My head hurts, my back hurts, my feet hurt… obviously today was my first full day of teaching!
In the morning I was a little stressed out, because I had only gotten half a day to shadow the teacher I was replacing, so I didn’t know what we were supposed to do in the morning. Luckily I found that he had left me a word document explaining the morning routine.
In the morning from 10-2:30, I teach my Kindergarten class. They are the highest level Kindergarten, which means that they can pretty much understand everything I say. But even with that, they are still kids. It was hard to keep them under control because they don’t yet have as much respect for me as they did for their other teacher (who was a guy, don’t know if that matters but I feel like it makes me that much less intimidating).
Overall though, they were pretty good and the day wasn’t too bad. I think it’s good that I spent time working at an American elementary school too so I can make the comparison, because Korean students are better behaved than American students by a long shot.
There was one little boy who was absolutely fascinated by my hair for some reason. First he came up and smelled it and then he called me spaghetti hair and tried to put my hair in his mouth which I was obviously not too thrilled about. He kept doing this at random times during the day. Also all through the day the kids kept randomly touching me because they were so excited that I was brown. So that was interesting.
I also experienced my first major difference between Korean and American attitudes toward children. I serve my class lunch, and during lunch one of the Korean teachers told me that I needed to move one of the boys because he was sitting too close to another boy and they would distract each other. So after lunch, I told one of the girls to switch seats with him, and she started crying. In an American school if one of the kids starts crying for a ridiculous reason like that, you usually go on with class and they will stop when not given attention. Apparently this is not so in Korea. She kept on crying and crying and then the Korean teacher pulled her out of class while looking at me like I was literally the spawn of Satan for not snuggling her and making her feel better. It kind of annoyed me because I only moved the girl in the first place because that same teacher told me to, but whatever. Eventually the girl came back to class and was still sullen but I kept ignoring it and eventually she forgot she was ever upset and went back to being happy.
In the afternoon on MWF, I teach 5 classes ranging in age from 8-16. The biggest problem I had with this was running out of time. In the Kindergarten we make our own lesson plans, but the Elementary program is very structured. I was told repeatedly to elaborate on the material given for each day for the entire class instead of playing games. However, I found out today that each day the classes are only assigned about 2-6 pages of work, which takes them 30 minutes max and sometimes less. Each class is between 40 minutes-an hour, so in every single class I ended up making up random activities to fill time because it was just impossible for me to stretch the work for that long. Now that I know the content is short I will know to bring word searches and such, but it was pretty stressful trying to come up with random activities off the top of my head with no supplies, especially for the one class I have that really can’t understand English at all.
So yeah. I know I’ll like it given another few weeks, but the first day was crazy stressful. 10am-7pm is a very very long day, especially without much preparation (since I only got a 1/2 day of orientation). But it was a learning experience, and the next few days will be easier. Tuesday and Thursday I only teach until 4:30, and Wednesday we have the morning off for a Korean holiday so I don’t have to work until 2:30.
After work I went out for dinner (McDonalds… don’t judge…) with one of my coworkers and she repeatedly assured me that it gets easier. Right now I’m so exhausted that I can’t imagine how I could possibly work this much for an entire year, but I know I’ll adjust. Also we went to some Korean skin care stores and I bought lotion and body wash, and got like 10 samples of random skin products. It was fun!
Something random about Korea is that they don’t sell Diet Coke here. Or if they do, I haven’t seen it anywhere. They sell regular Coke and Coke Zero, but Diet Coke is nowhere to find. I guzzle Diet Coke like a monster usually, so this’ll take some adjustment.
Tomorrow I have to turn in my first lesson plan, and I haven’t finished it yet. So even though it’s 10pm and I’m absolutely dead from teaching, I still have to stay up and do work. Everyone told me that working at a hagwon would be a lot of work, but I had no idea how much. So I’m off to finish that I guess! Thanks to everyone who wished me luck on fb today, I really appreciated it :-)