Teacher’s Day – South Korea

Teacher’s Day is one of my favorite Korean holidays.  Its not just the cute notes, buckets of flowers, snacks and other assorted gifts.  Sure those help but what really makes me love Teacher’s Day is the realization of how much value Koreans have for teachers.temp_1431679395167.-504624130

There is a separate holiday where the entire country devotes itself to their teachers.  You could argue that its a Hallmark holiday (and i’m sure stationary stores love it) but there’s also a Teacher’s Day song that everyone knows and the day encourages students to visit their old teachers.

Teacher's Day Assembly.

Teacher’s Day Assembly.

This year was the first year I had actual visitors in the 2 hour block our school devoted for students to reunite with their old teachers.  Our students were dismissed after lunch while we had prep time and still got out 2 hours early.  Last year’s 4th graders came by in force dropping off the cutest hand written notes you’ve ever seen. Continue reading

My students picked this picture because…

My Korean co-teacher came up to me and asked if it was okay for the students to show me pictures.  I heard him using my name in class and then speaking Korean for the last 15 minutes but thought nothing of it.  But then they explained in English why they choose each picture specifically for me.  It was adorable and its moments like these that makes me love teaching!

yh students

Some of my favorites were:
I picked this picture because…

“You are able to teach us all day everyday” (open 24 hours)
“You love us!” (hugging polar bears)
“You teach us good things but also take away our bad things” (light & dark artistic sphere)
“You always have new ideas to help teach us” (fireworks)
“You like climbing mountains” (2 hikers)
“You have many students and like teaching” (Chinese classroom)
“You teach us and don’t care about money” (foreign currency)
“You are clean and pure.” (glass of water)
“You are perfect!” (bullseye)

Open Class – 4th grade Korean debates

Korean schools have a tradition of hosting an “open class” where parents are invited to watch a lesson.  That day was today!  Luckily my team leaders prepared a great lesson to keep things flowing smoothly across the grade.  We spent two blocks over the last few days teaching our students all about debates.

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of it we taught key terms like affirmative team, negative team, rebuttal, etc.  Since its an ESL class we gave them easy to understand definitions and easy to use phrases.  4th grade appropriate resolutions (topics) like “students should where school uniforms,” “Television is better than books,” and “schools should give everyone candy” were used to practice and gave everyone a few laughs.

Teaching key phrases was great because it was practical and easy to implement.  We taught them how to start a rebuttal, give more support for an example and use the right words to state opinions.

Open class debate 1

On the morning of the open class I reminded the students that the parents were there to watch them.  Its actually true and not just some teacher ploy to keep my students in line!  Each parent was given a checklist of items like “my son/daughter pays attention to the teacher,” “my son/daughter speaks English at all times,” or “my son/daughter keeps their hands to themselves.”

Open class debate 2

As the parents arrived there were some quiet jitters from my students but they quickly got into the zone.  I reviewed our terms and the format before starting the debates which went off without a hitch!  They argued for and against “school should be 2 hours shorter,” “homework is illegal,” and “sports & games are more important than studies.”  I was even able to snap a few pictures/videos with my school sponsored Galaxy tablet in between moderating and a few prompts.

It was a little strange to have the parents filming/taking pictures in class but they were a great audience and had nothing but praise (even if it needed to be translated) at the end.  Now back to planning the next module… and my next trip!

Korean Teacher’s Day

In Korea May 15th is national Teacher’s Day.  Typically students bring in gifts for all their teachers and write notes.  We were originally supposed to have an assembly recognizing all of us but; due to “recent sad events” that was canceled.  Some of my coworkers were even told “I wanted to bring you flowers but couldn’t because students died.”  The country is still very much in mourning regarding the Sewol Tragedy but luckily Teacher’s Day did brighten the day for many.

I had about a dozen students write adorable notes, got a bouquet, some fake flowers and a few snacks.  Most of my coworkers got a similar assortment of thanks and it truly was so nice to read all their kind words!  I love my job and love teaching but tokens of appreciation are always welcome.

So much love!

So much love!

One of my favorite letters! (from one of my best English students)

One of my favorite letters! (from one of my best English students)

2nd interview, 2nd offer, still no letter of release

Today I had  a second interview.  This one at another Hogwon but it appears to be run like an actual school.  The owner speaks English fluently, albeit with a thick accent, but everything went great in the interview.

We started off with a quick tour before he brought me into his office.  They have a beautiful gym facility and great classrooms.  Each room is a little smaller than my current school but everything else appear to be much higher quality.  Once we were in his office he spent a while explaining how he had heard good things about me and sympathized with my current predicament.  He asked to keep the details confidential so I’ll just say that he did his best to sell me on the stability and reputation of his school; and well, it worked!

The school sounds like a fantastic hogwon, the only problem, its still a hogwon.  I would get slightly better hours and pay than at my current job plus a lot more trust between employees and the administration but I still would teach Kindergarten.  I still would only get about 2 weeks of vacation and be subject to a wide variety of other restrictions.  He was not concerned about my letter of release situation I didn’t mention that I had another offer.

I then met with one of his current teachers who answered more specific questions about the curriculum (holy shit, there actually is one!), housing, teaching day, social life of teachers, etc.  He was a great guy and I could tell would be a fun coworker.  Everything he said sounded great when suddenly the owner came back in to ask me a few more questions.

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