Wednesday, April 04, 2007

back in the game

I've been back at school for just over a month now--it's already going by unbelievably fast. Teaching feels a lot easier this time around, partly because I'm teaching fewer (but larger--they consolidated second and fifth grade into two classes instead of three) classes but also partly because I'm more comfortable teaching and the students are more comfortable with English. I've been moved from my old desk in the music room to an empty classroom on the fourth floor next to the 6th graders (see pictures).

I sort of hated the music room--the desks in there are high and kind of creepy, it was always freezing cold, and it was next to the special English zone, home of Emily (the strange, possibly crazy Philipino lady who teaches club English classes and guilted me into teaching many of them for her last semester. She accomplished this in part by giving me loads of useless, hideous gifts and in part by relentless nagging)--so I was happy to move into my new upstairs home. The fourth floor is the exclusive domain of the 6th graders--younger kids are scared to come up--so I get a lot fewer visitors during my free time (although it doesn't really feel that way...many of the 6th grade girls and a semi-obnoxious, semi-endearing group of 6th grade boys spend an awful lot of time in there with me). In the month + week I've been back at school, my new room has gone from empty except for the TV and a broken computer, to getting a desk, to getting tables and chairs, to losing the TV, to getting a working computer but no internet, to getting the TV back, to losing the tables and chairs, to losing the TV, and finally, to getting working internet. Since that was kind of unclear, currently (the picture is a week and a half old) my room is completely empty except for my 2 desks, 2 computers (the monitor is embedded in the desk, and the broken computer is still there beside the functional one), and teaching materials. It's a little bare, but it's bright and somewhat warmer than the rest of the school (since I'm apparently the only person who realizes closing the windows can help keep the heat in).

My room is not the only thing that's changed a lot. In Korea, public school elementary teachers can only stay at one school for 5 years, and in one city for 10 (these numbers are slightly different from the ones for middle and high school...I don't know if the system for elementary is different or if my coteacher got her numbers mixed up--she told me about it in English). Teachers and principals and vice principals jumble around a lot, and to start off this new year we lost 3 teachers and gained 4. Of the 4 new people, 2 are men, which is exciting for the school but super awkward for me, since they are both below average (for the school) English speakers and both seem really uncomfortable turning over their classes to a younger, female foreigner. Also, many classrooms have moved, and lots of the teachers are teaching different grades or subjects. Of course, in the beginning no one told me who was teaching what where (and the classroom signs have still yet to be updated), so finding my way around the first week was an adventure.

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