Friday, February 27, 2009

Who wants to hear a funny story?

Well, it's not so much funny, as just ruefully amusing, and sadly indicative of the organization level present in the schools here. So I may have (or may not have) mentioned that I'm doing extra English classes at the elementary school this year. Basic (1st-3rd) and Advanced (4th-6th); two classes each per week. I'd done some research to find a suitable textbook to use. Dan, the teacher who was here before me, helped me pick out a good one: English Time, I think it's called. Nothing too complicated, just some fun activities and a decent phonics section, since I'd be working with disparate age groups and needed something to (try to) keep them all involved in the lesson. I emailed my coteacher about it a week ago, and I figured we'd start probably on March 10... not the first week when everyone's getting settled in, but, y'know, soon. School starts on the 2nd, by the way. Anywho, I'm just trying to give you a gauge for the amount of time and thought and whatnot I'd put into this little side project, which, keep in mind, the school specifically asked me to do. Not an immense amount, but enough that I felt prepared to get started whenever they asked me to.

Well, I'm at school right now for the start of the term teachers' meeting. Which, of course, I can't understand. I did introduce myself, and meet the new teachers... all 4 of them. In an elementary school with 8 teachers. K-6 plus one English teacher. Yay for turnover! Ha... anyway, we went through the whole dog and pony show of the meeting, me sitting there and smiling like a simpleton, which I pretty much am, since I don't understand what's going on when people talk. And after the meeting, my coteacher comes up to me and asks me how I'd like to schedule the English classes. Not the extra ones that I'd been preparing for, mind you, but the regular school classes. And I said, "mhu-huh-what-now?" Turns out, I have to keep doing those 6 classes a week with the new native English teacher, all on Mondays now. Since I have, you know, the job I was hired to do the rest of the week. Did I want to do two 5th grade classes in a row, followed by two 6th grade classes in a row? "Come again?" Um, this, my friends, is not my department. My qualifications to be setting your class schedule are spotty at best, right? Whoo-ee... what a morning. I decided that I didn't want to teach the same class for an hour and a half straight... the way I figure it, even in college I'd get bored sitting in the same room doing the same shit for that long, and these kids don't have near the attention span that your average college student possesses... I mean, I think. Right? Hell, I have no idea what I'm talking about. So now I'm doing on Mondays: 5th, 6th, 3rd, 4th, lunch, 5th, 6th. And then Tue-Fri at the Global Center. At least this will break up my routine a little bit, and (hopefully) I won't get so bored doing the same thing 5 days a week. You know, cause 4 is so much better. It's a solid foundation. Rooms have 4 sides. Bad things happen in 3's, and the pentagram is for the devil. So this is really the best solution. Besides, the tetragrammaton has 4 letters, so that's gotta count for something, right?

Oh, but this isn't even the best part. I got all caught up in that story and forgot what incited me to sit down and post this in the first place. So, the extra classes: after discussing the regular class schedule, my coteacher says, "Oh, and by the way, I think you will not have to teach the extra classes this year."

And that's the end of the story. All that work and research I put into finding a decent textbook: useless. All my worry about what I was going to teach these kids, and how I'd make it interesting, and what I'd do for 2 classes a week for an entire effing school year: needless. So, the bad news is that I wasted a lot of time and effort and stress thinking about something that I'm now not doing. The good news is that I'm now not doing it. And I can devote more time to working out, studying my own foreign languages, etc. Which rocks, when I think about it. I just can't believe that it got to this point with me in the dark, and them having no real idea what they were going to do... BOO! But whatever; every cloud has a silver lining... and this one's more like platinum. Everything works out in the end, I guess. At least, if I ever in the future need a decent textbook to teach English to small Korean children, I have one in mind. =)

Oh, and in case you were wondering why I'm not teaching the extra classes, it's because they'd have to pay me to do it. And there's a military base nearby who will provide an English teacher for free. Yay capitalism...

1 comment:

emily said...

Ha, that's so Korean. Of course they would love for you to work as long as they don't have to pay you.

If you ever need too, English Time is a pretty good book. Each chapter has vocab, grammar, phonetics and something else that I can't remember, maybe a dialog.

at least if they're letting you schedule your classes, it means that they value your presence at the school. Like you're a real teacher as opposed to an english speaking entertainer. (Which I felt like often. Sometimes I thought that a monkey with good pronunciation might have been more welcome at my job.)