Sunday, March 6, 2011

Korean Soccer!

1) Celebrating after a win
2) The beautiful world cup stadium
3) Tailgating outside the stadium

I'm recovering from quite a full week. Not only has the work load/ work drama been intense but, I'm getting over tonsillitis and a pretty awful cold. Being sick always makes everything a little more difficult.

On Monday I worked diligently to prepare my classroom, lesson plans and materials for the new school year that started Wednesday. Luckily, we had Tuesday off and even though I was sick I went in and worked all day. I don't know what I would have done without that day because it allowed me to fully prepare for my new classes. Speaking of… the new classes are great… it's nice to switch things up a little bit and start fresh. So, this might very possibly bore you to tears but.. here is what my week looks like. I begin every morning with my 10:00 Bell-Kindergarten class (there are three levels of Kindergarten and Bell is the youngest). We do a variety of different actives, everything from math to phonics until 12:30. Lunch is at 12:30 then I have until 3:20 to work on lessons, material preparation, extra work (I'll go into that later). I used to have a 30 minute break in which I could come up to my room but for whatever reason, they took that away. This solid two hours really helps- I can usually get a lot done, unless management is calling me downstairs for yet another meeting. My Bell Kindergarten class has their afternoon activities from 1:00-2:30.. the brand new teacher (Brian) teaches those and I usually try to pop in and out to make sure my kiddies are on task and following Brian's directions. At 3:20 I teach an after school class, they are on a Kindergarten level but they only come for 50 minutes a day… not 5 hours like the other Kindergarteners. That 50 minutes with them really flies by… this class will definitely be a challenge. I only have two of them… Suri and Paul (I named him after my friend from home… he's a younger, Korean version of my American friend, Paul- haha). Suri came in with her English name. They are such cuties and they are pretty comfortable with me because they already attend regular school. After I finish up with Suri and Paul on Tuesday and Thursday, I'm done! Ah.. I love Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I work a bit longer. After my 3:20 class ends (4:10), I teach a Leopard 3 class (equivalent to 1st/2nd grade). I have 7 students in this class and I love all of them, especially the boys. They are so responsive and very eager to learn. At 5:45 I teach my last class of the day which I also LOVE! This is my higher level class- Giza 2 (equivalent to 4th grade.. I have quite a mix of ages, everything from 10 to 14). Some of the girls in this class have been with me since I got here in August so we are very close. I have a blast with this group of 8… I've got a nice group of young adults. I am silly and sarcastic as hell with them but it really makes learning fun. Maybe that sounds bad but, we have a great time!

So, all these new teachers… maybe your confused or maybe you haven't even noticed the chaos. We got a new teacher- Kevin, a few weeks ago. Well… remember that bad feeling I had in the very beginning when I told you that he already missed his flight here… hmm, that bad feeling was right on point. He was a nice guy but….he really couldn't cut it here as a TNE teacher. This business doesn't mess around and so they told him it was time to go! This blew my mind, I found out that there is a 30 day return policy on teachers. I was sure this was a joke but it's not. If the teacher you (the school/academy) get doesn't work, send him back within 30 days and you can get a new one- HAHAHA! He will be on his way back to who knows where, tomorrow. As for Brian… he's the OTHER new teacher and he just got here a week ago. They threw him into things pretty quick but he's been adjusting just fine. Brian's 33… still making me the baby of the bunch, that's okay! I am positive he will be able to survive TNE- it's a tough business but he's got that fire in his belly!

So, that bandwagon of negative teachers is pretty much gone… thank god because it has made a world of difference in how I act. I really hate myself for hoping on that damn wagon so often but now that it's gone I can breathe easy. I wouldn't really say all these teachers are gone… they have been placed in secluded areas of the school in which they can't leave (one really worthless one especially). I guess that's what happens when your that much of a schlepper. Now, the teacher's room is mostly filled with smiles and positive attitudes (this is the teaching world that I prefer… "la la la… happy day.. finger painting, singing songs"- you get it).

So, the management has decided to put my skills to good use.. I'll definitely take that as a compliment. I am now working with them to create a comprehension curriculum for the 1st/2nd grade level. It's really a lot of trial/error and meeting after meeting. If I was working with English speakers, this task might be halfway done but since everything is translated it takes 3 times longer. I am excited to give them something concrete that they can use forever after I am gone. Oh…. did I tell you? Speaking of cirriculums, you know the art curriculum that I worked my ass off on? Well, I didn't think they were going to implement it but at the last minute, they decided they would. Oh, I am so happy! Not only did I create it but now I get to teach it- good times!

So, Friday morning I woke up with no voice. I toughed it out, scaring my kiddies half to death. They already don't understand me cause I'm speaking another language. When I started speaking to them with my barely of a whisper voice they looked at me like I was a monster. I worked with it… I made silly voices all morning to counteract the weird/raspy one. I read monster stories and basically made a fool of myself (pretty much what I do everyday). I finally got them laughing and actually got my one cryers (Jason) to stop crying for the first time in 2 weeks. Of course, after all my younger classes were finished, I got my voice back. What a day!

Enough about work… finally, I got to see some soccer! Gwangju just got a new professional soccer team for 2011. On Saturday a group of friends and I went out to the world cup stadium to watch the new team play against Deagu. We won, 3-2! It was a perfect sunny day…. a huge crowd of foreigners gathered in the parking lot for some tailgating. At 3, we all went into the beautiful stadium with our food and beverages. I love how you can take anything inside, they don't even search you. We enjoyed a great game and of course, each other's company… they even had us on TV. It's rare that you see 60 plus foreigners in one place. After the game, a big group of us went out for a nice dinner. I went home early… still trying to take it easy. I sure as hell don't want to be sick for the work week! Sunday was another beautiful day that had to be spent outside. I took the subway downtown and met my lovely friend Molly for a walk, shopping and a delicious lunch… buffet style! Even though it's been so nice and sunny, the weather is still playing tricks on us. Just when we thought it was getting warm, it got really cold again. I have terrible spring fever. I can't wait to put my winter jackets in a box, send them home and forget about them for many, many months!

Korean Facts/ Randomness:

-Just like at the movie theater… similar scenario at the soccer game: forget the popcorn, enjoy a squid (have it dry or crisp it up on the self serve grill).
- When Korean parents see a group of foreigners and they have their kids with them, they often encourage... even push their children to talk to us. They want so badly for their children to practice the English they know. This happens often but at the soccer game this Saturday, it happened at least 6 times. Sometimes, you will even see a parent shove their child into our group and they walk away so the child is trapped with us. It's all very odd!
-I'm sure I've mentioned this many times before but I'll say it again… the stereo type of right- Asians are terrible drivers. What gets me is the fact that every single cab driver has a little TV attached to the dash board… great idea, huh!?
-In all of Asia, Korea is number one in television entertainment. So… Korean television…it is very interesting… there is at least 5 porn channels and they certainly don't wait till late at night to play their shenanigans. There are about 6 English channels and they often play some really good movies and shows.

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