Saturday, December 29, 2012

The last day of school

[I wrote this on Friday, 28 December and didn't get a chance to post it until today]

Today marks the last day of the regular school year. I'll be reviewing the year in a future post. Until then here's some thoughts on the week:

--One great thing about teaching is that no two days are ever exactly the same. Today's the same way. I arrived for the first class and found and empty dark classroom. The kids were nowhere to be found. Not even Mr. Kim knew. After asking around and talking to Mrs. J, we learned that the kids were off doing a music class or kind of special program. None of us knew about the change until class time. As I've said, this happens all too often here: schedules change at a moment's notice and hardly anyone seems to know what's happening until it actually happens. As it turned out, the first class got rescheduled for fourth period. They should up and all worked out well.

All of these changes are still surprising after 16 months here. I've found it hard to believe that things can run as smoothly as they do amid all the changes, but it's true. Would this work in the States? Probably not. I came out of the American style of having schedules set from the beginning of the year with plenty of advance notice on events or special schedules. I like that because it allows for more daily consistency and causes less disruptions to the routine. Routine's important to the students because it allows them to focus more on their studies. It also cuts down on time spent explaining changes or nuances in the schedule. Dealing with this gets stressful at times, but I don't let it get to me. The classroom is full of surprises anyway and I daresay I do okay with handling them. School life works similarly. Something strange will always happen. The best way is to keep calm and find a way to enjoy it. In today's case, the scheduling change meant another learning experience and time to read the paper.

For any new arrivals in Korea, please remember that the days bring plenty of surprises. Try not to worry too much about it. Smile and carry on.

On another note, I caught a girl talking on her phone while I was addressing the class [HS grade 2] at the beginning of the period today. There she was, in the middle of my quick speech about how the students had gotten better over the year and how much fun we'd had, sneaking in a phone call. Sneaking in a phone call--to who? Who could she possibly be calling at 10:25am besides her mother? I couldn't believe it. Such blatant disrespect hadn't happened in class since the Custer days. I stopped mid-sentence and stared at her. "진짜?!" [Really?!] came out of my mouth. She took no notice and carried on with her blank expression. A second passed and I went back to talking. She ought to have known better. I know that it's not ideal to talk too much at the end of the year, but I felt the kids needed to hear that they'd done well. I don't know if I'll teach them when they move on to 3rd grade, so today represented what may end up as our last class together. Should I have done more about the phone? Yes, I should have. Oh well. It's over and done with now. Lesson learned for next time.

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