Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Challenges in the classroom

So as much as I love my new job at Hyun-il Middle and High School, I have been dealing with some challenges which at times have been a real battle. Today is Tuesday and my most difficult day at school. I walked into work this morning telling myself it was going to be a good day, and praying that my students would listen and participate. Sadly it was not the case.

Let me recap quickly...I have 10 classes in middle school and 10 in high school. I have 6 co-teachers in total. High school is awesome and the students participate for the most part. My middle school classes on the other hand never cease to amaze me with their lack of interest and sleeping through anything capabilities. On Tuesdays I have my 3 most difficult classes with a co-teacher that rarely shows up and when she does show....well she might as well not have come. I get little to no help with translating or discipline. Today she told me, "Savannah you shouldn't worry about the students being loud and rude, just keep teaching." This is not acceptable to me so today I decided to write her a letter in which I will make her feel that she is needed and beneficial in my classroom. Although I feel that getting a replacement co-teacher would be the best option, I think thats not a possibility. Therefore I have to work with what I have got, hopefully I can make her feel important enough to get her to come to class and actually help me to improve it.

So as you can see my day didn't go so well. All three of my classes with this co-teacher were a joke. She came to the first class we had together but the students still misbehaved horribly. Then she didn't come to the other two classes. This makes life for me and the students even more difficult because sometimes the students need a little help with translating. The main problem is that I can't even get the students to be quiet for 1 minute to give them instructions for a game. They are constantly up running around, throwing paper at each-other, bullying one another, and yelling while others are speaking. I got extremely angry during 2 of the classes today, sending two students to the hall and having to yell pretty loudly and bang on the chalk board to try to get their attention. I don't like being mean, but I think I may have been a little too nice from the beginning and therefore the students see no consequences for their actions.

So after watching youtube videos all night on discipline in the classroom and how to effectively teach I have come to the conclusion that I need to try another approach. I also think that the students are not bad children, but maybe their level is low and therefore they are acting out or they have no motivation to do well because they do not receive a grade in my class. I have decided not to take the anger approach but rather implement some rules and consequences that I should have started in the beginning. I want the students to feel motivated and have fun. I found an awesome website called edutopia.org which discusses what to do when students misbehave. The only problem is that it is so difficult when the students don't speak much English. I know that if I spoke Korean or if my co-teacher would help me to effectively teach and lay down ground rules my classes could be so much more effective. All I can hope is that my co-teacher reads the letter and is willing to put in the effort. I really try to focus on the few good students who want to learn in the class but it is so hard when they can't even hear me speak because everyone is so loud. I hope this gets better soon, I find it very disheartening to try so hard and still have constant issues with these classes. Hoping for the best~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another year in Korea

It has been far too long since I have updated my blog. Since my last post about China so many events have happened that I can't discuss them all in detail. Basically, here is a quick rundown of the last 7 months. In May I had the chance to go to Taiwan, I traveled there by myself. It was amazing! Taiwanese are lovely and caring people. I spent my week there in the far south in a small town called Kenting. This place had an amazing feel, relaxed and beachy vibe. I stayed at a hostel called Afei for half of the time, although not the most comfortable I highly recommend staying here. You can rent surf boards and motorbikes and the people who run the place are amazing. There are always people hanging around locals and foreigners alike, who are up for anything! I met a girl named Moe who was visiting from Japan, we ended up visiting many places together. It was nice making a new friend.

After returning from Taiwan I was very unhappy being back in Korea. For about a month I was having hard time being at work. The Intstitute was hard enough to deal with on a daily basis, but after being on vacation I didn't want to be there at all. I was thankful to have a few close friends/coworkers (Ellen and Nia) who were always there to boost my spirits.

I used my summer vacation to return to Washington for 3 weeks in July. It was the best thing I could have done for myself. I had decided a month before in June that I would stay in Korea for another year, so my trip home really refueled me. I felt better emotionally and mentally about coming back to Korea.

After deciding to renew my contract and returning to Korea from visiting home, I wasn't sure if I should leave the Institute or transfer. I didn't know what to do at first, I really wanted to stay in Andong. I kept going back and forth....'maybe I want to stay at the Institute...but then someone would tell me..'Savannah, don't do that...you are not happy there!' I knew that I couldn't stay there if I wanted to keep myself healthy. Even though I was at a point where I could handle work, I knew that I really wanted to be in a real classroom. It was really hard for me to step outside my comfort zone and decide to leave. When a my friend and her boyfriend decided to leave Korea for good, I jumped at the chance to take his job in Gumi city. I knew his situation and the fact that he loved his job at the middle and high school. It was a big difference from teaching elementary kids (which I love) and online teaching...but I had to go for it!  So sadly, I had to say goodbye to my good friends Ellen and Eddie, but I have benefited greatly from moving to his job. I currently really like Gumi, this is my second week of school. My coworkers are amazing!

Oh yes, and before moving to Gumi I used my renewal vacation of 2 weeks to go to Thailand!~ I went with my friend Jill from home....the trip was great. I loved Thailand and plan to go back someday. We saw elephants, monkeys, beautiful beaches, and I drank so many mango smoothies. The only thing is that I got the worst food poisoning of all time that started the day we left. I barely remember my 5 hour layover in China...I was so out of it. The food poisoning lasted for two weeks!!

When I came back to Korea I only had 5 working days left at the Institute before coming to Gumi! It was such a relief to know that I had made the right choice in leaving Andong and moving to Gumi and I felt at peace with my decision during that last week at the Institute. I packed up all my stuff (way toooo much stuff) and hired a truck to move it all to Gumi. Ellen came with me to Gumi in my moving truck and I was happy to spend her last weekend in Korea together. Ellen and Eddie left for Bali and their big backpacking trip around Southeast Asia...before relocating in New Zealand. I am hoping I can make it there before they move again!

Well basically that is a wrap up of my life the last 7  months. I really like my new job at Hyun-Il. My new apartment is way bigger than my last although there are no kitchen counters. That makes thing a little difficult. I live right behind the train station so I can travel around Korea much faster. There are many foreigners in my building so I have already made some new friends.  This weekend I may be going to a film festival in Busan, it has been a year since I have been to that city. I am currently feeling good about my next 11 months in Korea....the only thing is I wish the exchange rate would get better so I can send some money home!!!