Back to School
Here are some things that happened in my first week teaching at a Korean elementary school:
- My first day was a complete shambles. I had the bright idea of getting all the kids to make their own nametags. But I didn’t realise that most of the kids don’t know how to write the alphabet. I then dicked around for ages looking for pens and paper because I didn’t know where everything was. I also didn’t realise that the last two classes were a double period for the same group, so I was 40 mins short on lesson plans. Instead, I made up a game using a Bomb animation and sound where they chuck my toy koala at each other and have to say something in English before time’s up. Luckily, they loved it and don’t know how that their English teacher was thinking “ummm what do I do now?” the whole time.
- My co-workers are very nice. They give me lifts home from the school and constantly offer me biscuits, fruit and tea. I’m okay with this.
- I was worried about how kids and teachers would react to a Korean Aussie who couldn’t speak Korean. I didn’t want to tell everybody that I was adopted. But luckily, nobody asked too many questions. Koreans mainly just want to ask if I’d ever seen a koala. (And the answer is yes – there was a koala family briefly living in my parents’ backyard!)
- Trying not to show that your nose is running from spicy Korean cafeteria food in front of kids calmly munching on chillis is quite difficult.
- One of the admin guys dared me to eat said chilli, dipped in gochujang – red pepper paste. The other teachers screamed. I did it anyway. It wasn’t too bad, though my nose turned into a fountain.
- A video of the “Alphabet Dance” has been circulating throughout the TaLK Scholars with stories of great success. So I tried it with my Grade 1&2s. They loved it. And watching tiny kids dance is adorable.
- You can make kids learn anything if you turn it into a game. I made my Grade 1&2s murderously competitive over an alphabet relay game and felt very proud of myself.
- My Grade 3&4s are very naughty. They’re mostly girls and one big sassy girl gang who are constantly fighting with the few boys in the class.
- The TaLK lecturer was right – kids LOVE gifs. My introduction featuring gifs of Australian animals was such a hit that all the kids screamed with laughter and a kid asked me how to spell “kangaroo” afterwards.
- I introduced a stamp system for when the kids answer questions. They love Rilakkuma stamps.
- Korean kids are very smart, but just as hyperactive as any other kid in the world. They’ll jump on chairs, steal their friends’ pencil cases and run away, try to steal my stamps and fight each other.
- On the other hand, they’re also very sweet. When I arrive at school, I’m greeted to a chorus of “Hello Teacher!”. One of my (naughty) Grade 4s ran up to me and hugged me between classes. I feel like a rockstar.