Monday, August 27, 2007

Diana Teacher!

Yesterday was my first day as Diana Teacher. Jane did all the lesson plans, so it was pretty easy for me--all I had to do was take a bit of time just before class to review the material that we were going to do in class that day (and make flash cards and copies as necessary). I also got lucky--three of my six classes were having level testing because the school has gotten a bunch of new students and not all of them are in the appropriate class for their English level. That means I only taught three classes yesterday and proctored tests for the other three.

The schedule is kind of confusing at first. All of the students have a Korean teacher (for grammar and reading) and a foreign teacher like me (for speaking). The younger students come every day and see the Korean teacher and foreign teacher on alternating days (mostly it seems for 50 minutes each day). So the students I see MWF are with the Korean teacher TTh. The older students come for a longer period and will flip flop with a Korean teacher and foreign teacher (like for 40 minutes each--1 hour and 20 minutes total MWF), but only come on alternating days. All the teachers "float" into the classrooms where the students stay put. My schedule fits into that scheme, although things may shuffle around a bit at the start of the new semester and when the other foreign teacher arrives in mid-September.

As for the curriculum, everyone is on the same curriculum, but each class is at a different point in the book series (called, rather cutely, Hop-Skip-Jump, each sequence having 4 books in the series), so a class using Hop 3 is at a much earlier point in their English study than one in Jump 2. Each page of the book is designed to be a lesson, although depending on the length of the class and abilities of the students, Jane sometimes goes through 2-3 pages with a class. Some of the accompanying teacher guides are more useful than others (like stating the objective of the lesson--god I remember how pointless I thought that thing was, but if you're trying to teach a set concept with someone else's materials, it's a lifesaver!). There is also another set of books called Mega series that is a lot more advanced for after a class completes Jump 4, and I have several classes on that series. Finally, I have two unusual classes--a super advanced 4th grader who essentially gets private tutoring because his English is way better than the other little ones and an honors class that seems to be focused on debate and essay, but I teach both of these on Tuesdays, so I have yet to see what they are like. Just as I'm finding Korea so far, it's all a little overwhelming at first, but I'm catching on quickly.

As for the students--they are so much fun! I mean, yeah, they can be a little rambunctious (although they were mostly on their best behavior for the new teacher--haha!), but compared to being cussed out, breaking up fights in the hall, and wondering if the odor I detect coming from the student with bloodshot eyes is, in fact, marijuana, these kids are delightful. I actually kind of like that I have no idea what they are saying about me (they're saying it in Korean!) because while I pretended to ignore the stupid comments of teenagers who mocked me in class so we could get on with the lesson, they did sometimes sting a little. Now I can just blissfully assume they are noting what a great teacher I am or how beautiful I am or that my fashion sense is impeccable--ha!

That and when Jean, a quiet girl in my 3:30 class, texts her Korean teacher later about how she likes me, Linsey teacher tells me about it.

I think when I've figured out the curriculum a bit, I can be a little more creative again. It's like first year teaching where I'm just sort of following someone else's plans/style until I get it enough to develop my own style. However, I highly suspect that my improv skills will be of even greater use in ESL teaching than in English teaching stateside. Once I get the hang of this teaching thing, I'll try to take some pictures of the students because they are way too adorable.

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