Friday, December 27, 2013

Reflections on the 2013 school year 3: Plans for next year

My lessons aren’t perfect. Next year will undoubtedly present more difficulties than 2013 or 2012 did. There are several reasons for this:

The more I teach, the more I need to learn

While my footing may be surer than it was two years ago and I’ve a better idea of what to teach and how to do it, that doesn't necessarily mean learning has ceased. Quite the contrary: every day brings on a series of questions. If the lesson was good, what was good about it? What can be done better? If a lesson wasn’t good, how come it wasn’t? What could have been better? Was there another way to teach the material? What about next time? These questions determine what happens next.

Also, while I may understand more about Korean culture than before, the journey continues. The more time I spend here, the more nuances come out.

Increasing coordinator duties

A new head coordinator took over in August. He’s an energetic, indefatigable man and he’s got us working on bettering the EPIK program. Admittedly, there isn’t much I can talk about here, but I’m excited about what’s to come down the road. This past year has been a good introduction to coordinating and I welcome what’s ahead in 2014.

Changes in co-teachers

One coteacher, JB, told me that he’ll be moving on to another school once this year concludes. He was here when I arrived and has been a great help both in and out of school. For a time, he was my main co-teacher, so he was in charge of business trips and any issues that arose outside of school. In every instance, he provided invaluable assistance and understood how the EPIK program worked. Moreover, he has unquenchable thirst for learning English because he’s always studying and asking questions about the expressions he comes across. His vigor’s inspiring, for it reminds me to keep studying Korean and not to get stuck doing or saying the same things over and over. He’ll be missed.

Another co-teacher’s finishing out her 5 year stint at one school and will have to move on. She’s co-taught with two other Cheorwon veterans and is another tireless learner. She too understands EPIK and will be a boon to whichever school she teaches at next because of her bright smiles and charming personality. Our conversations are a highlight of school life. But there’s a chance she’ll simply move to another of my schools because the school transfers aren’t final yet. She won’t know where she’s going until March.

My obligations borne out of time spent here.

Admittedly, I don’t know what will happen, but the trend’s been that every year means more responsibilities on the professional side. It makes sense, each year here brings a raise, so asking for more work in exchange for more money’s a fair trade in my mind.

To be sure, there’ll most likely be another night class or two as well as more record keeping to do. The night classes this semester went well because they featured a small group of high level speakers, so each lesson was more like a coffee shop chat than a formal class. I’d choose a topic, draw up some questions and vocabulary, and briefly explain them before we got going. The students simply had to follow the topic (ie, traveling) at hand and speak in English. It was a format that worked well, but for next year, I’ll be including more A/V materials as well as more opportunities for writing. I should’ve better employed their notebooks this year.

More to come later.

Also...I'd like to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas and hope everyone's enjoying the holidays.

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