Friday, July 25, 2014

Moving on and moving out

“Stand! You’ve got a cross to bear
There are things to go through if you’re going anywhere”
-Sly and the Family Stone

My plans for Korea have taken a sharp detour in the past week. See below for the soundtrack to this post, too.

After three years at the high school and the girls middle school, I'm transferring from Gimhwa. Such a choice did not come easily. It came suddenly and it wasn't entirely my choice, but it had to be done. At first, I was angry at the sudden change because I’d been reflecting on how to improve for next year, but after some deep reflection, moving on represents the best choice. Though I had some excellent classes and coteachers, some unresolved problems loomed ahead for several classes, and it’s best to move before they get worse. I had actually considered transferring earlier this year, but thought it best to stay. At the time, I couldn’t justify moving. Now I can.

I am transferring to either another school in my county, or to another county in Gangwon-do. It's likely that I can move across the county to Sincheorwon and take over for Jaquie, who's transferring to the east coast. I've visited her school and met the teachers and administrators there; it's a good school. Moving there would allow me to continue serving as District Coordinator, a position that's challenging yet edifying. EPIK's making changes and this group of teachers is dedicated to making them happen. They work hard and care deeply about their students. It's a privilege to work with them.

However likely staying in Cheorwon County is, it isn't certain. I may be placed in another county. It all depends. The Head Coordinator will be notifying all the transferring teachers of their placements in the coming days. He knows about my situation here. He’s a fair man, but of course, he can’t promise anything. If I have to move somewhere else in Gangwon-do, it’ll mean a brand-new school and a new area. Being away from Cheorwon won’t be easy, but I’ll take the challenge, should it happen.

Now is not the time to wallow in worry, but to prepare for the future. My contract ends in 30 days, so time is tight. By this time next August, I will have:
  • Attended this weekend’s International Tesol Academy workshop at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul.
  • Taught an hour-long conversation class with ~10 1st grade high schoolers.
  • Taken a vacation to China with R.
  • Turned 28 years old.
  • Moved to another town or county
The next month will test the time-management skills. The conversation class marks the last of my major responsibilities at Gimhwa High. It should go well, for the 1st graders worked hard all semester. I’ll miss them. The semester went well, but this class means we can finish on a high note. I’m eager to experiment with some new lesson ideas and learning strategies. More on that in future posts...

I've enjoyed my time teaching here. It's been challenging and edifying. I've grown personally and professionally since arriving here in August 2011. I’ve taught some excellent students. Saying goodbye to them this week has been difficult. Emotional doesn’t begin to describe the students’ reaction. At least I’ll be able to visit Wasu and Gimhwa in the future. It consoled them, but only so much.

Now it’s time to apply everything I’ve learned to a new school. Like Bob Dylan sang, “Strike another match, go start anew.” Starting fresh at a new school, with new students, coteachers, and administrators sounds an exciting way to spend 2014-2015 in Korea.

Moving will entail plenty of work, but we’ve already begun getting the place ready. R has been understanding and helpful. She has her own camps and classes to do, but she's making time to help me. I can't thank her enough for her help and support.

More posts are on the way….

Soundtrack to this post:

Link Wray’s cover of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

Sly and the Family Stone’s “Stand.”

Motorhead’s "Live to Win."

Minor Threat's "Salad Days."

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