In the months before coming to Korea I'd have to say I was a lot more focused on how I would adjust to a new apartment, culture and language - the minor detail of becoming a teacher seems to have slipped my mind. The EPIK staff and lectures gave us some great material and resources to use for the classroom, however learning how to be a teacher is usually done over more than a weeks time span
Never-the-less I was throw in blind last week Monday. Welcome to Buksam high school you are now the native English teacher for 480 students! I admit it was both exciting and a bit scary. Most of the students were well behaved, granted it was the first class and they were eager to see who this 외곡 (foreigner) was in their classroom - we'll see how long that lasts. After 1 week here's a list of some things I've observed and learned.
1. Teaching is hard - there is more to it than just showing up in the classroom and talking for an hour, I have underestimated how long it takes to prepare what the hell you're going to talk about - and also making sure that the kids are entertained/active/engaged...
2. Teaching the same lesson 16 times in one week is boring. This is something I always wondered about when I was a student - didn't teachers basically have the lesson memorized - answer: yes. However I also have a lot of time spent at my desk so I guess it balances out?
3. This is something that I'm still trying to figure out - how they treat special needs students here. I've had a few classes where the kids and teacher have told me "oh he's special, just ignore him". Yes, by special they mean mentally handicapped or slow. I'm really hoping that they only told me to ignore these students in my class because it is too hard for them to understand the English instruction and obviously I can't translate everything for them. I'm not sure how they're treated outside of the English discussion room but it seems that they're just thrown in with the rest of the students and expected to keep up. I was told at my teachers meeting that they may not come to my class after the first few weeks. I'm hoping this is the case because it makes class awkward when I can't do anything to help them.
4. I'm teaching high school? Hm could have fooled me - not sure if it's just me but I thought high school students were a little more mature. The girls are worse - super giggly, shy and seem to be more like 6th grade students. I think what adds to this is that the principal prefers boys and girls don't mix so they are separated in their seating arrangement - also at lunch, boys on one side, girls on the other.
Those are just some of the things I've picked up in my first week here - hoping classes continue to go smoothly. The hardest challenge right now is decided what and how to teach the lessons. My major problem is that I want to plan out my whole year and have a "road map" however that's more or less impossible in Korea as there are constant changes being made. Just have to learn to roll with it.