Category Archives: Teaching in Korea

Busy Busy Bumblebees…

Can you say your name for me?

That’s the song we sing when new students come to learn their names.

So far so good this week.  I haven’t been as prepared for classes as usual (though I doubt anyone would notice but me) this week because of the holiday last week.  We had last Thursday off, and Thursday is the only day I get some good planning period time in.  But things have been going just fine.  Only two of the new students have come to stay and I am pretty pleased with their behavior and abilities for the time being.  They’re two boys, and they’re only here for the summer months.  A more permanent student is waiting to join us in a few weeks.

I had two other trial students come in but they aren’t permanent students yet.  If their parents decide to let them in, they will join for the rest of the year, but I don’t know what’s going to happen yet.  Neither of them understand any English nor can they read or write.  The rest of the class is way beyond that, but I have to keep in mind that my whole class was at the same point only 3 months ago.  If their parents don’t mind them floundering for a bit, they’ll catch up.  It’s not up to me whether they come or not, so I’ll just make the most of whatever situation arises.

This week is super busy because of report cards, too.  We have to write individual comments for all of the students we teach (around 50).  Luckily I got started a couple of weeks ago, but that’s eating up all of my planning time at work too….

Lately I feel like I’ve got more free time at home, and yet I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing all the things I want to.

  • relaxing
  • learning Chinese characters (about 20 per week)
  • reading 1984 in Korean
  • learning new vocabulary (around 100 per week)
  • studying math for the GRE
  • translating articles for Ilda
  • drawing
  • painting
  • writing
  • reading in English
  • exercising
The further you get down that list the less likely it is I’m doing it.  I’m fantasizing about being a student again, only going to school a few hours a day and having a justification for reading and studying.

Sorry about the silence

Hello, it’s been a while since I posted last.  Things are pretty busy here– school is its own task, and I have been doing a lot of things outside of work that have kept me away from the computer most days.  Recently I decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing to refresh my skills with math and English in case I want to take the GRE sometime soon.  I’ve also been focusing on other studies (Chinese characters) and simultaneously trying to keep up with my goal of reading 36 books this year.  It’s been keeping me busy to say the least.

Last week we celebrated the first birthday in my class.  In the last two weeks my students have really impressed me with how much English they are speaking.  They seem so eager to show off their skills to me, and they never speak Korean when speaking to me anymore.  Every student in my class can form basic sentences and knows enough vocabulary to feel like they can try to communicate, and their vocabulary just grows and grows.  As far as English acquisition, this is my most impressive class with how quickly they’ve learned.  They continue to be enthusiastic about school and still maintain their silliness and creative side.  I’m pretty pleased with my class!

On Thursday we went on our first picnic this year to Olympic Park.  My class spent the whole time talking about things they could see.  Last week we learned words for things in nature, as well as the sentence pattern “I can see a ____” or “I can see some ____s.”  They used the heck out of it yesterday and really amazed me with how much English they can use now.  The more they learn the easier it gets to teach, and I never have to speak Korean anymore.

This weekend I’m not doing my usual relaxing– I’m off to Jeonju for a conference on feminist issues.  I have no idea what to expect at all, so I’ll have to let you know when I return!  Hope you are all well.

P.s. I noticed that most of the kindergarten blogs I read are all ending because the school year is over in the states, and I’m super jealous about not have any kind of summer vacation and about being so far away from the end of a school year!

Spring Festival

I really wish I had pictures to show, but I was so freaking busy all day that I never would have had time to take any.

Today was our Spring Festival!  We have been preparing for the last two weeks.  I haven’t really stressed out about it because I picked a chapel song for my class to perform.  That meant that they already knew all of the lyrics and kind of new the dance moves, so we just had to practice a little bit to make sure they were coordinated.  Sure everyone wasn’t going the same direction when we practiced, but they were having fun and it was still cute.  So I wasn’t very worried.

Today the big day came.  In the morning half of the classes came (not including mine) and the whole festival went over well.  There wasn’t enough time, but it seemed like the parents were really involved this year.  I was pleased to see a lot of fathers and siblings coming out, and they all participated in the events.  My event was “Photo Zone” which meant I just took polaroid photos of everyone who passed by.  I kept surprisingly busy the whole time.  It was really fun to see my students from last year perform (actually their rehearsal brought me to tears yesterday, they were so sweet…) and see their parents too.

The festival in the morning ran over so we barely had time to scarf down some really bizarre ham/cheese/mashed potato sandwiches that the school prepared for us before the afternoon group arrived!  Slowly my students trickled in and were full of wild energy and excitement.  They were so eager to do the festival so we tried to get them to settle down a little before the show, and gave them lots of tips about how to do well.

They did great!  They all sang loudly, they all danced in the same direction, and best of all the all had huge grins on their faces the whole time.  The principal announced that they were a new class, as if to explain why they weren’t very good, but they were fantastic.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  I hope the parents were really pleased.  After that the afternoon was a huge blur.  I didn’t get to see what was going on in the rest of the festival but all of the other teachers said it went well.

Finally it ended… but then our elementary students arrived.  We had to teach one class but then the second two classes were another festival!  I am pretty festivaled out and my feet are absolutely killing me.  I sure am glad it’s Friday so I can sit down for a long, long time!!!

Teaching By Themes

One thing my head teacher has made more of an effort to do this year is to get our curriculum coordinated onto themes. This month’s theme was spring, growth, and specifically flowers.  I have really enjoyed this month so much!  I mentioned that we planted seeds a few weeks ago, and we have been watching them sprout and grow in the classroom.

In science class today we talked about the parts of a flower today and the school ordered me some really fancy pink lilies for the lesson.  The whole wing of the school was filled with a beautiful scent all day, and the kids were really amazed to see and touch and dissect the flowers.  They got to take pollen from one flower and touch the stigma of another, and we talked about pollination and the life cycle of plants.  I think only 10% of the kids truly grasped the concept, the others at least got to touch and see, and next year when they learn about it again in science class they will have a better foundation.  It was a really great lesson.

The kids have been bringing in show-and-tell all about spring, and one girl has been taking a photo of her plant’s growth at home every day and bringing it in to share.  We also bring spring into our art projects.  We made a flower picture frame with the student’s faces this week, and next week we will be using cut paper to make flower collages with different parts of the flower we’ve learned about.

I am finding a lot of positive points about this school year, and I feel very confident that our curriculum in the 6-year-old classes has really improved.  On Wednesday one class wrote a whole sentence on their own as I dictated it.  I can’t even emphasize how amazing that is.  Usually they aren’t doing that until the end of the year, but we have been working so hard on letter formation and talking about parts of a sentence (spacing between words, capitalization, punctuation etc.).  It’s really making a difference, which makes me feel like a great teacher.  All 4 of us teachers are working together to drill in the same concepts in our different classes, and it is working well.

I’m really having fun with my class these days.  Last week we did the seed planting, then today we made paper butterflies.  The butterflies were huge and I was really impressed with what the kids did.  Some kids made the wings symmetrical even though I didn’t ask them to or say anything about that.  I put them up around the room and the whole place looks like it belongs to them now.  The classroom is messier than I’m used to, but also very cheerful.  The students respond so positively to  me and really enjoy all the things we do.  They are picking up English effortlessly and I never have to force them to use it.  I’m really pleased with their progress.