The Tide is Turning

Woooow!  What a week.

*Moved out and in with a co-worker
*Closed my bank account
*Had my last days (MWF and T/TH) at work
*Had a pizza and wine night last night with my co-workers
*Caught a cold (not surprising–stress, being super busy and lots of sick kids…)

And here we are…my last weekend in Korea.

I’m actually not doing anything major to mark the occasion or anything.  I’m just exhausted from this week so just mostly hanging out around my friend’s place and grabbing coffee with a few peeps.

I broke down on Thursday when I was working 1-1 with one of my favorite girls.  We were working together on her homework and I ended up having to excuse myself because I couldn’t stop crying.  Er..
I’m not sure how I feel about crying in front of kids…I just felt like I shouldn’t at the time because I didn’t want her to feel worse or whatever, but then it also shows how much I care about her.  I mentioned that I would write to her if she wanted, and she came in the next day (Friday) and reminded me about it.  I didn’t want her to feel forced to when I mentioned it on Thursday during our 1-1, so I’m happy that she came up and said something yesterday.

Also, I just wanted to give a shout-out to myself.  I am sort of amazed at how much I’ve gotten accomplished this week.  Granted, I’ve worn myself into the ground and am physically and emotionally drained..but I got everything on my to-do list done.  Woo!  It was hard because I basically worked right up until the day of my flight and only had a few hours each morning to make sure that I got to each of the various government offices and sold everything that I needed to sell.  Just a few small things this weekend and…the flight on Monday morning (morning starting at 4am to catch the airport bus…hoo.rah.)

Anyway, this post is a grammatical mess and is as disorganized as my own brain, so here are some pictures.

 

And another favorite song:

All Of Me (Cover)–Max and Zendaya [John Legend]

 

Advertisements

February: Let The Insanity Begin!

Well, we’re a day into February here and going by this first week, it’s going to be one heck of a hectic month.

Today’s Monday and I’m already booked with stuff to do through Saturday, starting with as soon as I wake up in the morning.  Most of it is meeting with people who want to buy my stuff, which is good, but also exhausting.  I met with 5 people yesterday–every few hours.

I’m also about 2/3 finished with part 1 of my online CPR course, which I’m hoping to finish tonight if possible.  I’ll review a bit closer to when I get home then take the practical portion of the exam when I get back home.
Other stuff: meeting with my landlord to make sure I’m not forgetting anything for my move-out date, a birthday party, and misc. errands.
I also have to break down my closet organizer thing and find some boxes for it.  Hoping to do that tomorrow…which also means I’ll begin living out of suitcases…hoorah!  haha
Then tomorrow, a co-worker and some people from her church are taking my oven and a ton of my baking stuff, so now my kitchen is nearly bare.  I’ve got like 5 bags of stuff for her, haha.  Adding in some Tupperware and all the flour and sugar I’ve got since she’s buying so much already.

I think the hardest part of selling stuff is actually getting all the pictures taken and uploaded.  I have to take all my stuff off, clean up the surrounding area and then put everything on again.  It’s like having a toddler.  Making a mess then cleaning it up again.  On repeat.

Oh, and I’ve organized my farewell party, which is surreal in itself.  I’ve been to so many of them myself and now it’s my turn.

I’m also not going to have time for the gym at all this week which kind of sucks.

Ah well, anyway…off to work on that CPR course.  I’m already looking forward to that 12-hour flight.  Actual time to rest.  Oh, and we have a 5 day weekend this weekend–hoorah for Lunar New Year! 😀 Blessss you!!!

Songs for the month:

‘The Final Countdown’–Europe

‘Take Me Home’–Cash Cash (Chainsmokers Remix)

Life So Far in 2015 (and bits about my trip home)

I’m back in Korea and settling back into daily life here.  I’m actually pretty happy because I’m doing a nice job of kicking jet lag in the teeth.  Thankfully in most part due to work, heh.  The first night I slept about 4 hours even though I was exhausted…(1 car trip to the airport in LA, 3 flights, an overnight sleep in the airport, a 2.5 hour bus ride from the airport and a taxi ride to my house). Yeahhhh…that makes for a very sleepy me.
Work has also been keeping me busy, especially that first day.  The first day I not only was on 4 hours of sleep, but we started our new term (new students, updating the classroom, clearing out stuff from any old students) and catching myself up from what the sub did while I was away.  We also just got our student rosters on the first day of classes (typical hagwon-style).  Then my classes, which are back-to-back.  So, by the end, I was completely wiped out.  I finish now around 8:30, but I stayed til 9:30 entering grades from the tests they took while I was away and updating my classroom for the new classes/students.

Yesterday was much better. I don’t mind staying late if it’s going to help make things run more smoothly for the following days.  Also, I bought two maps off Amazon while I was in the US–one world map and one map of the US.  They’re actually pretty big, which I was expecting to an extent, but I was still a bit shocked at the size when I opened them up.  I’m really happy with them now that they have a place in the room though.  I also took down our Christmas decorations yesterday.
Combined with doing laundry, unpacking, making meals and meeting a friend for brunch…my past two days have been crazy.  It’s also rough with new students because you begin again with everything, so I realized I took for granted how much my kids had learned and I’m working on teaching our routine to my newest bunch in my beginner class.  It’s a good opportunity to tweak things, but also exhausting when you need to explain everything again. My last bunch were (are–just in my next level class) fairly self-sufficient and now I’m going to be working on those skills with the new kiddos.

I’ve heard that jet lag goes away more quickly when you travel in one direction rather than the other, and it looks like it might be east–>west.  🙂  I was kept pretty busy at home too and I didn’t adjust any faster, I was just exhausted.  I know you’re supposed to ease yourself back into the time change–keep active and adjust your lifestyle to the new one–but go slowly at first…but life doesn’t always allow for that.  I’m just keeping an eye out for signs of illness now.

Anyway, so home was great…maybe a bit *too* great because coming back was a bit rough.  My mom took off work for most of my time at home and she helped me a ton by taking me to and from various places and treating me to meals at my favorite places.  I ate tons of great food, went shopping (and spent too much money…oops…), reunited with friends and got to spend my first Christmas at home since my last in 2011.
I bought my second cousin (we need a better term for that–this one sounds awkward) Jordan a personalized book from iseeme.com.  They have so many cute books there and the prices are reasonable.  Since I’ve ordered two (another for my friend’s nephew here in Korea) I get all sorts of discount codes in my email too.  My Korean friend said that she could tell it was a “Western-style” book because it encouraged kids to be whatever they wanted, and not only a doctor or scientist.

This one here.
The books are super cute and great quality.  If you’re poking around the site and debating ordering, I’m 100% satisfied with the books and will use them again if the need arises.  🙂

Next I went to Los Angeles to visit some friends and be a tourist 🙂  I’ve never been to the west coast, so that was pretty cool too.  I had a day flight, so I got to see some of the scenery from down below and the deserts were pretty awesome…Nevada, I’m guessing.  Maybe I’ll have to look at that giant map in my classroom, heh.
I spent 5 days there and saw most of the main touristy things there…and maybe fell a bit in love with California…
  
Walk of Fame                                                       Hollywood Sign!

Cool shopping center in Hollywood–This is one of the best locations to view the Hollywood sign (at least from where I saw anyway).  They have a hiking trail sort of by it, but you can’t get to the actual sign itself (saves it from vandalism etc.)

Venice Beach–It was a rainy and oddly chilly day in December, so there weren’t many people out.  The beach has a bike trail which I thought was awesome.  It’d be nice to be able to run/bike etc on the beach without having the sand flying in your face (and minus all the extra effort of running on sand).

Introduced to the gloriousness of deep-fried Oreos…


Venice Beach

Santa Monica Pier

I also went to In-and-Out, which everyone recommended I do while on the West Coast.  Overall another great (and delicious) trip.  For New Years, I went to my host-friend’s friend’s place and we had a party there.  It was basically a big bbq.  Anyway, that was cool too.

I thiiiink I’m all updated…I still need to upload those journal pics from my Japan trip, but my journal is at the gym and I don’t start up again there until Monday (wanted to get re-acclimated here and not need to worry about missing gym time on top of everything else).
I’ll take updated classroom pics when I get there today now that everything is all caught up.

Random Junk on My Mind:
**I got a new laptop battery and my laptop now lasts hours instead of 30 minutes when unplugged from the wall (hurrah!)
**Wishing my brain would stop with the decorating ideas for my apartment–trying to save for post-Korea (and maybe Budapest…)
**Signed up for ultimate frisbee again in the spring
**Munch-a-Saurus is back in my life (my hamster)
**PENPAL LETTERS made it to the US…finally…after like a month, sheesh.  That’s longer than a care package.  Such a huge relief though.  I think I’m still waiting on one more envelope (1 of 4), but all the letters are pretty much finished by the sounds of it and headed back this way.  We just changed classes around, so it could get interesting, but still relieved that they’ve made it over.

**Also must finish report cards by Friday…already ready for the weekend, but thankfully it’s Wednesday…
**I brought back a ton of stuff for my students too–Pixie Stix, Warheads (sour candy), maps, Mr. Sketch scented markers (which they’re amazed by… 🙂 ), Crayola crayons and colored pencils (Crayola wax crayons are about $10/box here) and a Magnetic Poetry kit.  I got my kit when it was on sale for Christmas though 🙂  We just put it out yesterday and it might be a bit hard, but better than the ABC letters that were up previously.  I’ll give them a few months and report back 🙂

*BREAKFAST IDEAS?–Any chefs out there?  We have like 4 kinds of cereal here and I’m getting burnt out with my oatmeal.  Help 😦  I’ve been doing combinations of fruit, yogurt and oatmeal, but looking for something else.  I was thinking of doing more eggs but they’re always too brown and dry and that puts me off making them.  (Plus, more mess to clean up.)  Fruit is expensive here btw.
Thinking about these breakfast cups...easy, healthy, quick and minimal mess.

Another doozy of a post.

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
CAM03645CAM03646

AFTER (as of Tuesday)
CAM03759 CAM03761

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!

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.