Thursday, September 3, 2009

There will be an adjustment period.

It's finally Friday and I have just taught my last class for the week. On top of the normal emotional turmoil that accompanies uprooting yourself from family, boyfriend and friends and moving across the globe I've found teaching to be incredibly stressful and I've felt woefully inadequate and underprepared. The difficulties of communicating to a staff that speaks very little english and children that don't speak it at all seem to accumulate as the days go on and I finish every day exhausted after all the effort I have expended trying to be understood.

Yesterday was probably my worst day so far. I had spent hours preparing for my first lesson plan taught out of the textbook (which I will be using for grades 3-6 all year) and it was abysmal. The students were confused and bored and I was nervous and rushed the lesson. The game I had spent an hour laminating cards for was a complete waste of time and I think both myself and the students left the classroom a little deader inside. After that my school computer broke down and I was unable to prep for my next lesson and spent far, far too much time trying to troubleshoot a computer whose native language was set to Korean.

At about 4:55pm I was invited to another staff dinner because the school nurse was quitting. I just wanted to go home but in the interests of future good relations I accepted. It was a very large group and there was almost no english spoken to me until later when some of the teachers had loosened up a little (the ability to speak english and drunkeness appear to be correlated). At one point there were some speeches and my handler Yani started crying. Sympathizing with her sadness that her friend was leaving and thinking about all the people I had left behind almost got me going too. When I finally got home and I had missed a call from my mom due to a time-difference confusion it was just too much.

Today, however, seems to have been a success. Having finally acquired wrapping paper I was able to give Yani and my principal the gifts I brought (they seemed surprised but gratified) and my 6th grade lesson which I had only spent maybe 15 minutes prepping due to computer problems was a total success. I started off the lesson with a review of the last chapter they'd studied (as the textbook guide recommended). The subject was jobs so I made a powerpoint slideshow of pictures of jobs, only instead of people they were all pictures of dressed up cats and dogs (the internet provides). Then I did a powerpoint slide of some of the topics we were going to be talking about for the current chapter (summer vacation activities). For things like biking and baseball I found funny/extreme photos which got them laughing. The rest of the lesson was exactly by the book but they were pretty involved. I had to make one boy who kept shouting go stand in the corner but that was it. Even the 6th grade teacher seemed surprised.

The cherry on my sundae was being informed by my co-teacher that the mixed 5th/6th grade after-school class would only be meeting twice a week instead of four times.

My joy knows no limits.

Today I will prepare for next week and tonight I look forward to a long quiet evening and maybe a walk by the river. I'll be sure to bring my camera.


  1. I'll send my pix, if you post yours!
    We will talk SOON! What a nice tale of triumph over adversity!

  2. This sounds like a rough week but I hope you get more accustomed to your kids' crazy expectations and the schedule in the next week or two. :)

  3. Thanks mum, and thanks Ben. No doubt things will calm down in the next few weeks...

  4. I'm glad your week turned around!! It sounds like you handled the stress really well. I hope this week has started off well for you, too. :)