Spirits lifting

As noted in some of my previous posts, it’s been a bit of a struggle the last week or two; my confidence and optimism started to waver as I reached the midway point of the semester (probably correlating with how my students are feeling, actually). But a few things have happened today to really lift my spirits. Here they are, in no particular order (okay actually they’re basically in chronological order because I’m a perfectionist like that).

  • I had a chance to sit down and chat with one of the co-teachers I haven’t been able to talk to much outside of class time and who I feared disapproved of my classes because of her silence. Today she not only said my classes are good, but also laughed about how much all the students love me, “especially the boys,” and told me that they never pay attention for her class as well as they do for mine. And that the boys have literally said to her, “Teacher, move over. I can’t see Maddy Teacher.” Too funny.
  • One of my students passed me on the school grounds after lunch and not only stopped to say hello, but followed up with “How are you?” This shocked me and made me beam with pride, because he is one of the lower level students and usually tries to speak to me in 100% Korean (although it’s also kinda cute that he tries so hard to communicate with me in his own language too).
  • I sort of had a “trial run” of my lesson for my open class today, since the lesson I taught today will remain the same for my Thursday classes – and it went spectacularly. Probably one of the best lessons I’ve taught thus far (*knocks on wood in a superstitious, anxiety-filled way even though she doesn’t believe in that kind of thing*). So that helps ease my mind about Thursday.
  • Learned today that not only do we have midterms next week – meaning I’ll be teaching a simple review lesson and then have no classes next Thursday and Friday while the kids are being tested – but we also have a “spring break” of sorts approaching from May 1st – 5th. Korea is celebrating Labor Day on the 1st and Children’s Day on the 5th, so we essentially get a really nice long weekend. And while I love the kids, I have been feeling a bit rundown and in need of a breather.
  • I have truly been blessed with amazingly smart and sweet kids in my after school class. I’ve heard stories from other teachers who aren’t so lucky and their after school classes are full of kids who treat English as a joke and a way to get out of actual studying in a different after school class, but my kids are so good. I know them each by name now, and they’ve really started to open up to me. They teach me Korean words as I teach them English (today I learned 콧수염, kotsuyeom, mustache, while we were talking about adjectives and describing people’s appearance). They got a kick out of the words “freckles” and “wrinkles.” The girls think “wrinkles” is a pretty word and were chanting it happily after class. We laugh when I accidentally bump the smartboard/TV and change the slide mid-sentence, and the picture of an apple I was pointing to suddenly becomes a monkey. They translate the computer’s error messages for me when something gets messed up. Today we played 20 Questions and they thought it was pretty funny when I had to turn off the TV and check my PowerPoint slides to make sure I remembered what they were supposed to be guessing.
  • Walking home from work, I ran into a few groups of students, as I often do. Two of the girls ran up to me to say hi – “Teacher, we’re your fan!” – and make hand hearts at me. They even remembered the next time they’ll have me in class (next week), which is nice because I didn’t. (They’re at my smaller school where I only see each class once every 3 weeks.)
  • There’s still nothing quite like walking down the path from my school after a day of great classes like today, turning that corner just as the crescendoing chorus of “Pompeii” by Bastille hits my earbuds, and seeing that breathtaking view of Apsan Mountain. Words can’t describe it and pictures can’t do it justice. It’s just a wave of feeling that almost brings happy tears to my eyes some days. Like the realization hitting me anew every time that oh my God, I’m in Korea and I’m pursuing a crazy adventure and this is my life now and I absolutely love it.
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