Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pee All You Can Be.... I mean, be all you can be!

In my attempts to blind out all of the horrid U.S. financial crisis news breaks, I have been satisfying my sweet spot for cute things- as usual, right? But seriously, my day to day life here in Korea has been becoming increasingly centered around how I can become a better teacher and keep my classes under order and control.

My day to day life consists of waking at 8 a.m. and getting ready, arriving at school by 9:30 a.m. and teaching 8 screaming, squirming, crying, hitting, and teasing Korean preschoolers. If I can get through my morning with out my little one, Jinha, crying, and without my bulky bruiser, Brave punching and screaming, it is a great day. My morning would be greater still if Alice didn't grab at everything like a spoiled brat. At this age, the greed of a child is just tremendous. My attempts to teach kids to share has turned to me allowing each child one crayon at a time and they have to ask "Green please!" and "Thank you!" each time they want a new color. I look forward to the day when I can get them to work together and share with one another without behaving like rabid dogs at a steakhouse.

At 1:30, the pre-schoolers head home and I have an hour and a half to prepare for my afternoon classes. I write the day's schedule out, photocopy worksheets, write quizzes, and grade super boring practice books. At about 2:40, the elementary school kids come tromping into the hallways like a heard of wild beasts. Hey, at least they are excited to be there, right? At 3:00, I enter my first grade class that I have everyday. I have got some real characters in those first grade classes, I tell ya! I have the typical teacher's pet/ know-it-all kid, the beyond hell troublemaker, the lovable and smart chubby kid, the ditzy but cute girl, and the snotty nosed kid that keeps giving teacher hugs. I keep handing her tissue hoping she can wipe away some of the green goo and spare me!!!

I actually have 2 first grade classes I teach everyday, right in a row!!!! The second one is just as interesting as the first, I assure you. My typical day consists of balancing out teaching with crowd control. Lately, the inner Hitler has come out in me as I have learned exactly what is acceptable form of punishment here in Korea. Lets just say the methods of disipline used here in Korea would cause the average teacher in America to be sued backwards and forwards. I have been told by fellow teachers as well as students that humiliation is a very popular form of punishment. So humiliation it is!

The nice thing about this tactic is that it both punishes the kid by embarrassing him in front of his peers and makes me come off as a bit of a circus ringleader and therefore more entertaining than strict and militarian. My approach thus far has lead me to putting Michael, the class menace, in the front of the room with his book for 2 days straight. He was not to look at others and was to stay on the correct page in the book and keep his book up at all times. I instructed his classmates to inform me if he made faces at them or bothered them in anyway. On the third day, he knew not to bother anyone and was actually kind of a pleasant kid! I just have to break his spirit a bit like a show pony I guess. Just like training a dog!

After my 2 first grade classes, I either teach 2 classes of 4th graders, which are pure gold and probably smarter than me, or "Gifted and Talented" 3rd graders, a mixed group of genius and idiot. Some of the 3rd graders are writing essays and getting perfect scores in everything, and others can barely write their name and speak in English soo broken that it hurts my ears. I am convinced that unless I somehow play the role of Michelle Pfeiffer in "Dangerous Minds," some of my third graders are doomed to be working at Dunkin' Donuts and living in a van by the river sometime in thier future. I don't know.

Here are some "Rewards" that I got for the kids that have done their book reports and survived the first month of the semester at Poly School. The marshmallows are for my pre-schoolers who just totally rock my world, regardless of the fact that they behave like lower level primates at times. I have to cut them some slack, they are like 5 years old and English is their second language!!!!!

My booo-tay has been killing me from using this hard old chair for a computer chair for a month and a half so I splurged for a crazy cute pastel bear pillow for my ass. Ahhhh cuteness! His little thought bubble is thinking about honey. And I am thinking about Honey Nut Cheerios! Ha ha!

I am sooo happy to have a job that is rewarding that does not consist of manual labor or selling something. In the land of cute cheap things, yummy food, and my adorable Korean students, it can't get any better than this!!! (Well, actually, it can and will get better as the adventure continues. Everyday just totally rocks and I am ever grateful for that.)