A Day in the Life of an ESL Hagwon (Private Academy) Teacher

I found this post and loved it, although her life seems a bit more…put together and structured than mine.  I thought it would be fun to write down how a “typical” day goes.

9:30 AM: My alarm goes off and I got out of bed.  I popped some oatmeal in the microwave and checked my email and Facebook.  I had some water, oatmeal and an apple and perused some new books on my Kindle.

10:15 AM: I got ready for work and went to an art store to pick up some white paper for my Halloween door (see the previous post).  (I use this time as my time for errands/work prep/laundry/cleaning/etc.)

11:30 AM: I returned home and started working on my door decor.  I cleaned up my apartment and finished the door.

12:30 PM: I made lunch for myself–spaghetti with leftover cooked chicken from last night.

1:10 PM: I put some apples, oranges, peanut butter and caramel in a bag and left for work–about a 10-15 minute walk.  I had a bag of about 8 oranges and things seem to mold very quickly around here, so I bring snacks in for my kiddos.  I also told my kiddos that they could try out apples with peanut butter and caramel yesterday.

1:20 PM:  I arrive at work, turn on the lights, unload all of my bags and turn on my computer.  (I write the date, the daily schedule and get things set up for the next day before I leave at night).

1:30 PM:  Organized the snacks, drew little pumpkin faces on the orange skin to surprise the kids and started working on correcting some student journals (Kids arrive around 1:50…usually…)  I also fill up my water bottle and get in a quick trip to the bathroom.  (I try to have as many of my materials pre-prepped before the day starts, so my mornings are usually pretty smooth.)

1:40 PM–Greet one of my students and chat to her a bit; grade journals; double check that I printed enough copies for today

1:50 PM–Students start to arrive and I remind them to get water, get out their homework and go to the bathroom.  I write the homework on the board.

2:00 PM–I close the door, remind students that it’s now class-time and to take out their homework. The students put their homework (English notebook and homework folder) on their desk and I check both and make sure they’re keeping their stuff organized.  Each kid takes home two reading books from their level home each night and they record it in their “Book Log” at the start of class.

2:15 PM: Reading time comes to a close and students use one of the four tablets in the room to take a reading test over one of their books.  They can do this by themselves, so I finish checking homework and take attendance.  I bring the attendance log to the front desk (conveniently right outside my door–small school).  I double-check the students test score (typically 3-5 questions) and write it down in their log.  Depending on their score (I take the general flow of the scores into account), I’ll bump them up a reading level, keep them at the same one or drop them down by one.  If they generally do well and bombed this particular test, I might have them take the books home again.
When students finished their book test (and got new reading books from the shelf and copied their homework), I gave them the next assignment for today which was multiple choice and matching grammar worksheet.  (Tuesday/Wednesday work)

2:30 PM: The stragglers are usually all here by now and I try to have all the testing/homework corrections and checking/etc all finished by this time.  I check that the students have copied the homework (again, all routine so they’re pretty good at this now).  If we get a new kid, I partner them up with someone else for about a week (or two…) until they learn the routine and feel comfortable.

2:30-2:50 PM: Everyone is working on their grammar and I check through it when they finish.  I use a different colored pen each time I check it.  I make the grammar sheets myself and try to put things that I know they have trouble with or things that I see they have issues with when they write in their diary/journal.

2:50-2:55 PM–5 minute break (not usually for me, unless I’m super quick)
They can have a small snack, work on the puzzle (I got a cheap one from the dollar store so they don’t run amok in the room) or work on a Halloween paper chain that I started up.  They can also finish copying homework and chat with their friends in Korean.  I remind them to use the  bathroom and get water.  (We have a bathroom pass so there’s only one out at a time).
Sometimes I’ll put a funny video or an English TV show clip on via Youtube and the Smartboard (Lucky us!)

3 PM (ish): Put away all of their class folders, pencils, etc.  We read our class book together with “Popcorn Reading”–the students say “Pop!” and pick who will read next.  We started this particular book already so it goes a bit faster today.

3:10-3:30PM–Work on parts of the workbook together

3:30-3:45 PM–They finish the workbook by themselves

3:45-3:50 PM–Cleanup: straighten the bookshelves, put away pencils, class folders (“yellow folders”) and I call them to the door to line up (based on how good they were today) and dismiss around 3:55.

The next class is lined up outside the door and they come in after the first class leaves.

Class 2 starts at 4PM

4-4:30 PM: Same as the first class

4:30-5:05 PM–Read their class reading book and start on their workbook (which is longer and more difficult)

5:05-5:10 PM–Break

5:15-5:45 PM–We finished the workbook for today(not all the way finished–on purpose because I have some kids that are MWF and I don’t want them to be too far behind tomorrow) and then did the grammar worksheet.  The 4PM and 6PM class have a longer worksheet than the first class (except two kids in the first class who are *nearly* strong enough to handle it, so I give the difficult one to them as a challenge).

5:45-6PM–Cleanup, Line-up and the last class comes in

I had two stragglers today and T/TH is a really small class so they got started around 6:10.  I chatted with the first kids as they got their stuff out.

6-6:20 PM (faster…usually)–These kids are older and my most advance (*my* most advanced, not *the* most advanced)
Book tests were finished then we popcorn read their book til about 6:55 then break.

7-7:15 PM–Worked on their workbook–We didn’t do a whole lot in it today because of the whole MWF//T/TH thing and missing students.  Gave them their grammar worksheet and they worked on it til 7:50 (nearly finished)

7:45-7:50 PM: Cleanup: straighten tables, desks, folders and the bookshelf (etc…) and dismiss around 7:55

Sometimes they help write tomorrow’s date on the board and change out the “Today is ______”/ “Tomorrow will be _________” velcro strips but we were running out of time, so we skipped it today.

I tidied up the room (cleaned the desks, straightened the bookshelf again), cleaned off my desk and shut off my computer.
I left around 8:10PM and came home to make dinner.

9:00-10:30 PM–Made a Powerpoint on Halloween traditions for Friday’s class, checked my email, looked at new pictures from the photographer for the Zombie Race, researched teaching certifications

11-12:15 AM (now)–Working on the blog then I’ll clean up from dinner, feed my hamster and get ready for bed

I usually work out in the evenings after dinner (around 10), but I wanted to get this Powerpoint finished.

With my classes, they’re roughly on a similar schedule:
Mondays:
New Vocab
Tuesday:
Grammar + New Book 1 + start on the workbook
Wednesday:
Wrap-up stuff from Tuesday + Book 1 + Workbook
Thursday:
Read Book 2 + Workbook
Friday:
Spelling Game and Tests + Finish Workbooks + Journaling/Movie/Wrap-up

Oh and the kids really liked the apple and PB//apple and caramel combos! 😀  I have a “you must try a bite” rule when I bring stuff in.  I say it’s ok if they hate it, but I want them to try it.  They gave me concerned looks when I spooned the peanut butter and the caramel blobs onto their plate, but nearly everyone finished.
I only had enough apples for the first class (which is who I promised it to), but they were a big hit, so I’m going to get more apples for the later classes too.

Annnnd good night!

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