Meanwhile in Korea…

Hey guys I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard some updated news from me and I was pretty bad about missing last weeks post. It’s ironic too because I had just told my brother that I would be posting up every single Friday and I just missed one. But that’s the way things go sometimes. I’ve been really busy with teaching and trying to keep an active social life, but I think I should talk about current events happening to me. I will still talk about the Japan trip (I have one last Blogs to write before I’m done talking about that and right now it’s looking like a pretty short blog) but I want to change gears and talk about the here and now.

Yesterday was the first day of monsoon season. That means that for the next three to four weeks (until possibly the next two months) we will have either torrential downpour or cloudy overcasted skies. But one thing is for sure it will be hot muggy and humid.  Today I swore I could drink the moisture from the air. I was almost relieved when it started raining and I was without an umbrella, because at least the water was cool. It came at just the perfect time. I just purchased my bike. So unless I want to ride a bike with one hand and steer with the other it’s pretty much just going to rust in the bike shed of my apartment.

Teaching is getting easier and easier the more I do it. I suppose it’s the fact that I’m not technically  real teacher here. I only see my kids once a week and I’m prety much in charge of getting the kids to speak in class. They have regular english teachers that drill them on reading, writing, grammar, etc. So my job is usually just to find interesting way to make the kids take what they’ve learned and actually use it as opposed to making them cram and fill in blanks on a test.

The first time I realized this was with my after school class. Once every week after school I get a handful of students who voluntarily sit in a classroom with me for 90 and expect me to teach them more. The only problem is, they’re more apt to sleep than actually participate, so unless you’re doing something fun or rewarding them you’re practically talking to yourself for an hour and a half. But one day the computer wasn’t working so I couldn’t show my lesson. So I started off by playing a game. What you do is you take any word…Lets Say Elephant. Elephant ends with T so you have to come up with a word that starts with T, like Toilette. And then a word that starts with E and so on. I made the kids do this while I got things set up and I said if they can get 50 words on the board playing this game that all had 6 letters or more they would all get a piece of candy.

Needless to say…they all got candy. Not all the words are spelled right but they surpassed what I asked for and put 60 words up on the board. I was pretty impressed. And these kids are supposedly the beginners.

I think I’ve gotten pretty good at coming up with new lessons and making them more interesting. I think I’ve always liked coming up with games and fun activities, but being an adult made actually finding people to play them with a little difficult. I suppose being an overgrown 15 year old really helps when you’re job is interacting with15 year olds all day.

Just to give you an example, one of my latest lesson plans was teaching advice. In the text book this was little more than telling people what to do and slapping “You should” at the beginning of it. My teaching partner ad I brainstormed some ways to teach it and although we decided on a pretty casual reading advice letters from kids their age and giving them advice I wanted to do something else, something more fun. In my free time I played around and made a PowerPoint game called Advice Adventure. The kids loved it.

It did so well i decided to put it online for other teachers to use since many of the schools teach on the same time frame. It was downloaded almost 600 times.  I got about two pages of feed back and here are some of the responses.

“I used this in my Making Wishes and Giving Advice class today. It went over great!  Thanks for the hard work! Cheers!”

“Brilliant game – just used this with my gr2’s after using the introductory ppt attached to give the basic terms etc (I found that some of them came up with some pretty funny answers to the question – “What should I do?” on most of the pictures !!!) I then followed this up with the game –  They really enjoyed it. Co-teacher wants a copy !!!!! Thanks for posting”

“This went over well with most of my 1st years. Giving students more control is definitely more engaging”

“This is great! I played it with my students the other day for revision and one of them told me that he loved it so much he searched for it on the internet when he got home! Of course he couldnt find it and he was heart broken when he came to class the next day!!!!!”

“My students Wah-ed and Oo-ed and then one of them squealed, “SEXAAAAY!” at the girls. It was my lowest level, unmotivated class, and they really go into it. “Teacher, ONE MORE TIME! PLEASE-EE!” Yup, even with kids, sex sells. lol”

If you have powerpoint you can check out the game here.

Im getting pretty good at presenting the boring lessons in the text book. I hid a camera in my classroom and tried to catch  what little I could.

UPDATE: This is the full video. It has everything in it. But it’s not very long. Only about 4 minutes. I couldn’t record all of the students and I missed some of the best classes. But this is still a nice peek inside my classroom.

I think the kids are reacting pretty well to me as well. I forgot to post these before but they’re two letters from my students. The wrote it to me a while ago on this holiday called Teacher’s day.

Yes, I blocked out some of the names to protect my identity and the kids identity too. But I just couldn’t resist the drawing one of the kids made of me. So I’ll let it slide. The only real image of my face on the entire site.

I’d say my job is doing well here (aside from the fact that I’m still terrible with paperwork), but I’d be lying if i said I didn’t think about home everyday. Sometimes I get pretty depressed when I think about all that I left behind in America. I think about my niece and my nephew growing into adults and my mother and father growing older. I think about the relationships that were broken when I came here, that will probably never be completely fixed due mostly in part to my proximity from those people. I think about my friends and family moving on and living their lives without me, hell I’ve already missed a near suicide attempt, a wedding, and a miraculous 300 pound physical transformation  and haven’t even been here 6 months. Truly time moves on with or without us.

But as I see all you’re lives moving in different directions back at home I look at mine and I know I am where I need to be right now. Teaching is not going to be a career move for me. I know that much, but right now it works. And at the very least it’s helping me to see the world. (I’m going on vacation this summer in Bangkok, Thailand)

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5 Responses to Meanwhile in Korea…

  1. Vivian says:

    Echo, you are blessed to have these experiences — and we are blessed that you are willing to share them. I am new to your adventures, but I remember the myriad of emotions I experienced when my family was stationed in Japan for three solid years. In the end, you might be surprised at how much your current culture rubs off on you. When my family finally returned stateside, I felt like a stranger in my home country! Things change so quickly. Continue to be fully present where you are and keep up the good work! Not everyone could do what you are doing. Your family must be very proud of you. — Cousin V.

  2. Marty says:

    Very nice, Echo. I enjoyed reading the letters your students sent you. Miss you, my man!

  3. Marty says:

    I re-read the blog and it really is great to see your progress. We have not forgotten about you, and I’m sure you and Tim are still very close. I’m really happy you’re living you life and seeing the world. I’m sure this experience will have a great impact on your growth as a man. I really enjoyed seeing the video and reading your letters. Hope to hear from you soon.

  4. Deloris says:

    Ryan, this was one of my favorite blogs. I enjoyed the letters written to you and the video was GREAT!!!. Probably because I heard your voice. You were very enthusiastic and seemed to be having as much fun as the students. You are also learning how to capture important aspects for the camera. Good starting ground for the profession for which you aspire— the movie industry. Your Advice Game may have some potential for further development. Like Marty, I see your growth. Remember you are learning and developing from your experiences. I know you think about home often and miss us, but know that we think about you all the time and miss you. You are not being left out of our lives, but moving along with us as we carry you in our heart and mind. One day, we will see you and all that you have become due to your experiences, but you will always be our beloved son. Love, Mom

  5. Rajean (Your Niece) says:

    I would have to agree with Grandma, this is my favorite blog. I like the letters they wrote. I wish I could see the video but my connection is really bad. Hope your having the time of your life. Love Rajean!

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