Highs and Lows

I’ve been wavering between posting and not posting today, because everything I try to write seems redundant and uninteresting. (Possibly because I’ve already lived through it, I suppose. Also possibly because today has been a bit exhausting and my creative juices [what little I had to begin with] appear to be drained.)

I also usually try to keep my posts focused on the positive things from my day, but I don’t want to sugarcoat. Trust me, it’s not like my days consist entirely of me floating through the hallways leaving a trail of rainbows, butterflies, and lovestruck middle school boys in my wake. (Well, okay… sometimes… on the good days… for brief moments… it does feel a little bit like that. Not gonna lie.)

But there are kids who don’t respond to me. There are kids who sullenly stare at the ground while I plead with them to practice the dialogue with me one-on-one (whether it’s because they’re shy, low level, or just stubborn, I can’t be sure). There are times I say something and get blank stares until my co-teacher translates and I watch their eyes light up with understanding. There are times when I want to go crazy from trying to keep up with lesson planning. There are classes, on Mondays and Tuesdays, when I try out a new lesson for the first time and it utterly flops, and that feels horrible.

So with that said, here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from today.

High: The weather has remained cool to the point of needing a jacket some days, and I am eternally grateful for this. Daegu is known as the hottest, most humid place in Korea in the summer, so I’ll take cold/cool weather for as long as I possibly can.

Low: One of my classes that’s normally really good started to fall apart a little bit today. Not that they were being intentionally disrespectful, but because I had put them in groups with their desks facing each other, the non-class-related talking got out of control and the noise level rose to where I couldn’t even make myself heard. Does needing my co-teacher to silence them make me a failure? Because it sure felt like it.

High: One of the teachers in my office brought me a few unwrapped squares of a chocolate bar in his bare hands. Why is this a high point? It’s weird, right? Would anyone in Western office culture do this? Probably not. But it touches me the way everyone shares food in such a familial way. And although we can’t speak the same language, they never leave me out.

Low: One of my classes was unexpectedly (for me) canceled due to a listening test today. Which is fine except that this is the class I have to do an open class with next week (the one where other native English teachers and the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education supervisor come to watch/evaluate) AND we have midterms coming up in two weeks… which means that next week, for the open class, not only will I have not seen them for two weeks, but I’ll also have to try to cram in two lessons’ worth of material to prep them for the test (which includes boring textbook stuff) while making it look fun and exciting and awesome. This doesn’t bode well for anyone involved.

So there you have it. It’s not perfect here. My kids aren’t perfect. My co-teachers aren’t perfect. My school isn’t perfect. I’m certainly not perfect. But even so, I am incredibly happy with my life here, and I find joy in the small things from each individual day. I can use the less-than-desirable moments to improve myself, my teaching style, and my approach. (Or at least, that’s what I try to tell myself after a class that bombed or an embarrassing moment.)

I came here to grow, and I guess there’s bound to be some growing pains along the way.

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