Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Day!

Today was the first day that I forgot my camera.  For everything.
I know, I know.  I feel terrible. But, don't worry, I intend to awkwardly photograph everything tomorrow (which will be virtually the same day, but at the Sinback campus).
I woke up at my usual 6am (that's the easiest way tto insure contact with family).  I talked with Mom on Skype for a very long time and Ian and I tried out our oatmealish breakfast grain that we bought at Lotte Mart.  It was pretty good; in fact, it tastes pretty similar to oatmeal.  The texture is somewhere between rice and oats, though.  Next time we'll use the rice cooker.  After breakfast, Ian and I went jogging.  We couldn't run in the field below, because there was school in session and we didn't want to impose.  Instead, we ran down the street and around the neighborhood.  At one point, we chose a random stone footpath and found a mini Buddha temple.  I will photograph him tomorrow.  An old man out tending his farm watched us slowly make our way down the path.
We finished our jog and came back to the apartment to get ready for work.  Tina called while Ian was still in the shower to tell us that she would meet us out front in twenty minutes to help me with the buses.  We went to the bus stop with Tina and the 506 bus came almost immediately.  Tina and I boarded and left Ian hoping for the right bus at the stop (don't worry, he made it).  Ha So is across town from where we live, but the bus ride wasn't quite fifteen minutes.  Jecheon is very small.  
Julia was at the campus when I arrived.  She was surprised that I was so early.  I don't know why she was surprised because it was her who insisted that I take the 12:10 bus to a job that doesn't begin until 1:30.  I was shown to my desk, which is wonderful to have (there's a shelving unit, too, for al lmy "materials"), but there is a limited number of computers, so the kids need to use "mine," too.  
My first class was Basic 1, a lower level class.  As soon as I sat down to look over my lesson plans (I'll give a sampling below), Julia came in and told me that she was very sorry, but there had been a big mistake.  The kids in my Basic 1 class "had been given" the Red Book while we were told to produce lesson plans for Yellow.  I'm not sure what happened, but I gave my kids their books today, so there is no way that the kids had previously prepared something else.  At any rate, I made a new lesson plan for the class.  Tina sat with me for most of my prep time.  She was very reluctant to leave me when she had to.  It seems she may be our first (and only for the time being) Korean friend.
Simplified Sample Lesson Plan (for a younger class):
Greeting/Intro:  Hello!  My name is Casey and I am from Washington state in the USA. 
Write day, date and weather on the board, ask the students how the weather is.
Use roll call sheet to write students names on the board.  Ask how each on is feeling today.  Draw corresponding smiley next to their name.  Draw smiley next to your name.
Use ball to play catch and practice asking "What's your name?"  "My name is____."
Tongue twisters.  Write the Tt on board, read aloud to class, read aloud as a class and then choose one student to read it/ them aloud.
...Then you go through the book doing lessons and activities on colors, prepositions or whatever is in the unit for the day.  The books leave a lot to be desired especially since we are missing things like audio tapes and workbooks.  Hopefully as we become more practiced, Ian and I will come up with more games, activities and lessons ourselves and just use the books as guidelines for what they should be learning.  We get very mixed signals about what they want from us, so it is difficult to be confident.
I went to the restroom before classes started and discovered that this campus has traditional toilets, nay, troughs  They flush, so, it's not so bad, unless you are in a hurry.  Not to be gross, but my Westernized muscles just aren't designed to pee squatting all that easily.  And, throw a 'win' Mom's way.  In Korea you should probably bring toilet paper to public restrooms.  Sometimes they have it, mostly they don't.
Basic 1 began at 2:30 and went without a hitch, as did everything else.  I had one kid in that class who did not want to speak and obviously did not want to be there, but most of the kids seemed interested.
There are a few frustrating things about working for Yoon's English School.  The first is that you do not get a lunch break everyday.  There is one day during the week that you have an hour break (Tuesday for me).  In today's case, I got no break at all.  There are ten minutes between each class, but any recent college grad can tell you how quickly that disapears.  Especially when it's difficult to dismiss your class.  For some reason, many of the students have difficulty understanding that they are free to go at the end of class.  So, I quickly gobbled one of the raisin candies I had brought, but that's all I managed to eat.  I'll have to figure that out.  Also, it seems that these kids have hardly (or never) seen or heard their English names before.  Ian wondered if maybe the school just drew them from a hat.  I had several student's whose English name changed on the roll sheet as soon as they arrived.  It's difficult to communicate with kids when they are uncertain of their name.  Lastly, I had late students in every class.  So, I would have to start a class of 7 with 4 or so students.  That makes it very difficult to keep everyone engaged.  Two of my students were nearly 30 minutes late.
I definitely had a favorite student today.  She was in my Essential 1 class.  If I remember correctly, her English name was Ann.  Her English was very good and she had a sense of humor that Grant's will probably be similar to.  She was about ten.  It was nice to have a student who could tease lightly back and forth.  Really, I enjoyed her company.
At the end of the day I was told that the buses were no longer running and that I had to take a taxi.  Kim (principle) hailed a cab for me (they don't let us do much ourselves right now), and she had me sit in the front seat.  I was so uncomfortable.  First of all, any saavy traveller knows that women shouldn't ride in cabs alone, let alone sit in the front seat.  But, it was all okay, excpept for paying cab fare, of course.
I got home first and started dinner.  Tonight we recreated the broth/rice dish that we had at the Vietnamese place.  It turned out well.
Tonight we are celebrating our survival as our first day as teachers.  Teachers with a weekends worth of training.
Good times!
To answer your question, Rob, yes the Diet (Light) Cokes and Coke Zeros here taste the way they do at home.  And in Spain.  :)  I find comfort in that small piece of consistency.  It's a little pricey, though. I can't wait until we get paid (Oct. 10) and we can go to Costco.
Tomorrow we start all over at different campuses.  I'll carry my camera and maybe I'll even take a picture of one of my classes if I'm allowed.


  1. Ew. I don't even want to imagine the toilets. I think I would have some accidents in the bathroom, for sure.
    And, how are you late to classes in grade school?

  2. Well, it's a private school that they go to after normal school. Korean students have all sort of things they do after school (language, music, etc.). But, I am not sure. It was the first day, maybe the parents were unsure of the schedule.
    The toilets are a little iffy. I'm going to try to avoid them if I can.

  3. Ha! I remember those toilets from when I was there. I have nothing against doing the squat outdoors but we're not used to having to aim in this country. Biggest lesson I learned the hard way...gather up all your clothes, including pulling pants up above ankles, before assuming the position.