First Week: March 2-6

On a scale of 1-10, crazy and overwhelming are a 4. This week was a 10. I won’t bore you with every little detail, but here are some snippets both good and bad:

  1. I have a new student (5 or 6 years old), who is really shy with the Korean teachers, and frightened of foreigners. She has cried every morning.
  2. One boy and one girl have a love-hate relationship, depending on how the girl is feeling (again, 5 or 6 year olds). Example: He helped her open her book, and she threw a fit and ran to the corner.
  3. Some students call me “Pumpkin teacher” or “Taylor teacher.” Pumpkin teacher was funny the first 3 times. Now I hate pumpkins. Taylor was the name of a previous teacher, whom I’ve never met. But apparently she had blond hair and was Canadian, so we’re the same.
  4. It is possible to screw up the milk-to-cereal ration during snack time.
  5. Also, your tray can be upside down, and the rice and soup on the wrong sides (rice is bottom left, soup is bottom right, sides are on top).
  6. A five-year-old boy busting out “Mamma Mia” during lunchtime is one of the cutest things I’ve ever witnessed.
  7. The same five-year-old busting out Bruno Mars’ “I think I wanna marry you” the next day is even cuter. He can barely hold a spoon, and has trouble speaking fluently, but he sings Bruno Mars better than I do.
  8. Gimbap (kimbop) looks like a burrito, but you’re a fool if you eat it like one. Use chopsticks!
  9. One class (4-5 year olds) was playing in the gym, and decided to play hide-and-seek. There aren’t many places to hide, and one student was just lying facedown on the floor, beneath a bench. But his body was perpendicular to the bench, so only his head was covered. Another girl was just sitting on the floor, covering her face.
  10. And the big one, my schedule: From 9-10, I get my classroom ready. From 10-3, I run around and sing and dance, wash hands, give snacks, cover reading, writing, and social studies classes, feed students lunch, monitor teeth brushing, and keep a smile on my face. From 3-7 (There is no break, that is correct), I teach four classes. The classes are the same on Mon/Wed/Fri and Tues/Thurs. So four classes, 3-7pm, M-F…20 classes/week. BUT WAIT, there’s more. Since the MWF students are the same, and the TTH students are the same, it comes out to eight classes. But those classes have different subjects depending on the day. Eight classes and…I don’t know. More than eight subjects. Well, let me explain that a little more. They might be the same subject (reading or writing), but they are all different levels with different books. So some students are at a fairly high level and doing a reading class isn’t that bad. But some are just beginning and can barely speak, and we are doing a writing class. So each day, I’m teaching four different classes AFTER five and a half hours of preschool/Kindergarten lessons. If you’re confused, multiply that by 20, add mental and physical exhaustion, and a language barrier.

I came home Tuesday and Wednesday night and cried. I tried to stay positive, telling myself it will get easier, but I lost it. Everyone at the school is very helpful and friendly, but it is still a lot to take in. There are some new Korean teachers as well, and they are just as confused and overwhelmed as I am. It’s comforting knowing I’m not alone, but it’s still frustrating. I want to be past the “adjusting” stage already, so I can actually worry about TEACHING, and not whether my rice is in the correct spot or if I gave a student the wrong toothbrush.

For those of you that made it this far, you’re probably wondering why I accepted such a scary workload. WELLL… there is more the story, but I’ll just say that quite a bit of information was withheld during my interview, even when I asked specific questions. I guess, for future instances, I should ask for clarification of what exactly 50 hours means.

To end on a good note, Alex’s birthday was Thursday and due to us working late, we’re celebrating all weekend! Today was cupcakes and presents and PlayStation golf, tomorrow is hiking the Seoul City Wall! 

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