When Stressed: Make Lists

…no really, that’s my go-to.  Lists, lots of lists.

This is also a perfect description of my life right now.  All those kids that never normally take a sick day when they’re hacking up a lung everywhere have now decided (when we have A LOT to get finished) that now they’ll be absent.  My favorite is when I hear from the front desk that “x has a stomachache and won’t be here today.  He probably won’t be here tomorrow either.”
Ain’t no big thing.  Not like we’ve got a zillion things to finish before Friday.
Anyway, I also have a few super-fast workers that are finished with everything (as of Tuesday…good work!) and now the job is to keep them occupied while the stragglers finish up.  I’ve been pushing them and reminding them for two weeks about what we’re doing and when it needs to be finished by, and now they’re acting all surprised that we need to be finished by/before Friday.
I have a fun day planned, so they need to be finished to participate.

I also noticed that I bring a lot of this stress onto myself.
Brain: “Hey!  You know what would be fun and a great treat for the kids after two weeks of hard work?  Cookies!  They could make Christmas cookies!” “Yeah, yeah, what a great idea!”

Brain Today: “Wtf.  This is still a fun idea, but why do I get myself in these situations.  Yes, cookies will be fun…but is there a less…messy and exhausting activity?  Maybe coloring for the two hours and I can nap in the corner?”

haha 😛  I still love doing things for the kids, though and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I just wish my brain would pace itself a bit or something.

I also made a To-Do list for the next few days as preparation for leaving the country for two weeks/sub-prep etc…and it’s 4 pages.  FOUR PAGGGGGGESSSSS.  Yes.  Really.  Four.
Granted, it’s in a smaller notebook and it’s double-spaced and such, but…FOUUUUURRRR PAGGGGESSS.

I also wrote a few things that I’ve already accomplished so I can cross them out and feel better when I look at it.
Also, my Christmas shopping is 99% finished.
And I have 10+ hours on the plane to write out Christmas cards and read on my Kindle, so that’ll be nice.  I hope my brain will finally be able to quiet down during that time.  It’s like a circus in there right now, heh.  Thankfully…lists.  They help me keep my sanity.

Anyway, bedtime.
Here’s to knocking out a page or two on the ol’ list and another productive day tomorrow.

//Oh!  And I made a bunch of Christmas cookies on the weekend and I gave them out today.  I felt a bit like Santa 🙂  I gave little baggies to the cashiers at E-Mart (a chain grocery store/super giant) and two tins of cookies to my hairdresser ( who doesn’t really speak English, but she’s always super nice) and her team and two to the people at my favorite coffee shop.  😀
I still have few bags leftover from the Emart group, so I think I’m going to give them to my neighbors…I’ve already had quite a few “samples”.  Good thing it’s winter though. 😀

Nervous…

Feeling a bit anxious/nervous because none of the penpal letters have made it to their recipients in the US yet.  I have 3 different envelopes out and still waiting on all three of them.  I sent them 2 weeks ago, so I’m not sure why they’re taking this long.  They’re just letters 😦  There are about 50-70 students waiting on these letters…c’mon postal service, c’mon! 😦

Smooth Sailing!

My students were in beast-mode today…some finished their workbooks on their first book today, which was great. Others are getting close and everyone should hopefully be finished by Friday.  Minus my oldest student…he’s still powering through his workbook though.  Giving a good effort and we had some 1-1 time today, so that was good.

To clarify,the students have to read a book (depends on their grade level, not ability level) and answer the chapter questions (2 pages for each with pictures) at the back of the book.  Then, we’ll work on a packet that sort-of goes with their book as well.  The questions are directly related and the packet is 4-ish pages that is basically like “write 4 words that you learned from this book and draw a picture.”  It’s just a general packet that goes with most non-fiction books.  From what I’ve seen anyway.
That is part of a competition (the packet).  The questions are more time-consuming, and I think some other teachers are skipping the questions and just going straight to the packets.  I’m not sure, but that’s what it sounded like.
Anyway, I must be that tough teacher then, lol.  The one I always dreaded because I’m making them do the questions.  I think it’s better because it checks their reading and it should make the packets easier.  Which we should get to on Friday.  Woot!  Go! Go!

Thennnn, next week we have another book (same structure) for fiction next week.  These books seem easier (vocabulary and size) so they should be able to push through them a bit quicker than the books from this week.  There also seem to be less questions and there are more of the ‘circle the correct answer’ variety.
The non-fiction questions have them writing their own answers, doing wordsearch puzzles, circling the correct answer, matching…etc.  It’s really good, just time consuming.

Anyway, I’m thinking we should be finished by mid next week with everything and I’m thrilled about it.
I’m going to stick in their regular class workbooks as well, so we can get caught up there too.

Our term is ending the last week in January (when the sub is here) and we’ll start a new term when I get back on Monday, so everything that can be finished should essentially be finished by that date.  IE: should be finished by next Friday so I don’t push anything time-critical onto the sub’s shoulders.  She’ll only have a 4-day week as well, so I don’t want it to be stressful for her, or for me to have to worry about things getting finished on time.

So, it looks like that is on track as well.  After today, I can’t even tell you how good it feels to have everything coming together.  I only have 4 kids in my last class and they’re all nearly finished.  One girl was finished and 2 of the boys were doing really well towards the end of class.  One had like 2 chapters left (what I have been assigning for homework) and another had 3 but seemed eager to finish.  Then, I have the oldest student…which…has a ways to go.   The first three should finish up tomorrow and the oldest is MWF, so we’ll see how things went for him when he’s back on Friday.
I think we should be able to knock out the packet tomorrow and then be completely finished with the non-fiction book by Friday.  Take our weekly test and perform their powerpoint presentations (also going on in the background these days) on Friday, finish their regular class workbook tomorrow and Friday.  Bada-bing, bada-boom!  If all goes according to plan, everything will be finished on Friday.
Ahhhh, feeling good.

My plan for class for next Friday (my last day before vacation) is to do what I mentioned a few weeks (days?) ago.  I’m going to have a holiday-cookie baking “contest” with the first two classes.  Give them each a recipe and put them into teams then have them work to make their cookies.  So, they’ll be baking cookies, take their weekly spelling test and have their Friday movie.  Sounds like a fun last day before break 😀 I’m hoping to send some cookies home with them (likely to be eaten on the bus or on the stairs going down to the bus…) with a recipe book and Christmas music CD (no lyrics or fancy bag this time, just a CD).  The older kids will help me use up a crap-ton of graham crackers that I have in my pantry, and we’ll make gingerbread houses.

Sooooo yeah, busy busy!  But I like that it feels that we’re getting a lot done.  It feels very productive and I loooove it.  I’m a huge project-y person and I love the feeling when a project is finished.
I’m also waiting to hear back from the teachers in the US to see if they’ve received the penpal letters yet…they should be there by now…If I don’t hear anything by Friday then I’ll send a message over to check-in.

WHEW.

Anyway, ramble ramble.

Rearranged the reading area because my books were taken down to the library
BEFORE
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AFTER (as of Tuesday)
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Moved the bookshelf over and now it’s used for extra classroom supplies (tissues, glue sticks, paper, plates, colored pencils, etc.)  and the seating area is bigger.  I sent the puzzle down to the library and the magnet board with ABC magnets is back in action.  I also got 2 more pillows from the dollar store (6 now).  I honestly pay more in time than in money.  It’s only a bit per month that I put in, but I think the kids enjoy our room so it makes it worth it.
I’m planning on doing some sort of canopy/tent thing in this area after break as well.  For the…children? 😀 haha

Goodnight!

In Memory

I just realized yesterday, that the anniversary of my dad’s passing was on December 8.  I remembered in the days leading up, but I guess I just got busy or something. :-/
I…I feel a bit like I’m forgetting him as the time goes on and I’m terrified of what that’s going to be like in 10…20…years from now.  I still remember certain memories but a lot of it seems to be fading, even though I do have pictures around my apartment.  Is this normal?  How can you start to forget your own parent??  Not forgetting that they exist…but it’s now been seven years since he died and it feels like a lifetime ago already.  Maybe not even forgetting…everything just feels further away or a bit more fuzzy and distant.
I also used to feel like he was close to me and watching over or something, but I don’t have that feeling anymore.

I know this is a personal post, but I wanted to get it out and hopefully I’m not alone in this.  :-/

Takin’ Care of Business

Another quick post…more productivity, yada yada.

First off, got all those ‘My Hero’ papers submitted..whew!  We’re now fully working on the book + workbook competition/challenge and it’s definitely a challenge.  The kids are assigned a book based on their grade level in school and the level seems to be higher than what most of the kids are ready for.  For some of them, I think it’s a good challenge…not too hard, but hard enough.  However, my oldest student is on his own because he’s the oldest that I personally teach, so he is in the last category for books…except his reading level isn’t high enough for the book he’s reading.
There are different books with different topics, but they all have about the same reading level/word choice, etc.  The book I picked from the group is about food around the world.  It looked cool and has some fun pictures, but the first chapter is about proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  The second chapter is about Food Producers.  It talks about different crops that farmers around the world make.  The food bit comes in more later. It’s just that…he doesn’t know body parts past the basics (the topic I chose for the youngest group because I think words like “muscle” and “brain” are good ones to know).
It’s just rough because he doesn’t understand most of what the book is talking about…and he has to answer questions on it.
He’s also Monday/Wednesday/Friday, so I can’t give him as much help as I plan to do with the others in his class.
The book is 30+ pages…
All of them at that level are about the same amount of pages though.  Oi.
It’s not the length though…he reads books that are already that many pages…I just can’t explain the book if he doesn’t understand 80% of the words.

*sigh*

I dunno, I’m hoping to have these books and workbooks finished by about Friday, so we can hopefully knock out book 2 (one fiction and one non-fiction) next week.

Anyway, the bosses are taking the books from our classrooms and putting all of them in the library downstairs and my classroom is the last to go.  I stayed late tonight and moved around some furniture and re-organized the classroom and some bookshelves a bit.  I brought about half of our books down to the library today (didn’t want to overwhelm the people downstairs) and converted the bookshelf into a sort-of supply shelf. I have all of the crayons, extra tissues, paper plates, plasticware, etc on it.
I think it sounds tacky as I explain it, but it actually looks really nice.  I have things labeled and now everything has a place (yay!).  Also, since we’re not using it as a bookshelf anymore, I moved it over a bit and expanded the reading mat area.
I also put our class puzzle (for breaktime) in the library downstairs.  The puzzle was sitting on our magnet board that we used for the abc magnets and I wanted to make use of that (was tired of looking at the puzzle that is taking ages to be finished.)
Anyway, it looks super nice and I’m planning on getting two more cheap throw pillows from Daiso (dollar store) tomorrow to add to the new/bigger reading space.

I’m also still realllllllllly wanting to convert it to a fort by putting a sheet on top and adding in some Christmas lights.  But not sure if that makes me crazy or not, haha.  My kids would absolutely die if they saw it.  Classrooms here typically don’t have all the bright colors and such…much less a reading fort (ie: a sheet hanging over an empty space, haha).

Typical Korean Elementary School Classrooms:

American Style Elementary Classroom

Similar, yet different.
I still remember my 4th grade classroom.  The teacher made a giant tree out of paper and it stretched from the floor onto the ceiling.  We had our free-reading area over by the tree.  There were beanbag chairs and mats to lounge on.  Super fun. I hope to create something memorable with my room too.
I try to make it a fun place that works for me and a room that makes me happy to be in, and hopefully they are too.  They seem to like when things are switched around or added for the holidays.  I like when they come in and start exploring the changes, haha 🙂

Anyway, I’m happy that Monday is finished.  A long, but productive day.  They feel good, but they can really wear you out.
Good thing I have those 20-something hours in the airplane coming up..hopefully I can rest then.  haha 😀

Preparations and Stuff…and Titles Are No Fun

First off, I got all but one of the “My Hero” papers finished on Friday…wahoo!  Feeling prettty fantastic.
Second, tomorrow should be pretty interesting as well.  I usually have 3 different spelling lists for the 3 different classes that I teach, but this week I’m going to give them out based on their grade level (and corresponding reading books) that they’re working on.
On Mondays we talk about our new spelling words, so some kids will be having different lists.  I think I’ll just group them up though, so shouldn’t be too bad…just a bit crazy at first.

Third, I bought some plane/travel clothes for my flight-a-palooza coming up.  I have a fleece jacket that is basically a white soft, fuzzy blanket made into a jacket.  (Good work designers, I approve.)  I also got this skirt/leggings combo that’s super popular over here…which is also lined with soft fabric (not fleece…but warm) inside.  Great for layers.  Paired with some fuzzy wool socks and UGG-esque boots.  I’m going to be one comfy lady. 🙂
It’s also hard not to be in a good mood when your jacket feels like your bed on a Saturday morning.  haha 🙂

I also have Christmas gifts either bought or at least planned for for 98% of everyone on my list.  So…feeling good.

Oh and T-13 days.

Rest? What Is This ‘Rest’ You Speak Of?

Busy busy, as ever.  It’s not necessarily bad, but I’m feeling it.

So let’s see…just finished the penpal letters, and all the students at our school have been working on a composition of sorts on the topic “My Hero”.  (If I hear the word “Hero” again after this week, my head is going to burst and fizzle.)
All of the students wrote on the topic about 2 weeks back, but some were going to be entered into a contest so they were a bit longer than the others (100 words to be exact).  We had the other students write it, but it didn’t have to be as long.

Anyway, fast forward to this week…we learned that they now want everyone to enter the contest.  The thing is, some students took their papers home (ie: are now lost forever) and/or they weren’t long enough, so they (me) have to write/stretch it out to make it 100 words. Even the youngest kids.  Combined with the fact that some kids are MWF kids and some have missed days this week because they had a big test at their regular school.  So trying to get everyone finished has been a pain in the neck.
Alllllso, we have another contest that the kids are doing.  There are two reading books for the kids that include chapter comprehension worksheets.  There are 3 different non-fiction books for kids in grades 1-2, grades 3-4 and 5-6, and 3 more books but with fiction.  So, each kid does 2 books, 2 worksheets and then a workbook for each book as well.
I actually really like the books as they’re interesting and good reads for the kids, but it gets tough when you have kids from different grade levels in one class.
Combined again with the fact that kids miss class periodically throughout the week and/or are MWF kids.
I’m hoping that a lot of my kids aren’t absent tomorrow so I can finish the rest of that ‘My Hero’ business and move fully onto the new competition next week.

I’m thinking of putting them into groups (or solo, in some cases) and just rotating around and such…but with different spelling lists (for the different books) too…oi.
The ‘My Hero’ needs to be all finished by all students by next Wednesday and all of the book challenge/competition thing needs to be finished by the end of the month (or 12.19 for me).

I have it all fairly organized, but it just feels chaotic to me with all of these books going on…and my desk is a hot mess.  I also feel bad for the kids because of all of the workbooks and stuff we’re throwing at them this month.

Anyway, still teaching the different holidays (it’s short, so it’s not that big of a deal) and tomorrow/today/Friday, I’m planning on getting pizza for the first two classes.  My classes are small and I just got paid yesterday so I don’t mind.
I just want to reward them (and myself) for getting through a tough/busy-as-hell week.
We’re going to work our butts off the first part of class to finish as much as possible from this week and then have our movie Friday with pizza.  Sounds good to me 🙂
The first class (youngest kiddos) were super excited when I mentioned pizza for tomorrow, haha.
I didn’t say anything to the second class about it, but I mentioned it a few weeks (2 months? 1 month?) ago that they could get it if they start doing better on turning in their homework and working harder in class…and they’ve been doing so.  Plus…this week.  It would be a nice surprise for them too.
I was working with one kid (a few actually, but one in particular from that class) about not asking for your reward.  He was asking about the pizza nearly every day and saying “Teacher, Are we being good today?”  “Teacher, how is our homework today?”  “Teacher, can we get pizza today?”
I’ve nearly got him to stop asking about it so I think it’d be another good time to surprise them.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, I found another girl to be a sub (the first one fell through because of visa issues…not sure if I mentioned it), and she’s supposed to be coming by to meet front-desk-lady tomorrow evening.  She has a lot of teaching experience, so I think it should be good.  I haven’t met her in person, but I think it should be alright.  I’ll see her tomorrow and hopefully that goes well.

i also want to get all these competition things out of the way so when the sub comes I’ll have the kids back on their regular schedule and it’s less chaotic for her.  She can just pop in and teach and not have to worry about deadlines or who has finished what.

Movies planned for tomorrow:
Youngest kids: ‘Barney and the Backyard Gang–Waiting For Santa’  (I remember this clear as day from my childhood :D)
Next two classes: ‘Elf’

Movie time is also rest-time for me.  I’m planning to cancel their spelling test for tomorrow as well.  We’ve had a lot of students missing days this week because of their big test in elementary school on Wednesday and sick kids, so it’ll be a nice rest for everyone.

3 of my 5 kids in my last class (super tiny class, I know) are sick.  2 are coughing almost constantly and 1 lost his voice yesterday because of all the coughing.  I might get some cough drops and store them in my room…

**Oh, AND we only have 1 copy of each of the 6 books and workbooks, so I have to copy all the books and the coordinating workbook for each student.  Depending on their grade level.

Oh annnnnd I have one kindergarten student in my first class that can’t read at the same level the 1st/2nd grade kids are able to read at, much less do the workbook or book questions.

And, time to pass out.  2 weeks.  2 weeks.

Holiday Time + Hanukkah!

I did a short Powerpoint presentation on Hanukkah today with all 3 classes and then they made their own menorahs 🙂

They had never heard of Hanukkah, so I was really happy with my decision to teach them about 3 of the major winter holidays.  They learned about latke, menorahs, dreidles and gelt.  I feel more knowledgeable too, haha.  I did quite a bit of research putting the powerpoint together.

I’m looking for a fun Hanukkah-related movie for our movie day on Friday to help wrap up the week so it’s not just today, but there don’t seem to be that many.

hanukkah

I also decorated the rest of the classroom today 😀

holiday1
Classroom–the garland has white twinkle lights in it (super fun when we have the lights off for a video clip)
holiday2
O
ur classroom door

Back to Hanukkah, I was also toying with the idea of trying to make latke (fried potato pancakes), but I have no idea how those would keep throughout the day…probably not well.  Might just stick with the movie.

I also had a super religious 5-year old in my first class and I was a bit nervous talking about Hanukkah with him there because I didn’t want him to run and tell his mom that we were learning about different religions.  Anyway, he seemed to enjoy it when the Dreidle song started up in the presentation, and I still think it’s good for them to learn about the different holidays.  I had some students in my second class who were shocked when I said Christmas isn’t the only holiday in winter.
Anyway, so far so good!  I’m also loving how the menorahs turned out 😀  Lots of creativity in those pictures 🙂

Also, I learned that our front desk girl that has been there since before I was there is being let go because she wants to go to the US for a week for her friend’s wedding.  (Keep in mind that we work all through the year with only 10 days of vacation).  Head Front Desk lady said that Korean people don’t need vacation..soo…yeah.
She’s always been super nice and great with the kids and parents, so it’s a bit of a shock.  She’s being replaced by another Korean girl who doesn’t speak any English… :-/
Should be…interesting…
Trying to keep positive though.  At least she gets to go to her friend’s wedding?  And she’ll still be in our city…so…that’s good.  *sigh*
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

But, to end on a positive note–I sent out all the penpal letters today! (and yesterday–stragglers…)  Wahoo!  I love projects and I love this one, but it’s also really nice to have it all finished and out of my hair and thoughts.  I was going to include some Korea presents/candy, but I’m also hesitant about sending candy and such because I don’t want the other teachers in the US to feel obligated or anything to send stuff, especially because sending stuff from the US to Korea seems to be more expensive.

Anyway, goodnight!  Hope it’s warmer where you are 😀