Another rainy day in Yongmoon

Yesterday (Friday) went a lot better.  Although, it started out poorly. I spent so much time working on a lesson for the kids only for my Ko-teacher to tell me it was wrong, which made me really frustrated and left me feeling inadequate.  Which is silly, right?  How many American teachers come here actually knowing enough Korean to get by?  I didn't go to school for it, so I shouldn't be so hard on myself for not understanding everything the teachers are saying or the students are asking.

My post initial thought was: if I’d had some direction and communication this wouldn’t have happened.  However, my Ko-teacher can speak little English outside of the things she has learned through the class.  Truthfully, her students will know more than her by the time they go on to the 7th grade in another school.  She knows she's lacking, so I try to reassure her it is ok.  It's not her fault that I came here thinking I was a secondary teacher, rather than the primary. 

The students' curriculum is relatively easy to master... almost everything is taught from the books and lesson modules on interactive DVD's, so there's little need for me to think outside the box, except to develop the occasional PPT presentation relating the information to my own personal experience (ie tell a story and use my own photographs).  I'll be spending the weekend focusing on developing my lessons, needless to say.  Still, I feel better and more positive than yesterday. 

Heur drove me home after school and he's quite intuitive, recognizing that I was not as happy as I had been Wednesday  (note:  Heur is extremely in LOVE with his girlfriend, who is OMG adorable, so don't read anything into this).  He prefaced this with saying he wants to be friends and asked if I considered him a friend or just a coworker.. and I said I consider him both!  So, he asked why I seemed so blue.  Since he was kind enough to bother and sincere in his concern I decided to open up to him and explain myself to him.  Please understand that it isn't appropriate for people to overly emote or to express too much hardship here... it's not very Confucian, meaning it can place burden on another's shoulders, which may interrupt the flow of energy which allows everyone to be able to live their lives and do their jobs as they need (simplified, of course).  

Anyway, Heur reassured me that I am doing well and that he understands why I would be a bit distressed about teaching and coming in to the environment.  He's a great person to have at the school, as his English is decent and he's comfortable talking with me.  The female teachers are AWESOME, btw.  Almost all the teachers are young (younger than me).  They're worried I will have a difficult time and constantly express concern over my well-being.  So, I do feel a genuine interest and like from the staff and students. 

The students love me, at least at Yongmoon... I draw and sing and try to engage their interests while keeping the lessons on track.  I need a bit more time at the other school (and the one I haven't gone to yet). Apparently, the former female teacher was so awful to them they're all but suffering from PTSD. 

At Yongmoon they have a saxophone class and the students play the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute.  So, I play around with them singing bits and pieces of it here and there, which they giggle and laugh at. 

Before we left for the day I had to sign my new contract, since my old one didn’t reflect my pay increase due to my TESOL certification.  This was done in the principal’s office, where it was somewhat of a formal affair.  Heur excused himself to conduct some business of his own, which left me with the principal, who took the opportunity to (systematically) talk to me about... something or other LOL.  Occasionally he would chuckle to himself and I, only catching every 5 or so words (mostly: care, kids, teach, English, Korean, strong, etc) sat there trying not to freak out and curse myself for not studying my Korean every single hour the last few weeks before I came! 

After the new contract was signed I had to formally greet the staff at the weekly staff meeting.  There they once again introduced me with my bio and I went through the ‘about me’ spiel.  I expressed my gratitude at being able to work at Yongmoon and my eagerness to be of help.  I also asked everyone to please feel comfortable in giving me advice should they notice an area where I could improve myself and my teaching.  And finally, I summarized with “please take care of me”, which is a common request when introducing yourself at a new job, school (if you’re a student), etc.

Sketching my students...

Once I wrapped it up, I was allowed to leave.  Heur was apparently jealous that I didn’t have to sit through 1-1.5 hours worth of boring talk LOL.  So, I spent the remainder of that time upstairs hanging out with some of the 6th graders who were working on art projects.  YAY!!! 

I helped them with their printmaking (thank you, Koichi-san!!) and, as one student was drawing, I drew him.  All in all, it was a good day.  Stressful, but the learning curve is slowly straightening out and I’m beginning to feel more confident. 

Scenic drive from Yongmoon to Yecheon.