building up

*alert alert: long rambly post ahead*

Is it me or the school being a total roller coaster of emotions right now?

Today was exceptionally good. Today was the first time I thought to myself, I’m glad I work at this school every day.

Which is crazy considering that today is Thursday, and if you read my past Thursday posts from this semester so far you’ll see how I’ve been feeling about them. (hint: not good)

I’m really loving having my own classroom. The kids come to me rather than vice versa, and hence I can prep the classroom at my leisure, set up and test things on the computer, unlock and lock the door, tell them where to sit, etc.

But the best thing is that, if I choose to spend my 10-minute break in the classroom instead of in my office, I can chat with the kids who come in before the bell.

Today I spent basically 100% of my between-classes break time in my classroom, solely for that purpose. As I did so with each class, I realized that I’m actually forming bonds with these kids that were impossible for me to form last year at either school. Break time is one of the only ways I can talk with them about silly, fun, or otherwise unrelated-to-the-textbook topics. And doing that really does make a difference in their attitudes during class time.

Some conversations:

2nd grade boy: “When I 25, America go. And marry girl. Blue eyes, gold hair.”

Me: “Okay.”

He tried to tell me something else but didn’t know the words. A few minutes later I heard him asking my co-teacher, and then he came back.

Him: “When I wedding ceremony… you… invite.”

Me: “Oh, you will invite me?”

Him: “Yes. And present give.”

Another boy usually comes in and uses random English that he knows – “What’s your name? Where are you from? Do you like k-pop? Oh, good good!” (Please note that he already knows my name and where I’m from.)

In my last class today, a group of kids came in early and oohed and aahed over the Pikachu GIF on my PPT. (I always make the first slide of my PPT a cute dance GIF or something to have on the TV as they come in.) They asked if I know 짱구 (Jjang-gu, in English known as Shin Chan, apparently an anime character) and requested that I put him on next week’s PPT “hello” slide. I agreed, then asked how to spell Jjang-gu and wrote it in hangeul on the board so I could search for it later. They thought it was hilarious and amazing that I could write in Korean.

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짱구 it is

Aside from the bonding going on, I started a new batch of lessons today that went over pretty well. It’s hard to please every class, as sometimes the first class will go crazy over a game and the next one will be so over it before you even start – and that can depend on general class mood, which period it is, co-teacher, etc. etc. But overall I think things went pretty smoothly.

I mean heck, if playing people bingo and “4 corners” (choose a corner, say the dialogue for that corner, and 1 corner is eliminated randomly) is enough to get even the most grumpy kids all out of their seats and using English, what more can I ask for? [There’s this one boy who usually slouches down in his seat and refuses to participate, but he was all “Teacher, teacher, do you know how to play League of Legends?!?” and I was all “HA I fooled you into having fun in English class. TAKE THAT SULLEN TEENAGER!”]

I also discussed the open class lesson (T minus 7 days… ㅠㅠ) with my co-teacher, skimmed through my draft of the lesson plan and PPT with her, and she put my mind at ease about it.

I’ve had this thing ever since I was little where I can’t feel good about my work if there’s some little uncomfortable thought in the back of my mind that it’s not quite right somehow. And I had that little uncomfortable thought nagging at me all week, even after my overhaul of the entire lesson on Monday night. Overthinking? Maybe. But I know once I get the lesson to where I want it, everything will click into place for me, mentally speaking, and I’ll be satisfied with it. And now that my co-teacher approved my ideas, I’m much closer to getting there.

AND tomorrow is Friday. I mean, it can’t get much better than this, right?

P.S. There is however apparently a particularly nasty flu virus going around atm. Seems like almost a third of every class is either absent or sitting there looking like death with the surgical mask on to “protect” their classmates. They’re dropping like flies. My 3rd graders said they’re required to all use hand sanitizer at the start of every class. (Not a bad idea at all. Korea could use more of this honestly.)

Thus far my ironclad immune system is holding out quite well, perhaps because I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life (literally) working with children of all ages and being coughed and sneezed at on the daily. [Hopefully I’m not jinxing myself by writing that.]

So I guess the title of this post remains apropos. building up that immunity. hang in there, everyone. after the weather change, spring will be here and we’ll be okay.

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