Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On Observations and Practice

Day 6-8 (3/25/2008)—

So, I just passed my one week mark in Korea. And, why did I come here? To teach English? Well, why hasn’t there been a post on teaching? Well, stop wondering! Here goes. Note: the use of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3-5, etc. has the appearance of an attempt at timeline continuity. It isn’t. I meander through life, why should my stories be any different?

My first week found my arrival on Monday night. Beginning on Tuesday and ending on Thursday, I had observations and training. I was basically watching the classes that I would be taking over beginning on Friday. Tuesday was filled with learning people’s names. There are 7 or 8 foreign teachers (hopefully, 7, but I’m still learning everyone’s names, so I could be forgetting someone). Mainly, the foreign teachers are comprised of Americans, one Brit, and one Canadian (speaking of Canadians…you know the only good thing about Canadians is that you can make fun of the French and Canadians at the same time). And, actually, 4 of the Americans are from Washington State. And, one went to the University of Washington at the same time that I did, but I did not know her at the time. The girl from UW is the head foreign teacher for the afternoon classes, which are primarily students that are past first grade (as apposed to the morning classes for preschool and kindergarten). So, she is my immediate supervisor.

My first day of observations feels a bit like being in a zoo. All of the teachers that I am observing have their students (soon to be my students) ask questions of me. 1) Where are you from? I always use the last place I was living…Alaska. Since, it would be hecka confusing to say Alaska via Washington via Georgia via Washington via Wisconsin via Georgia via a birth in Tennessee. Even I am confused and I know where I’ve lived. And, Alaska is exotic and a Korean vacation destination. So, it just makes me look cooler. 2) How old are you? I am 26, though I changed by the end of the day because by the Korean age standards, I am 28. I don’t know why yet, so don’t ask. Apparently though, I lost more than just one day passing over the International Date Line. 3) Do you have a girlfriend, a wife, or, one kid asked about, a boyfriend? No, no, and heck no. Just because I am thin? That was about all that happened my first day of observations that I can think about. I was still incredibly jetlagged at the time (I almost fell asleep starting about 2 hours before the last class; so I dug the head of my pen into my hand…it worked to keep me awake for another 15 minutes or so).

The next day brought more of the same. Me needing sleep and watching other teachers do there jobs. I might say that it was a good thing that I was only watching and did not actually have to teach, but then came Thursday. Ahh…yes, Thursday brought bad stuff for me.

Thursday was the first (and only) practice class for me. When I say practice, I mean I was standing up in front of a regular class of 6 students that I was not familiar with and giving a lesson to them while being watched by the UW head foreign teacher and two of the Korean academic directors. Well, the best I can say is that I kept talking through the lesson. Otherwise, I think I tanked it. Frankly, I felt bad for the kids. My language was not simple enough (partly because I was not familiar with their level and partly because I was being watched); my presentation was just boring; and I really was not able to get the kids involved in the material well enough (they didn’t trust me and I didn’t know them).

But not to worry…my first day of classes would begin the next day (Friday). How badly could I screw up my own classes? Well, I don’t know, I’m still reflecting on that. I’ll get back to you when I’ve reflected on it some more. For now, I’m off. Mainly, I just need to brush my teeth, my roommate brought home some corn tea. It was just about as disgusting as I thought it would be before I drank some. Even considering being in Korea, I have a feeling that was a “screw with the foreigners” drink.



Anonymous said...

Hey bro! After reading this blog, I think you can leave the corn tea there. I said find some good tea for me. :)

I love reading your blog, so keep it up.

Miss ya!
Your sis

Anonymous said...

Hey Matt! I finally read your blog and spent the entire experience stifling laughter! (It's after midnight here and I have to be careful not to laugh too loud! Congrats on surviving one week, though. A milestone indeed.

You know I can't resist the opportunity to laugh at your fears regarding hospitals! Frankly, they strike me as both humorous and slightly true. Now that I know about your aversion to needles, I'll have to keep some on hand. What I would have given to see you pass out when they drew your blood!!!

Keep up the blogs - I haven't laughed this hard in a long time!


Matt W said...

Sis--I'll work on the tea. But, remember I can't read Hangul yet, so I'll just look at the pretty pictures and say eeny-meeny-miny-mo...

Jeff--I'll drop you a line here in a bit. I'm in Gimpo.

Kathleen--I'm glad you enjoyed it, I'll try and keep them coming. I should never be this honest. Now I have to watch my back the next time your around. If I see a needle, I will flip!!! :)