Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A hard day

Long day today, and I'm to tired to attempt any level of eloquence about it. Just a lot of transitioning at school these days and a general rush to get things done yesterday. I know... it sounds like "Korean style", and it is, but today it just got me down.

I had one of the worst single lessons that I can remember teaching since coming to Korea. The really shabby thing is that it was a lesson that I had been using with great success all week. It's simple stuff, really - showcasing the difference between:

1) What does he like doing? ie: "He likes playing soccer."
2) What is he like? ie: "He is short and fast."

Just from this, you can get a pretty good idea of what level of English I am teaching this year.

This was for my grade 7 classes. With the advanced level students, the class ended-up having a lot of fun. I used a basic powerpoint slide show to reinforce the basic sentences (as outlined above), then we divided into teams and had a team contest, showing various celebrities through powerpoint, engaged in some sort of activity. Teams would then

1) Tell me what he or she was doing.
2) Use the Apples to Apples adjective cards to describe what he or she is like.

Sounds pretty basic, but for my kids, it was right on the money and the kids had a lot of fun describing my choice of celebrity (from current Korean president, Lee Myunk-Bak, to Bart Simpson).

Today just went to S#*@, and fast. I could go on about this class, but I don't have the energy. It just brought me down. I felt like I was teaching a room full of greasers and pink-ladies. I half-expected to hear the sound of bubblegum snapping throughout the class. One girl was actually putting pink rollers in her hair, using a hand-mirror so as to be sure that she got it right.

The thing is, this class didn't learn the lesson, they didn't listen to each other or me, and we didn't have time for the fun part of the activity. With 5 minutes left in a 45 minutes class, knowing that I didn't have time for a game that requires 20 minutes in the best of circumstances, I just told the class to close their books and that class was over. Finally, they knew it was serious and apologized to me after class.

The worst part is, I don't have this class next week due to a school scheduling conflict. The week following is their speaking test - one third of which will involve the lesson that they paid no attention to. Next week was to be review, and now that time slot is lost. I'm going to have to schedule time somewhere else for me to ensure that this group of students is ready for the speaking test in two weeks time.

I'm counting it as a positive that I still get disappointed in lack of caring from students. I know I'm on the right track when I have a truly successful class, but then the rug gets pulled-out when another group just couldn't care less about being there. I know that encouraging them to care is my job, I just wish that the hill wasn't already so high to climb.

On a good note, the blossoms that were sadly missing form our Yeuido excursion this past weekend are out in full bloom on the trees surrounding my school. I popped my head out of the window a few times, and it was good to see the flowers today. A favourite student gave me one to press in my book. It went a surprisingly long way towards turning the day around for me.


vagabondshandi said...

I'm sorry buddy. Seems like this is a rough week in SK all around...

brat9 said...

wish i could give ya a hug right now~
those kids don't know how good they've got it... with a caring teacher like you. don't stress out too much about it... :)

see you soon!