Valentine’s Day Approaches

As a single lady, I don’t really have any reasons to be super excited that Valentine’s Day is coming, but I do love it because holidays are always a fun thing to celebrate in a classroom.

I’m planning on turning Friday into a mini-party–still working out logistics–but I’m going to bake Funfetti cupcakes with pink icing and I want to make these cookies:

Yummy!  :D

And maybe some of these too–I could put together some cookie bags like I did for Christmas.  :D  We’ll see.

I also want to have them make Valentine’s cards for each other as it’s a cultural experience and it’s not something that’s done here.

Valentine’s Day in Korea is when the girls give chocolates/candy to the boys and a month later on March 14, White Day, the guys return the favor.  Apparently there’s also Black Day the following month (April 14) and that’s for the single people.

You’re supposed to go to the restaurants and order jjajjangmyeong, which is a cold, black bean and noodle dish.  You’re then essentially upping your chances to meet other single people in hopes that you won’t be single the next time it rolls around.

My goal with the treats and Valentine’s party is to make a fun party out of it.  I want them to be able to enjoy the holiday in another way.  I like opening their eyes to different things.
For example, a girl was reading a book about apple picking and there were yellow apples in the book and she thought it was funny.  In Korea, we have one type of red apples and SOMETIMES green apples (and the world goes crazy when they are here), but there aren’t any yellow apples.  I explained to the girl that there are yellow apples too and she thought I was joking, but I pulled up an American grocery store on Google and she was amazed by all the apples.  Not just one kind of red…but a lot of red, green and yes, yellow apples.
I try to also include other countries into the mix also.  I don’t want it to be all about America, but also about other places that I’ve experienced.  I like to pass on as many cultural things as possible to open their minds a bit.

With Valentine’s Day, I want them to know that it can be celebrated any way you want, but especially including your firends and family into the mixture.  It’s not only for boyfriends/girlfriends.  I hear so much about being “lonely”/”don’t want to be lonely”/”Aren’t you lonely” from the older people (my age) that it’d be nice to diffuse some of that before it gets going.

Let’s see…oh!  We watched Matilda the past two movie days (Only about 30 minutes each time)–and usually I don’t do two movies in a row because there are so many out there, but they LOVED Matilda, so we continued on a bit more with it.  (One of my girls in the class found the book in our library and I encouraged her to take it home and try it out.  It’s well above her reading level but she loved the movie and she seemed excited to have it, especially knowing that there wasn’t a rush and she wouldn’t have a test over it.
Ah yes, the point…if you’ve seen the movie or read the book you know there’s a horrible principal called Miss Trunchbull, and later in the movie it lets on that she’s superstitious and afraid of spooky/ghosty things.
This lead to a segway about superstition. A massive word for them, but I talked about it anyway.  We talked about good luck and bad luck and what things people are superstitious about in Korea.  They didn’t know the word superstitious in Korean (I translated it, but they don’t know it yet in their language, but they knew bad luck).  We also talked about how superstitions (or things that are bad luck) can be different in each country.
For example, in Korea, the number 4 is considered to be bad luck, as is writing someone’s name in red ink (symbolizes death),  I talked about some that we have in the US (walking under ladders, #13, black cats) and helped them understand why Miss Trunchbull was freaking out when there was a black cat near her in the movie.

Whew.  A bit long-winded tonight.
We had the movie day on Friday, but I made a note to talk with them about it because they seemed confused as to why this big strong lady was afraid of cats.  One boy just thought she didn’t like cats…but it was a good learning experience.

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More on Korean superstitions herehere and here!!
The first link is a good one and talks about ‘fan death’.  :-P

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Anyway, I’m eagerly awaiting for a package from my mom with the two Titanic books that I ordered off Amazon for my Titanic-obsessed student.  I want to see his face when he gets them so bad.  It’s going to be beautiful.

Valentine’s Day is going to be snack-time (cupcakes and cookies–bagged candy can be pricey and I love baking, so baked goods it is!) and they’re going to make Valentine’s for each other and their parents.
We have two hours…so that should be enough time…right?

Thanks for the Motivation!

I’m having more issues with my school and this front-desk lady (whom is now “in charge of” the foreign staff and all teacher-related things–former boss now resides on the computer in the library).  I’m not being sarcastic or whatever–like really.

Anyway, a few things that have been grinding my gears:

1. I have a student in my second class that comes MWF and he’s the lowest in the class–low reading level/comprehension level/etc.  I went down to the library, where he goes on T/Th to “read/do homework/do book comprehension tests” and he had been wandering around for the 20 minutes that I was there with my previous class and was still wandering when I came down before my next class–his would-be class if he was registered.
Anyway, I asked him what he was going to do for his next two hours and he shrugged (as he usually does when asked questions).  I have seen him wandering on numerous occasions, not just this one, so I helped him pick out 3 books at his level and asked him to read them and do one comprehension worksheet (“book worksheet”) in the next two hours.
He said he didn’t have any paper or pencils today so I went up to my room, got some extras, came back down and got him sorted.  We agreed that that was what he would do.

Boss (who now resides in the library, as I mentioned) called me into one of the small classrooms in the library and told me not to give the boy extra work.  I explained that he was behind all the extra students and that he needed something to do during all the extra time he spends in the library.  Boss said his parents don’t pay us for you do to do extra prep work to help him.

Um.  I’ll wait.

I said that it wasn’t any trouble because there wasn’t really any prep work to do–I just picked out books with him (which he could technically do on his own, but I wanted to help him out this time around).  It was basically end of story, don’t help him.

I decided later to just give him and two other students in another class extra homework for the days that they aren’t in class.  Hopefully that will help him since I’m not allowed.

2. Ok, so I work 1:30-8:30 with a “10 minute break” between my 3 classes.  The first class starts at 2:30 and I’m expected to be in the room at 1:30.
I put quotes around the break-time because with stragglers from previous classes and trips to the bathroom, and when the next class comes directly into the room after you leave with the previous one, there is little “break time”.  Essentially under 5 minutes…if that.  I actually have a rule now (for my sanity) that the kids aren’t allowed to ask for extra homework papers, etc until classtime officially starts so I can get all my stuff done with minimal interruptions.
Oh, and add surprise new students to this “break time” and maybe you’re starting to get an idea.  I got 2 new students on Tuesday and 2 on Wednesday.  Some of which were just sitting in my room when I walked in–extra copies of classwork, getting folders and homework papers put together (I already have a stack printed).

Anyway, the thought of eating might not have crossed your mind, but shockingly, teachers do get hungry as well.  We (on all days prior to yesterday) were able to bring in a small snack or something to scarf down between classes or even get something from the convenience store downstairs.
Yesterday, I bought a small cup of ramen/instant noodles before my last class to tide me over til I ate a real meal after work.  I brought it in and put it on my desk (2 minutes til class started–dismissed the second class and essentially ran down to the shop to get it).  As soon as I walked in (I have brought in food countless times before, and many times I even bring in homemade stuff for my classes, or order pizza)–
ANYWAY, as soon as I walked in they were all like “ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” and running out into the hall and around the room acting as though they hadn’t eaten for days and begging for some.
First, WTF.
Second, how rude.
Anyway, I called them out on their behavior and FDL (front desk lady, in case you’ve forgotten) came in and said that I shouldn’t eat that food in the room because of the smell.
First, this has never been an issue before that moment.
Second, I hadn’t eaten since about 11am.
Third, these are the same people that eat seaweed snacks (smells like the devil) in the classroom.

Anyway, it’s not like I walk around the room with my cup of ramen.  I eat a bite here and there when they’re doing group-work or taking reading tests, which the first 20 minutes or so of class.  Which is why it hasn’t been an issue.
She said to go into the office and eat it–she closed the door and started speaking Korean to the class–which Korean is not allowed in the classrooms.  I decided that it wasn’t worth it and went back in the room.  I said that we had a schedule to follow and that I would just eat later.  (Speaking Korean to my highest level class isn’t on the plan for today as well).
She went out and I had a chat with my students about why I was upset.  I said their behavior was rude and asked how many of them had eaten dinner before they came (all of them) and many of them apologized and they understood what I was talking about.  I broke it down very simply just to be sure and they all understood.
We carried on and it was as if it hadn’t happened.

As I was getting ready to leave, FDL came into my room and said she needed to talk with me.  She asked if I had time right then (I didn’t) and asked if we could talk tomorrow (now today) about what happened.
She said she didn’t want me to call the children ‘rude’ because they might be upset and not understand.
I told her that we had a big talk about it and that they did understand.
She seemed surprised and said “Oh, really??”

Anyway, we’re apparently supposed to talk about it today.  She has a habit of talking over people–usually at “staff meetings”.  There was another teacher who had an idea for a problem we were talking about at the last one and she literally spoke louder to speak over him.

I still stand by what I told the kids and I think it’s definitely within my right to call them rude if they’re being rude.  If I do not have a breaktime (and I think it’s bad form on my part to be eating away in the office while class is in session) and I work from 1-9 essentially…
They’ve learned a lot of life lessons in our class and I think learning not to beg others for food is a good one.
I also think that having all three of my classes at capacity with high parent approval shows something.

Anyway, TGIF.

Other lessons featured in my classes: (This is for my own personal enjoyment)
*Please/Thank You are required
*Pushing in your chair when you leave your desk/table
*Helping others: General Knowledge
*Helping others-Part 2: When someone drops their pencilcase/folder on the floor and everything flies everywhere onto the floor (AKA: Don’t sit there like a dummy and watch–come help!)–Note: I don’t use the word dummy or any equivalent.
*No pushing/wait your turn/Hands to yourself
*Clean up after yourself
*Hold the door for the person behind you
*Don’t laugh when someone else makes a mistake (especially a reading mistake/has trouble with reading…or you will receive my wrath.  JokingButNotJoking)
*Raise your hand to speak/don’t shout at me
*Ask questions.  Lots of questions.  Be curious.  Especially if you don’t understand or need help.  (This is HUGE here.  It’s considered essentially lowering yourself/”lose face”, but bosses are known to either make up something or lie rather than say they don’t know.  If my kids leave me learning one skill, I want it to be this one.  Don’t be afraid to admit fault and be curious.)

Be Brave…Preparing to Jump

Gosh, whenever I think about this school thing I feel like my heart is going to break open.  I’m so nervous I can’t even stand it.

I’m looking at schools in the UK and planning on applying once I get all my stuff together.  I’ve wanted to move there for quite a long time–I’m not sure why–I’ve just really enjoyed myself each time I’ve been there and could see myself settling there for a bit.  The schools are also WAY cheaper than in the US (like half the cost)…

I know I just need to stop messing around and just make the leap…just apply already and see what happens, but the what-ifs are suffocating me.

I found these quotes and they seem pretty fitting:

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
C. JoyBell C.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
William G.T. Shedd

The Little Things

So, this week has been pretty good so far.

1. On Monday, one of the ladies at the front desk mentioned that my second class would be combined with another teacher’s class because they weren’t able to find a sub to cover the class.  (They’re more lenient with this because this other person is technically filling in for our co-owner who is in England currently with a bunch of students until February/March).
Anyway, I was given about 40 minutes notice, which is more time than I’m used to for such announcements…so although it was a bit challenging (and crowded) getting everything covered for two different courses in the same allotted time–got it done and felt pretty good about it after.
My second class is my favorite class because they’re quick-learners and they’re pretty friendly kids, so they would have been my ideal choice class to have anyone else be merged with had I a choice anyway.  So, convenient that it worked out that way.
Also that it fell on a Monday which is when we introduce new vocabulary, that was also nice.  Mondays are the easiest to sort of cram things in.  We just had to move the class fairly quickly.  Less chatting and more…military style, I guess you could say.  Finish one thing and quickly on to the next so the other class could get their vocabulary in as well.

2. I have a favorite coffee shop that’s near my school–mainly because the owner is super nice and also because the coffee isn’t horrendously over-priced.  The owner also speaks English which is a HUGE plus (and very, VERY rare.)  He also gives me free biscuits for my coffee and sometimes throws in a free cookie because I visit often.
Anyway, I’ve tried at other places to get a cafe mocha with an extra shot of espresso…and failed at it.  If you’ve been in Korea for any length of time (not sure about in Seoul), but having an order modified is unheard of.  Essentially impossible.  You order what is on the menu and that’s that.  Don’t like pickles?  Tough.  Want some extra cheese on that burger?  Too bad.  So, what typically would happen when  I’d order an extra espresso shot would be that I’d get the mocha AND an espresso shot.  Not in the same cup.  Tried translating and miming and it just ends in confusion.
Anyway, so I decided randomly to try it out today at my favorite place and he was confused at first but because he speaks English he was able to pass it on to the barista.  ANNNNND perfection.  That one little thing made my day.  haha
I think most coffee drinks come with about one shot of espresso in it here (two in the US) because I can barely taste the coffee when I’m drinking it.  Not so, today.  I’m wondering if my students noticed my extra energy today, haha. :)

3. My first (the rowdy bunch) class are also learning the ways of my room and starting to settle down a bit.  We’ve still got a ways to go, but there hasn’t been any yelling or ripping of things off the walls since that last incident.  Also, they’re getting pretty good about coming in and getting their work out, which feels pretty great, if I do say so myself.  :D

The only not so good thing is that I worked out before work today and my right knee feels like it’s in a vice.  It started toward the end of work today but headed to bed now so hopefully it’ll be good to go before tomorrow.  Might take some ibuprofen or something before bed.

Oh, also, I’m madly in love with Sam Smith.  That is all.  :D

Here’s a video to start/continue/end your day.

Progress?

After about 4 hours and feeling like I didn’t accomplish much, I wanted to write down what I did so I feel better about the time I spent researching.  I think the thing with research is that because it doesn’t produce any sort of tangible results, it’s harder to feel like you got anything done.  If you’re reading or doing practice  tests for an exam, you can see physical work, but just gathering information, not so much.

*Found basic info on 5 different schools
*Looked into classes for this summer to boost my GPA, then found out that you can’t boost your GPA after you graduate.  It just creates a new GPA.  Gah.
*Found a school in England that I’m really interested in (also half the cost of those I’ve seen in the US)–10 month program–The only issue so far is that my undergrad grades aren’t high enough for their prereqs.  I sent them an email asking what I can do to still have a shot at acceptance given my less than stellar grades (from 5 years ago…), so hopefully I hear something positive back
*Found out how to convert my GPA to the UK equivalent
*I’m thinking I’ll end up going to school in the UK, which helps me narrow things down a lot.  I still like the University of Oregon, but with $40k in tuition…and there are other places that will get me what I want for half the cost…I’m happy that the UK is making this decision easier for me.  :)

I’m probably going to keep looking around tomorrow and see if there are other schools, just in case.  I also need to see if the PGCE is internationally accepted.  I’m assuming so?

Anyway, off to the gym to burn off some stress.

Life Plans

I’m currently planning to leave Korea in September…and I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop doing research on a few of the ideas I’ve had rolling around in my head for the past 6 months or so about what I could see myself doing next.  These are some of the things I’ve thought about:

*Teach for America (application is filled out…just waiting on my own self to hit the submit button)
*A handful of universities in the US to get my degree in education (each offering something a tad different than the others with varying prices)
*Teach First (essentially Teach for America, but in England–and they accept foreigners :D)
*a handful of universities in the UK/Europe (cheaper than the US, but the application process and terminology is very different than what I’m used to here in the US…also daunting)
*Stay in Korea another 6 months to save up more money for the big move

Each one has its own wild path and I’ve asked for advice from several people and gotten a lot of responses, which I’m grateful for, but it’s also made things a bit more confusing as well.  I’m hoping that my research today will help me narrow down some of my choices so I can feel a bit more on top of things.

I’ve heard…less than stellar things about going to teach in the US, and I’m aware of the differences, but about 95% of the people I’ve spoken with said do not teach in America because it’s a huge mess.
I also really like teaching, and I know things will be very different than they are here in Korea.  I know that, and I’m really looking for something more stable than what I’ve got right now.  I want to put down some roots and feel more that I belong.  I think with the Masters (and speaking with a friend of mine helped me to keep this in mind), that it is a higher-level degree, so no matter where I do it (for the most part), it’s the same degree.
I also think that it will help to open more doors for me.
I currently have a bachelor’s in business-marketing, which I haven’t touched, but it’s opened the door to this Korea experience, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.  A Masters would allow me to teach in the country I got it in, but also let me teach English (or regular classes) in other countries aside from Korea.  Korea (and several others in Asia) only require a bachelors in something, but if you want to go elsewhere, many require a degree in English or Education.  Which I’d be getting…but it’s also insanely expensive (ie: $50,000 give or take a few thousand.)  FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.  My god. I just keep looking at that number and thinking how long it would take to pay back.  That combined with my undergrad and I’m locked into debt for the rest of my days.  *sigh*

That’s also why I’ve been looking at Europe and the UK–they offer Masters programs that are typically cheaper.  More research to do on these different programs, and here’s to hoping that they aren’t as suffocating and won’t rob me blind like the ones in my home country.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m really looking for advice or anything, just needed a bit of a vent and to get all of this off my chest.  It’s been swirling around in my head for the past few months and I’m ready to start making plans.

Oh, and ALSO, I could stay in Korea another 6 months or so to help save money for the next step…but I feel like it’s draining me.  I love teaching, but I’m feeling so worn.  We teach every day of the year with 2 weeks off–one in the summer and one in the winter and public holidays.  I love my kids to bits, but I feel like I need a 100-year nap.  I’d definitely need a break or something before diving into a Masters program.

Edit: I just stumbled across a really helpful site that converts the US grade scale to the UK’s grade scale.  Awesome :)

Books worth reading, as recommended by Bill Gates, Susan Cain and more…

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

Find repose by exciting the mind. Some of the world’s leading thinkers offer the books that inspired them and their work. Skim the list for your favorite speakers, or get nerdy on a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about. Below find 52 books, recommended by TED speakers.

Creativity

Creative Confidence, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Crown Business, 2013
Recommended by: Tim Brown (TED Talk: Designers — think big!)
“‘Creative confidence’ is the creative mindset that goes along with design thinking’s creative skill set.”
See more of Tim Brown’s favorite books.

Creating Minds, by Howard Gardner
Basic Books, 2011
Recommended by: Roselinde Torres (TED Talk: What it takes to be a great leader)
“Gardner’s book was first published more than twenty years ago, but its insights into the creative process — told through the stories of seven remarkable individuals from different fields —…

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