Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Takin' Care of Business

I started my teaching job last week. I teach 22 classes of 36-40 students at an all girls high school. For those of you with exceptional math skills you see that I teach anywhere from 792-880 high school girls per week. I'm no scientist but I did a little research and according to my calculations that comes out to about 1 million decibels of ear-splitting squeals, yells and laughter. Now don't get me wrong, my students are great; I think they just don't know their own strength. So share with my journey through the first few days:

Day 1-The First Day
I had my very first class in a room without temperature control, so it was about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The room had a podium set in front of a small platform for teaching. I decided that an introduction to me would be a great way to start every class for the first week. So I step onto the platform and begin giving my little introduction. I walk to the right side of the platform, then to left, then back to the right, then off the platform into a small computer desk. My right foot failed to land securely on the platform and I fell into a computer desk resulting in a huge bruise on both my right knee and my ego. The girls loved my little comedy act and so I just continued lecturing. After class I am walking with my co-teacher, Jang, down the stairs and she gave me some advice on how not to fall. Later in the week we went out to dinner together, and once again she made sure I took care not to fall when walking on some uneven ground. Later later in the week we were walking outside and she warned me to watch my footing so I won't fall. It's official, I'm the girl who falls.

Day 2- The nothing day
Not much to say about this one, they were having tests but they want all teachers to be at their desks during testing. So I taught no classes but got some lesson planning done and met the other foreign teacher, Aalia, who is from South Africa. Make a friend at work, check.

Day 4- The Teacher's Meeting
Monday morning, Shin (my amazing co-teacher) lets me know that they want me to come to the teacher's meeting so they can introduce me. Keep in mind, this is not an English teacher's meeting, it is a whole school meeting so it is all in Korean. At the very beginning of the meeting, the principal stands up and says a few sentences in Korean with a few "Katarina" and "Katai" scattered in, so I knew he was talking about me. Shin motions for me to stand up. After a minute the president stops talking and looks at me, I take this as a signal to start talking. So I bow and say "Good Morning", all 50+ people in the room burst into laughter and Shin smiles and tells me we are all done and brings me back to my class...I guess I'm really funny in Korea.

Day 5- Team Building Time
All this week I am separating my girls into 6 teams to make the classes more manageable. Every team makes a poster for me with their team name, logo and member's names. My last class of the day is always rambunctious so I know what to expect...most of the time. I get through my explanation, hand out the posters and let them have the last 25 mins to work on them. After 20 mins I notice that one of the groups has not written anything on their poster and the clear leader of the group was just holding it. I walked over to make sure they understood the instructions and it was obvious to me that the leader speaks pretty good English. I asked them to pick the best artist in the group and have her do the poster, the leader says "I am the best artist! I will do it!" She then proceeded to pick up the paper and markers and glare at me indignantly. I told them to pick any English word and she nodded and glared at me. I begged them to write something and she would pretend to write and then stop. Finally, I said "just draw a picture and I will choose a name for you based on that." Again she pretended to write and then stopped. At about 2 minutes till the end of class I told them to just list their names and then I went to check on the other groups. When class was over the leader handed me the paper upside down, so I knew it wasn't good. I turned it over as her and her friends burst into laughter. Across the top they had written "CRIPPLE" in all caps and in the middle of the poster was a picture of a girl with no arms. You win this round Team Cripple....

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