will be posted in early January, the topic is timely. You've taught for all of (or part of 2014)! Maybe you have a new class, or are in a new country. Now that 2015 is rolling around what's the resolution that you will make for your teach year of teaching (or traveling)?


My Basic Teaching Resolutions:
  1. Nurture abilities, interests, and likes. Become an expert (Google that stuff) and become a mentor for their interests.
  2. Be patient and allow for growth through trial and error and struggle. It is easy to take over a learning experience “Here, let me do that” with my own knowledge and education, especially when I am in a hurry. Fresh perspective is magnificent and is how the world progresses.  
  3. Get better at asking - by asking more - open-ended questions, questions that have opportunity for details, thoughts, opinions and ideas. Instead of, “How was your day?” ask, “What was your favorite thing about your day?” “How do you feel about the math test you had today?”
  4. Give my full attention to the daily anecdotes and thoughts. Unplug and listen. 

My ESL Teaching Resolutions (Korean Elementary School):
  1. Quickly establish and engrain attention grabbers.
  2. Put the effort into figuring out and forming a rewards system. Ten stamps for completing homework equals a small bag of gourmet jelly beans. 
  3. Find a set number of favorite reusable game concepts and put them into a rotation. Less stress for me and more fun and something to look forward to for the students (i.e. Hidden Picture, Memory Game, Bomb Games).
  4. More open opportunity for questions (culture-related, personal, opinion). Every two weeks, on Monday, start the class with five minutes of free questions, for example.
  5. More open opportunity for casual English conversation. While in Korea, one of my fellow ESL teachers started an English Mailbox where the students could put English notes/letters they had written, and she would answer!
  6. Work at teaching relationship with co-teacher. This is a big, important resolution that after a year of co-teaching in Korea, I am ready to prioritize and work really hard on. My main co-teacher in Korea told me soon before I left that she probably wouldn’t have talked to me had she not been the English teacher. That hurt because I thought we were best friends. She was the one person in my every day that I talked to, conferred with about students and school happenings. It also hurt to know that I hadn’t put myself out on the line enough. Meeting and getting to know new people takes risk. The initial “hello” and subsequent questions and shared experiences that build a relationship are difficult because they require a certain amount unknown. What does this person think of me? Am I sharing or talking too much? Add a language barrier and those anxieties triple.  First time living in a foreign country, I had maybe put too much of that responsibility on my co-teachers and co-workers. My resolution would to be more active in my daily interactions and relationships in my school.
Travel Resolutions:
  1. Travel with purpose, not just for raw experience and exposure. Far beyond a check mark and "I want to see this landmark," I want a new city to mean something for a project, my work, or personal or family history.   
  2. Seek out what interests me and join groups that share those interests. I want to write. Find good company in which to write with or a group that supports and has advice for such a lifestyle.
  3. Form a project to work on while traveling. In Korea, I completed a Happy Day 100 #happybee100 on Instagram photo challenge in which I took a photo of whatever made me happy that day, for 100 days. As big or as small, short term or long term, multi-tasking and having projects is my comfort zone just as much as sleeping all day is.
[See my personal resolutions for the new year]
My Teaching Background:

I have mostly been a kid-person thus far. I took a babysitting class at the local hospital when I was in 6th grade, and I have been babysitting with an official babysitting certificate for family friends and neighbors since.

My little brothers are twelve plus years younger than me, and I feel comfortable saying that I helped raise them in a mama-sister sense. It is one of favorite things to be with them, talk to them, sword fight them with empty wrapping paper tubes.

When I worked as a Teaching Assistant at Creative Learning Preschool, I observed and learned a lot about the non-familial relationships or friendships kids form when they play, eat, nap, and experience new things (through art, music, field trips, walks, and books) in a setting outside their home.

Finally, I taught English as a Second Language in South Korea for one year. Working in an elementary school in rural Korea has changed me both subtly and apparently. The people I met, the students I adored, the system in which I worked, and the customs of my school and the country emphasized that kids are kids. People are people. Food is food in that it fills the belly. All the differences and new perspectives I experienced teaching English were lassos around the greater goal of education.


Abigail prefers walking to motorized vehicles and likes the idea of slow travel, getting to know a place by building up a routine that absorbs the new culture. Her interests include illustration, editing (film & writing), reviews, boston terriers, artist books, and iPhonography. 


  1. I love your resolution about asking better questions!! I feel it is one thing that really made me a better teacher :) Heads up though, many students aren't ready for this and will take much longer to answer these questions. They may even dislike them at first as they cause them to really think! Good luck :)

    1. Thank you, Carissa! I like that a lot - that phrasing a question may stop them in their tracks! I'm happy to know that it has worked well for you. Good luck with your teaching year as well and yes! Stop and eat some lunch ^^

    2. So far I've had pretzels one day and a trail mix bar the I am doing OK I guess :) Better than 2014!

    3. Yes! YUM pretzels. Replenish sodium!! I also love trail mix bars. Efficient nutrient intake and filling! Keep it up I say :) Have you heard of Mason jar salads? Basically, you fill a mason jar with salad makings - dressing first, then the hard veggies and other toppings, and lastly lettuce. Pretty easy, tasty, and healthy.

  2. Awesome, Abby! If you're looking for a virtual writing group, I recently joined (and then left... as a personal effort to simplify and such) The Writing Sidekick on G+. Every Monday you can post your week's writing goals, and then on Friday check back and see how they went, among other weekly posts. Participate as much or as little as you want.

    1. Ooooo thank you. Checking it out now. Setting concrete deadlines has always been an issue for me. Hope the east coast is treating you well!