Today was the first day of teaching.
First of all, it was just about as cute as I could have guessed. Some kids were half my size all the way to one who was only a few inches shorter than me. Thank goodness none of them were taller – that would have been too much fun for them. My classroom might be the same size as my apartment, give or take. There are about 12 desks, a chalk board, projector, and my desk. During training we were using Smart TVs – basically a gigantic tablet. Unfortunately, I do not have this luxury here. But, hey, I faired pretty well without it.
I met the other English teacher at my school – his name is John. Really a great guy, and thankfully, he is a bit older than me. I don’t think I have asked anyone more questions in the past week than what I asked him today. He is definitely a patient guy and I am very thankful to have someone like that in the classroom next to me. Within my school (and all the others), an English teacher is paired with a Korean teacher and you split lessons(all you really need to know). Anyway, my co-teacher is awesome. Her name is Kate. Where John has been teaching here for more than three years, she has only been here for three months. It was really comforting that they knew exactly how I felt and were very compassionate in that manner. Coming into the school today, I knew hardly anything as far as what classes I would be teaching. It was stressful not knowing what to prepare for, but they helped out a whole, whole lot. My manager seems like a swell guy – very, very happy. The secretaries were also very sweet and even gave me a mug. (That’s how I know I’m a teacher now, right?)
Flying solo for the first time was every single feeling I have ever had all wrapped into one. It was exhilarating, felt fairly death-defying, quite scary, and yet so comforting all at once. There was a moment between classes where I was just cashed out and said to myself, “And I signed up through a whole year of this?” Only to later bite my tongue when I got to work with my largest class of the day.
-Sidenote: I had 5 classes today, ranging from ages 6/7 up to probably 10/11. I didn’t ever ask their ages, but maybe down the road.
All the classes were nearly the exact same in two ways. They each had at least one kid who needed to overcompensate. Or they were completely silent and didn’t want to talk or interact. The smaller the class the faster we could get though material, and in one of them I almost finished WAY too early. With the larger classes, I had trouble getting through everything. Surprisingly, the larger classes were more eager to participate, mostly to out do their classmates. They also were notorious for tattle-tailing.
At the beginning of each block, the first class takes a quiz. The moment they finish – “Done!” “Finished!” It was amazing to me how these kids wanted to learn – maybe not learn English, but just flat out want to learn. They just want you to know they are on their stuff.
At the beginning of each class, I introduced myself and showed them Kentucky on a map, then the skyline of Louisville. For a few of the older classes, I asked them if they knew about baseball and showed them the giant Slugger bat downtown. The look on their faces was too freaking cute.
The funniest moment of the day had to belong to my first class. In the reading passage, we were talking about pajamas. Cotton pajamas. Flannel pajamas. Silk pajamas. So, to make sure they knew what flannel was I go to google and type in flannel pajamas. As I point to a picture in the middle, the problem child of that class, gets up and points off to the side saying, “OOoOOOOH!!!” Click the link and oogle at the hot babe yourself.
The class lost it, laughing so hard.
Future note: Always pull up any possible examples before class.
Throughout the next several classes, I seriously thought my head might fall off. Switching between lesson books/plans, making sure all the right papers were out, and trying to remember their names – it was nuts. (If you were wondering, they all have English names – Emily, Jay, William, Billy, Tom, Rose, etc.) And yeah, I had my first moment of, “Nick, what have you gotten yourself into!?” Then I had the complete 180.
For a writing passage, there was a story about a boy named Tom who went to a flea market. Their job was to write Tom’s letter to his Dad telling him about the experience. “In the conclusion, or end of your letter, what’s something you would say to your dad if you were writing to him? ‘I miss you’ ‘See you soon’? Things like that, right?” I noticed one girl reacted to these questions a lot more than anyone else. So they get to work on their letters and I go around to make sure they are staying on task. I get to the girl and start to read over her letter and nearly teared up! In her conclusion it said something to the effect of, “Well, the flea market has been really fun, but, dad, I really miss you! I can’t wait to see you soon! Bye! ~” It also helped she draws a little heart of her name. TOO CUTE. It was just one of the most genuine things I had ever read – mind you, this is an eight year old, early level, English class. It’s one thing for a kid to copy the exact blueprint of an activity and call it a day – which is totally acceptable. But, it’s a special thing when a kid goes above and beyond to put themselves into what they do. Maybe I overreacted to it, but hey, it was the best part of my day.
If I have one cute moment a week or a month, then I’ll be lucky. Good thing I’m about to be one of the luckiest gentlemen in South Korea.
Finished off the first day with a nice steak dinner with John as I just replayed the afternoon – Momo’s; if you ever come to visit, we’re going.
And one final note… I’ve been working hard to figure out bypassing the Korean proxy stuff. With the suggestion from Yuri (teacher in Seoul from my training group), found an add-on called “Hola” which allowed me to fall asleep to It’s Always Sunny last night. With this same app, I have queued up not one, not two, but THREE possible ways of watching the football game tomorrow morning/tonight. I swear if one of these doesn’t work…. I will be heartbroken. At the very least, I can refresh Twitter and ESPN.com tickers and at least “hear” the big plays.
God speed to my alma mater. I wish I could be there for a brief second to see the kicker’s (UofL or Miami) foot collide with that ball and send our hopes, dreams and wishes into the Atlantic Coast Conference, but alas, I will not. So please, PLEASE enjoy the game a few decibels louder for me, here on the other side of your world. Because if you all scream just a little louder it will fill my void – and hey, maybe I’ll hear you 13 hours away.
Until next time, friends!