Discipline in my Classroom

I’m on my lunch break now and went to a BURGER place with a co-worker.  We have a Burger King across the street (and a Starbucks), but I mentioned I had been craving a real burger for awhile.  So we went to a burger place (REAL BURGERS…none of those flat “burgers” from fast food places) and it was wonderful.  And it’s right down the street. 🙂

*Classroom is coming along nicely too 🙂  Looks much better with fun stuff on the walls.  I’m trying to cover it with more of their projects and stuff relevant to what we’re talking about.  I’ll post pics/video when I’m satisfied with it 🙂  (Head Teacher and the Owner’s wife are happy with it too 🙂 hoorah!)

I also wanted to make a note of the type of discipline I use in my classroom.  I used to send my kids to the Korean teachers if they were really rowdy, but I heard/saw that ours don’t really do much to help the situation.  I love my Korean co-teachers (they also teach different lessons), but I’ve found (and was advised) that it works better if I do all my own disciplining.  And it’s been working wonders since then.
Discipline in Stacey Teacher’s classes:
*Anyway, I use M&Ms as a form of positive reinforcement in all of my classes.  I used them more at the beginning of the year, but I’ve been weaning them off as the year has progressed.  The school also provides the kids with sticker books, and we give them stickers also to reinforce good behavior (turning in homework, following directions, being a good student etc).  If they are all being loud or if someone is disrupting the class, I’ve found that it’s more effective to stand there with your arms crossed than to be like “Quiet!! Be Quiet!!  Listen to me!!”  They tend to shut up pretty quick. ha.
First, I’ll warn them a few times and use verbal cues that they aren’t behaving properly.

Then I’ll either take the students and have them stand against the wall or stand outside the classroom (depends on the situation) for like 5 minutes.  I’ll continue on normally with class during this time and explain to the student and the class why I’m doing what I’m doing.  (Works well with all ages, but really helpful with the beginner students)

Or, I’ll put homework pages on the board and explain that I will add pages if they’re behaving poorly or if I have to keep stopping the class.  This works really well because they see how their behavior corresponds with a consequence…in very real time.  Also good if there’s one or two students acting out in the class, because if the rest of the students see that those kids are causing them to get more homework, then they jump on them telling them to be quiet.  Good stuff.  🙂
^My most recent tactic 🙂

Anyway, headed back to work.

Breakdowns + Media Posts

Had a bit of a rough day today.  I can tell it’s been kind of a long time coming, but I had a bit of a homesickness//I-HATE-THIS-SO-MUCH kind of breakdown.
Our head-teacher is well…an interesting type of person.  Again, she’s the one that would rather us lie to the parents to save face.  Actually, I’m learning quickly that A LOT of Korea (granted, not everyone is like that) is about saving face.  Saving the reputation and making things look all cheery and wonderful.  Even if it’s not.
Not sure if I updated on the little comment book situation, but to recap–we have little comment books for each kindergartener that float back and forth between their teachers and the parents.  Good idea in theory, because the parents can be informed of what their kid is doing in class.
Anyway, one of my girls was having a hard time paying attention in class…which is fine and completely understandable…because she’s like 5 years old (western age) and it’s kindergarten…whatever.  We’re working on it.
Anyway, her mom had asked me directly (in English) how her daughter was doing in class and with the other students because she wasn’t speaking English at home.  I proceeded to use the OREO (taught that in school..heh) method (also what they use–not called OREO though) to tell the mom.  The only thing that wasn’t strictly positive in the whole entry was when I said “______ can be easily distracted in class, but she’s a very friendly and energetic young girl, and we’re working on paying attention in class.”
Which…TO ME…sound fine.  It’s constructive and tells about what’s holding her back.  The rest just said that she was young and that this all takes time and that we’re working together on also building her confidence.
Anyway-I was told to white-out that bit and write a bit of fluff about how wonderful she was.
Teacher said she “didn’t have time to hand back the books to the parents, so not to worry”–on Tuesday.  Then, today, when I was given her book back, I check to see what they had done about the white-out bit in the book….AND…they gave her a completely new book.  The old one is nowhere to be seen..completely new book and not a word about it.

YEAH.  I know.

Anyway, there’s that and just…crap from school mostly and I just lost it.  I could feel it sort of coming through most of the morning…a sort of heaviness in my chest and it felt harder to breathe.  I just kept telling myself to fight it back…don’t cry…it’s ok…it’s just a cultural thing…just focus on the class.
Lunch time came and I left with the other foreigners and we were talking about work as we left the building (we’re on an upper floor) and I just completely lost it.  Right there in the middle of the hallway leading out of the building.  The other two teachers both gave me a giant group hug and sympathized with me and gave plenty of kind and supportive words.
The homesickness just hits hard and fast, completely when you least expect it.
That’s one of the best, BEST parts about working with other foreigners.  You’re like a tight little family away from your own family.  They know exactly what I’m going through…because they’ve been there.  One of them just went through it this past winter.  It’s all part of the process, and you learn to adapt and adjust, and you help eachother along in the process.  Celebrating during the best of times and picking eachother up and supporting eachother when times get rough.
I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  But, it’s one of those unspoken truths around here.  We’re all here for eachother.  And it’s wonderful.
As nice as it is to communicate pretty frequent contact with my family…it feels as if there’s a glass wall there.  I can see them and hear about what’s going on, but I can’t actually feel or be present in it all.  And that can be very hard.  I’m enjoying myself here though.  I’ve met great people and the money is fantastic.  And I get to travel.  It’s great.  I love, LOVE my kids and teaching…it’s just the politics of it all.

One of my co-teachers was talking with me during lunch today and she really wanted to stress to me that she thinks I’m fantastic with the kids and at teaching because I’m enthusiastic and “have the right personality for working with kids”, and she said she doesn’t want this experience (because all the schools are different…some are worse and some are better.  It’s very hit and miss) to ruin my outlook on becoming a teacher.
Look out for Number One.  (Me).
You are your first priority.
Don’t let this get to you, because it can, and they don’t give a damn if it does.  (Again, not all Koreans are like this…but as the foreigner…and as a female, you’re pretty much considered a second-class citizen.)
She also said that she thinks that there’s a bigger reason for as to why we were “chosen” to come here.  She thinks that we’re acting a bit as ambassadors and can help shape the next generation of citizens here…so that they can be prepared for living with diversity and how to treat other people.  Treat them to show respect and to have integrity so that in the future, they’ll have a chance to change the way things are.

Anyway, after lunch, I went to Zara (:-D) and did some retail therapy.  One of the few times in my life I’ve been able to do that, ha.  If you’re living check to check, retail therapy isn’t an option, unless you don’t want to eat that week.
Also, I didn’t have a lot of time because it was only a lunch break, so when I say I did some “retail therapy”, I mean that I bought 1 shirt.  haha 🙂
I also use the Jango.com app for music on my phone and took out my anger and frustration on the pavement as I walked the 15 minutes to the store and then back again.  I felt refreshed when I got back, and then finished off my day.
I was tired at the end of the day, but not feeling nearly as terrible as I did at lunch.  (BTW, I’m not sick anymore, in  case you were curious.)

THEN…I went back to my apartment and saw I had a note on the door about having a package downstairs.  (They leave a note if you’re not there and then leave it with security for you to pick up).
😀 😀 😀
I got a surprise care package from my grandma…full of Easter goodies and some pretty (fake :-P) flowers.  What amazing timing.  Lots of Easter candy and a wonderful card that just made me smile from ear to ear.
Also, the envelope said “Stacey Teacher” on the front 🙂  ie: my name at school.–It’s not Miss Stacey or anything similar.  Just your first name and “Teacher” after that.  Or just “TEACHERRRRRRRRRR!!!”
heh.  I like the first one better. 🙂

Anyway, it’s been a roller coaster of a day, and it’s time for bed.

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (x4000)
Fun weekend planned.  More on that later.  Goodnight!!
And thank you for the care package Grandma!!! Love you!!! Thank you! Thank you!!!!! 🙂

Care Package pics and pics from my “shopping spree” 🙂 haha.

Classroom footage–working on our ABCs during Phonics Class on 4.11.12

Decorating Woes and Hurrahs

So, I did the whole “WE LOVE ENGLISH” idea, and I made the letters too big for the space.  Grrrr 😦  So sad.
The head teacher said we could use them in the hallway though, which is good, but pretty sure she’s using my creativity to help decorate the school.  (We have kids schoolwork up around the school from several years ago…and if you take down pictures or signs, there’s a dark outline around whatever was hanging.  Sick.)
I like decorating, but when I see pictures online of real classrooms that teachers decorated…I’m so jealous.  I’d love to have my own room…with real supplies and books and :-/

Anyway, I did come up with my first bulletin board idea.  We don’t have to do any sort of decorating, but I think it helps spruce up my room and I like it, so ah well.
Anyway, the bulletin board.
Still working on those ABCs, but I want to switch the bulletin board over (currently ABC trains that the girls made a few weeks ago) to “Sight Words”, which are words that are used most frequently in the English language (or any language).  Knowing them helps you read…and since that’s in the direction of the next step, I’d like to help nudge them in that direction.  (Or at least get them excited for that next step).
The title will be “A Summer of Sight Words”  and I want to have a bunch of ice cream cones, and on each scoop of ice cream (many scoops on each cone) will be a new word.  (ie: the, me, if, can, you, a, I, etc.)

Like this…but in paper and bulletin board form.


Probably taking on too much again, but I hate looking at that classroom…I feel like I’ll be so much happier when it looks nice.  Blrgh.

I was going to make a new post, but I’ll just sneak this in down here to see if people are reading, ha.
This is completely unrelated to the whole bulletin board thing from above.
I’ve been toying with what I want to do when my Korea days are over…I know it’s pretty far off, but still.
(Actually…wow.  I remember that when I was younger, I used to plan pretty far into the future, and then once I get further into high school and college, the planning sort of stopped.  I knew about graduation and that sort of thing, but it was honestly because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  And it’s hard to plan much past graduation when you have no idea.)
Anyway, so…this is something I’ve been working on in my head…working on bits and pieces and different ideas (like a jigsaw puzzle) and seeing how I can make them fit into my plans.  Granted, this could all easily change in an instant, or come crashing down if I decide in 6 months that I hate teaching, and I know that.  I’m fully aware.  I just like to plan, and helps get me excited for the future.  No laughing 😛  I think it sounds pretty darn exciting.  (AND dear Lord, if I could get a boyfriend squeezed into this picture, that would be wonderful.  Please and thank you.)

The Plan (as of 4/11/12)
*Finish year 1 of teaching ESL
*return home–visit loved ones and do a tour of the West Coast (Washington, Oregon and California–plenty of friends on that side of the US that I would love to visit)
*Spend time in Australia visiting a friend over there
*Complete a second year teaching ESL here in Korea ($$$ and experience :))
*Paid return-flight home–see family
*Return to Australia to work as a pre-school teacher (no degree needed from what I’ve seen) and work on my Masters in Education while I’m there.

*Teach elementary/Get Married/Have babies/Have an awesome life.

Just a few ideas floating in my head…I think it sounds like a grand ol’ time.  🙂
The pre-school teacher thing could technically be anywhere, but Australia sounds pretty awesome.
Anyway, that’s that.  Don’t freak out, nothing is set in stone.  🙂

Dear Ol’ Bread Co (Panera Bread) Peeps…

Not sure if anyone from my old work still looks at this or not…

But if so, I have a strong craving for the chicken tortilla soup.  Sooooooo….if you could just overnight me a group soup size container…that’d be greattttt.  Thanks. 🙂
Oh wait…you do deliver, right?  😀  😛

And a few of those double fudge brownies.  Yum!

Oh, and HI!!! 🙂

Well…this is new + Expenses

You know what’s a weird feeling?

Actually wanting Monday to come, so I can go to work.

Wow.  There must be something in the water here.  lol.  😛

I wanted to wait until I had a few bills here before I did this post, and I have…so here we go.
I wanted to compare my financial stuff here to that back home.

Salary: $10.20/hr–40 hours per week
After Taxes/Take-Home Pay: about $650-$720 (depending on whether or not I hit overtime that week or not)–averaged around $650-660 every two weeks.
About $1400.00/month (at $700 every two weeks)

Rent: $465.00/mo
Car Insurance: $60/mo
Cell Phone (with data plan for smartphone): $88/mo
Student Loans 1:  $117.94/mo
Student Loans 2: $196.59/mo
Car Payment: $159.48
Gas $240/mo ($40 every 5 days at $3.40/gal):
Internet: $19
Utilities: $60 (average)–around $80 in winter and $20 in Spring
Credit Card: varies

Total: 1406.00

Good thing I had that savings account to chip away at, because I didn’t include groceries.
Granted, before I had my apartment, I had a good amount in savings, gas was cheaper and I didn’t have anything on my credit card. Then I started planning for Korea…and then I had a credit card bill.
Anyway, fun times.


Salary: 2.3 million won/month
$2, 032.32/mo (depending on the exchange rate)

Storage Unit: $72.00
Internet: (not sure yet?  like $20?)
Phone (smart phone with data plan): $54
Utilities: $20 (Feb-March)
Student Loans 1: 117.94
Student Loans 2: 196.59

Total: $480.53 + food.

2, 032
= $1552 (- food) in take-home pay.

Yes.  Seriously.
I’ve lived check to check for pretty much my entire working life, and even growing up, there was never really money to throw around.  So THAT is pretty incredible.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, and I’m sure it’ll take awhile.
My goal is to send $1000 home every month.  My credit card is kind of in a sad state right now (preparing documents to come over here is EXPENSIVE), so that’s first on the list, but then it’s going to bills, student loans and into the savings account.

Anyway, I’ve had a wonderfully productive Saturday (lots of cleaning…heh.–and I got another unit on my TEFL course done!  And I worked out for the first time since being here!!).  Feeling Good.  And really tired.
Hopefully more productivity tomorrow.  But until then…headed to bed.  Probably going to watch a movie (on my laptop…no tv) and then head to bed.  It’s just after midnight here.

Goodnight and Happy Easter!!!!!  (Easter doesn’t seem to be celebrated here…or not at least in the pastel-explosion form that we do back home :-P)