Week in Review

Friday is such an easy day for me. Beyond the obvious TGIF reason, it’s the day when I have tweaked and perfected my lesson to the point that everything runs smoothly and I have the timing down so there’s no unfinished sections and no running out of activities and having a moment of internal panic before coming up with something on the fly.

I feel sorry for my Monday and Tuesday classes – they’re my guinea pigs each week, and they always have to experience my lessons in their least polished, most rough-drafty form. Sorry, kids!

*     *     *

Open class = completed. Cue sweet relief. The fact that getting my open class over with coincides with having an “easy” week next week (because of midterms, I have no classes next Thurs & Fri) is just icing on the cake.

Admittedly, it wasn’t my best class ever, but I did the best I could to teach well and to get the students engaged. My principal watched the first 15-20 minutes, which in my opinion was the better section of the class (they got a little excited and chatty during the game at the end), so I guess that’s a good thing.

At any rate, it’s over! I have two more coming up in May and June, but for now I can relax a little bit.

*     *     *

While walking to school one morning this week, I had a tiny little girl (possibly 1st grade) start walking beside me. Apparently she wanted to walk next to me, because whenever I would try to walk ahead of her, she’d start running to catch up to me. When she got to me, she’d be speaking upset and flustered Korean – whether to me or to herself, I’m not sure. It was hilarious and adorable.

*     *     *

Getting the balance right for teaching ESL is tricky. Sometimes the material is too difficult, sometimes it’s too easy. Sometimes I expect too little, sometimes too much. I have one low level class in which even the games (the games that my other classes loved) feel like pulling teeth.

But then small things happen to encourage me when I reach out to those kids who don’t want to participate.

Today, while the textbook dialogue was blasting from the TV speakers, I was walking around monitoring the class while they were supposed to mark the correct answers in their books. A couple boys in the back who are lower level rarely do their book work. I went up to them and silently pointed to the place they should be in the book. They gave me blank looks, so I repeated the dialogue: “Would you prefer the parrot show or the bear show?”

“Bear,” one of the boys said. “곰” (gom, Korean for bear). “Yes, 곰,” I repeated – and I saw a light spring into his eyes as he looked at me, equally impressed and amused.

*     *     *

This was my favorite moment of the week, and it happened today during my last class (one of my favorite classes, as I’ve mentioned before):

First, I need to explain the matching game we were playing. This game has been a roaring success this week overall – I’ve had even the shyest kids getting into it, and for the first time, I guarantee that every single kid in class spoke English.

Essentially, the kids have to choose two words from the game board on the screen and put it into the key expression “Would you prefer _____ or _____?” (e.g. “Would you prefer pizza or chocolate?”). When I click the two words they chose, the words disappear to reveal pictures of Korean actors underneath. If the pictures match, the team gets a point. If they don’t, I click the pictures to make the words reappear and the next team tries.

Actually, I’m so proud of this PPT and lesson, I’ll share it here. If you want to take a look at the product of my blood, sweat, and tears, please feel free. (It works best if you actually download it and open it in PowerPoint presentation mode, not in Google Drive.) (Disclosure: the idea for the matching game came from a fellow EPIK teacher, but I did create my PPT 100% from scratch.)

Anyway, I inevitably had kids in each class who started writing down which picture was under which word. In this particular class I stopped a boy in the front row just as he was starting to write – “Don’t write!” “Oh sorry, sorry,” he said.

He then proceeded to turn around to a classmate on another team who had also started writing and shout, “Don’t write! What are you doing?? Are you kidding me?!”

I laughed way too hard at that.


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