Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Changes every semester

Day 1 of the 2013 school year: 4 March 2013

Every school semester is different here. The past three semesters have seen three different teaching schedules, three different co-teaching schemes, and three different sets of co-teachers. If there’s there’s one thing to emphasize about the teaching life here, it’s be ready for change at every turn. It’s no use fighting the changes or pining for the old days; just press on and adapt to whatever’s thrown at you. This semester brings more changes, but apart from school starting next week, there are only a few things I know for sure:
  • No teaching 3rd grade HS
  • JB as main co-teacher for 3rd semester in a row.
  • All the MS classes will take place on Thursday and Friday mornings
  • Two new HS co-teachers
  • Mr. Choi and Mrs. Jeong (both HS English teachers) are leaving

It’s been like this every semester thus far: No one knows anything until the last minute. No one’s mentioned anything about what the timetable will look like or how the co-teaching scheme will go down. The scheme doesn’t matter too much since it hasn’t changed much since August 2011: I run the classes and the coteachers back me up. This translates to designing the lessons and leading the classes while they provide whatever translations or backup that may necessary. It’s around 60/40 in MS and 85/15 in HS.

I’ll miss working with Mrs. Jeong, for we had plenty of fun teaching the HS 1st graders. We taught that joint double Korean/Chinese class together and helped the kids write excellent comparison paragraphs. She brought in many effective writing activities that we used throughout the year. I remember how hesitant she looked about when she first asked about them. She said she didn’t want to burden me with them because they were to be part of upcoming standardized tests. Burden? For this certified English teacher? Of course not! I jumped on those activities and we all had a good time. I’d been eager to more writing work with the students and was happy to see another teacher interested in it as well. The writing focus actually boosted the students’ speaking abilities because they had more practice with using English and forming sentences.*

Despite the uncertainties, I’m going to make this the best semester yet. The past semesters have been good, but this one will be even better. We’ve a good group of kids coming through the ranks. Not only that, but I’ve a better understanding about how school works and can roll with changes more easily. This past month’s proven good for revamping lessons and getting the goals laid out for the new semester. I now have the first couple weeks of classes drafted and ready to roll. The fun begins Monday!

*Expect a future post about this stuff.

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