Classroom woes

Yesterday, I drafted a whiny woe-is-me post.

Today, I’m glad I didn’t hit publish. [nonetheless i will now proceed with summarizing said woe-is-me post, only a bit less negatively]

Every teacher goes through work stress, from misbehaving students to lesson planning to coworker clashes to administration frustrations to fighting the counterproductive stupidities that have been embedded into the “system.” I think I can safely say literally every teacher. As an ESL teacher in Korea specifically, there is another set of frustrations related to lack of communication / language barrier and lack of power (as our role is technically a ‘guest/assistant’ teacher).

Anyway, yesterday was just one of those days.

My classroom TV/computer connection had a freak-out moment and stopped working mid-class, and my co-teachers and I were running around the school looking for an empty classroom every period until the very awesome technology teacher set up a temporary fix by plugging his laptop directly into the TV via HDMI cable.

(I am seriously so thankful for our new technology teacher; since he started working at my school just about a month ago, he’s helped me with SO many annoying technical problems in my classroom, and he’s always super prompt and cheerful, AND he can speak English! If I were the boss of something, I would hire him as my personal assistant. hahaha)

(Also, insert argument about not relying on technology in the classroom here. It’s true, but in my case and the case of many foreign teachers in Korea, using PPT makes it soooo much easier to explain vocabulary or activity/game instructions without bringing in tons of realia or pictures or relying on the Korean teacher for assistance/demonstration/translation.)

Besides the technical inconveniences, I was drained of all my energy by unmotivated students. My after-school class with the 16-yr-olds made me want to drown in a pool of my own tears afterwards. Or maybe to just yell “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, WHAT DO YOU WANT?“, as I have now tried a wide variety of formats including non-PPT-based speaking games and activities, a pop song guessing game, Hot Seat (basically Taboo), watching a short animation and making a comic, and – yesterday’s failure of epic proportions – writing a simple “poem” using the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why). I have let them sit where they want and also made a seating chart to separate the chatty ones.


Now that I’ve recovered from that critical hit to my pride, I’ve decided to simplify the remaining lessons as much as possible and just do what every other teacher is probably doing and hurry up and get through it.

As for today, most of it was an echo of yesterday, but at the very end, just before my final class of the day, my buddy the technology teacher saved the day yet again by bringing in a guy to fix the original computer/TV connection.

And not only was I able to use my normal classroom computer for that class, but it was one of my favorite classes, a very cheerful and polite bunch of kids. The lesson was on “I can’t believe it!”, so I showed them some weird facts (did you know the average person’s forearm is the same length as their foot?) and optical illusions. They had a very enjoyable time with those.

Just one class like that is all I need to feel that the rest of it is worth it. So this Thursday is ending happily. Even better, tomorrow is Friday AND it’s Sports Day, which means no classes and the kids will be running around outside all day, doing relay races and jump rope contests and tug-of-war.


2 thoughts on “Classroom woes

  1. M.E. says:

    What a great post! I had to raise my forearm, then twist into a pretzel to bring my foot up, at which point I said, “Well I’ll be dipped!” Whatever that means. Also I laughed out loud at “drown in a pool of my own tears” (not laughing at your misery, just the turn of phrase, mind you), and I had to go look up “realia”. This post demanded a high level of audience participation. 🙂


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