Thursday, September 07, 2006

Little Brown

Little Brown

The school that we teach at is called Little Brown. Not Little Brown School or Academy, just plain Little Brown. I'm not really sure why this is, but it does leave you hanging a bit if you ask me. Teaching at Little Brown is a little, shall I say, hectic and disorganized and quite stressful if you're new. It took me two days to figure out how to read the schedule they gave me. I have to write down what books we use for each individual class since there is nowhere to reference this. They show you once and you're expected to remember it. I mean, you can ask your coteacher (which I do all the time) but sometimes they are busy or not available and there is the slight fear that eventually they will get fed up and tell Lewis teacher (in Korean) about the waygook incompetence. I'm not sure any of the Korean teachers would do this since they seem very meek and sweet, but you never know.

So on Monday we started work. There is no such thing as training and this makes perfect sense. I mean, when you are brought up in an English speaking country you automatically are able to teach progressive and non-progressive verbs and know how to explain to a tiny Korean person when they are supposed to use 'the'. This is why having English as your native tongue is so amazing; it grants you super powers. Let me say, Monday was one of the most confusing, stressful and all around awful days of my life. I had this knot in my stomach for a good part of the day and basically felt like the biggest moron to ever cross the ocean. Now that I've made it to Thursday, I know that I will probably catch on okay and will not be fired and deported. Monday Amber, however, had no access to this information and was extremely distressed. I was brave though and did not cry until I was safe at home in my room. I know I can be pretty hard on myself and that patience isn't always my strong suit so I am hoping this experience will help me learn those lessons.

So the way the schedule works is that we show up at 9am and morning classes start at 9:45am. I guess that time is for planning and stuff. In the morning we teach the kindergarten students. Everyone has a co-teacher who they work with and everyone (except me) has 2 kindergarten classes. So one teacher works with one class and the other with the other class and then they switch. I lucked out on the kindergarten front since, not only do I get to teach the youngest and most adorable students (age 5- but actually 4 in real age since Koreans start counting at 1 at birth), I also only have one class so me and my co-teacher, Kelly Teacher, are always together with these 5 students (all boys). This is really excellent for me since Kelly has been there for 2 months and knows what she is doing and has taught me alot of stuff. She's also super cute and always says things that make me giggle. For example, her favorite movie is "The Sound of Music". I mean, how adorable is that? She has the soundtrack and plays it all the time during class when the kids are working and she sings along to the songs. No evil can lie in a heart that loves "The Sound of Music".

My kindergarten classroom. Home of the "Lion" class (all the kinders' classes have animal names).

In the afternoon things we teach the elementary students and things get much more tricky. In total I have 5 elementary classes, all of different students who are at totally different skill levels. Monday and Friday are my days from hell where I teach the kinders and then all 5 of my elementary classes. My first day was no exception which is why I was so stressed out. We finish with the kinders at 1:30pm and the elementary lessons start at 3pm. Each class is 40 minutes long and again there is this co-teacher business. My elementary co-teachers are Kelly Teacher and Paige Teacher. So from 3-3:40pm there is a class, then a 3 minute break, then another class, then a whopping 7 minute break, etc, etc, until 7:23pm arrives and all classes are over for the day. I have 4 classes that come on Mon., Wed., Fri. and the other class comes on Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri.. So Tuesday and Thursday are awesome since I only have one elementary class and am finished work by 4:30pm. The other nights I have either 4 or 5 classes and don't finish until 7:23pm.

On Monday I was totally counting down the seconds until my classes ended because the were such a disaster. I was being handed random books 3 minutes before I entered this class of kids who I've never met before and was expected to teach them whatever course material was in said book. I'm one of those people who learns best by watching someone else and asking questions so this was definitely out of my comfort zone. I feel better now that I've written down a lot of stuff about each class and now that I know how to read my schedule. Mistakes are still happening almost hourly, but no one has died yet. The kids also really like to call me Hamburger Teacher which is actually kind of funny. Nothing really rhymes with Amber, but growing up I got Pamper alot and hamburger is pretty tame in comparison. The kids are easily scared though with threats like, I will not stamp your conduct card (they get points for good behavior, getting 100% on tests and completing homework) or I will send you to the corner (where they have to stand with their arms in the air) so I don't think they will call me Hamburger for very long.

So tomorrow is Friday and my crazy day. I am really looking forward to it being over so that I can relax all weekend and maybe go into Seoul with Joi. I figure the first week will probably be one of the hardest, so if I can survive I will be good to go. Matt is handling the teaching stuff a bit better than I am but he's not as high strung in nature and he has been a TA in Canada so he doesn't really count. I mastered the photocopier yesterday and that does bring me one step closer to conquering the world, so never fear!

1 comment:

Sweet Mags said...

I love your classrooms.. kindergarten seems like a lifetime ago but it is funny how similar pre-k and lindergarten classrooms look no matter where you are.