Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Typical Day

I still think that teaching is pretty much the least "blog-worthy" part of my life, but since my dad has been asking and since the school is a bit different than most other hagwons, I figure a brief rundown of my day isn't entirely vacuous narcissism.  BEHOLD, MY LIFE:

My day officially starts at 2, but I try to get to work at least ten minutes early because I dislike arriving later than the Korean teachers (who all start at 1.50).  It just makes me feel privileged and pampered.

The first hour of the day is given over to time for lesson planning.  If I have to, this is when I hammer out the Power Point presentation I'll be using for the next couple of days.  Otherwise, I correct written assignments or plan activities for my more challenging classes: making worksheets, generating puzzles,  downloading relevant videos from the Internet, etc.

At 3, we all have lunch.  One of the moms or other relative of a student prepares lunch for us, presumably in exchange for a discount on tuition.  It's pretty good, there's a nice variety (though it's obviously always Korean), and there's plenty of it (as opposed to Cassandra, which always had the same lineup of kimchi, jjigae, and rice, and never enough for the teachers).  I do miss my daily dose of Kimbap Cheonguk and dolsot bibimbap, but I'll gladly take a free lunch!  Especially when the free lunch has a good chance of being budae jjigae, as done properly by a Uijeongbu ajumma.

After that, it's back to planning until my first lesson, which is anywhere from 3.40 to 4.35.  The curriculum at this school is largely based around pop music and American movies.  They watch one movie every two months, for November and December it's been Elf.  My job is to review scenes of the movie with the students and make sure they understand what's going on.  Since the clips are never longer than like ten minutes (and mostly falling in the three- to six-minute range), there's not a whole lot of content and I teach in short twenty minute blocks.  With most of the classes, I put together a Power Point with screen captures from the movie and questions from the students' homework book, and then tag on a Power Point game at the end, usually Bingo but I'm always on the lookout for something else.

I have two of these movie classes that are forty minutes in length, so I spend a bit more time prepping those.  It can be difficult to stretch out a three minute movie scene for that length of time, but on the other hand, it's nice to have the time for proper warm-up activities, giving feedback, etc.

Three of my classes are advanced beyond the point of the movie curriculum.  Instead, I teach them from  a "Speaking and Writing" textbook.  It's a pretty low-budget affair (typos, no proper bookbinding, WordArt graphics) and the topics can be hit and miss.  "Identity Theft"?  Not really that interesting or relevant to a 13 year old Korean.  "Green Profits"?  Lots of  stuff about the environment to talk about.  "One Laptop Per Child"?  Great time to talk about charity, poverty, and the ethical and moral obligations surrounding wealth.  These are the classes I show videos in: first of all, they're forty to fifty minutes long, so there's plenty of time.  Second, sometimes the topics are boring, so the videos help maintain interest.  And sometimes I think they're just good for cultural awareness, like the ad campaign for One Laptop Per Child.  The more access Korean students have to other cultures and accents, the better.

My last class ends around 8.50 or so, depending on the day.  I go home at 9 or 9.20, depending on the day, but I usually stay a little later to finish marking written assignments I've accumulated through the day or to brainstorm lesson plan ideas for the next day.  Again, I feel like a huge jerk leaving at 9 when everyone else is stuck there until 9.30.

Everyone takes turns washing the dishes from lunch.  My day to do that is Tuesday.  Sometimes other miscellany comes up but it's never unmanageable: help some of the students practice for an English language speech contest, proofread and edit my boss' son's essay for his SAT prep hagwon, etc.  Then I come home, eat dinner, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day.

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