Learning to Fly–Part 2

I’m probably going to be updating a lot more in the days leading up to the flight home.  I’ve got a lot of emotions swirling around inside me and it seems like they change every hour or so.  I mainly just want to try to document all the things I’m feeling now so I can preserve them for future years.

I’ve been asked a few times now how I’m feeling and it’s quite  difficult question to answer.  I’m excited (and nervous, but mostly excited) about whatever lies ahead, but also heartbroken over the friends and students that I’m leaving behind.  I love the friends I’ve met here, but I’m not feeling as sad about that because there’s always the possibility that we’ll cross paths in the future.  It does feel weird though that we can’t (won’t be able to) call each other up and go out for drinks or coffee.
I’m more upset about leaving my students.  Like, heartcrushingly upset.  I’ve had a handful of them for the whole two years that I’ve been at my school and it feels a bit like I’m their parent.  I’ve watched them grow up and change.  They’ve learned a lot and have developed into wonderful young people, and…the fact that it’s just going to end and that I won’t see them again just makes my heart ache.
In a regular elementary school or if I were staying and they were leaving the school, there’d still be that chance that I might run into them on the street or at the grocery store, and this just feels very final.  I also don’t really know how to tell them that I’m leaving without making a big announcement or whatever.  I do want to tell them though because I don’t want them to wonder where I am the following Monday.

I was thinking of giving them my American address and letting them know they can write to me if they want, but I also don’t know how to do go about doing that.  I had a classroom up until our new semester/term started in January and now I’m in our school library (easier for me to leave in the middle of the term, than if I had my own room) and now I see all of the students.  So, I haven’t had a chance to get as close to them as my own kids that I had in my classroom.  I don’t want to be playing favorites or anything.
I personally haven’t said anything to the kids yet (it’s also frowned upon if you do it too early because parents might pull their kids out( loss of business for the school) if you start mentioning it too early, but apparently one of the front desk ladies had mentioned it to one student’s mom and the girl is upset.  She’s one of my favorite kiddos…just a star.  She’s so smart and kind and just a great kid.  I’m thinking of having one of my Korean friends translate a sentence or two for me so I can tell her how proud I am of her.  She’s good with English but we haven’t gotten to words like “proud/proud of” yet, and I don’t want anything to get lost in translation.

Anyway, I’ve also been getting hit with waves of “this is the last time that I’ll be doing x”.  I haven’t cried yet, but I have moments where I get hit with nostalgia and just different memories.  The reality is starting to sink in and I just keep telling myself “You’re doing so great.  Everything is going to be fine.”
I’m also trying to keep myself in the present to try and…I guess cement the memories and emotions as best I can.  It’s pretty easy to get swept away with all the things that I have to do and to get caught up in future plans.  I’ve got a fairly good balance going and I think I’m right on track as far as getting things done.  I have to remind myself of that from time to time.  Thankfully I’ve trained that inner voice of mine and I’m usually pretty kind to myself.
As far as keeping in the present goes, I think I’m also mentally a week ahead because it feels like I’m leaving in a couple of days rather than just over a week.  Which, thankfully I still have that week because I still have stuff to do, but I’m trying to keep myself from getting too far ahead to where I start missing out on the present.

Tonight (it’s 10pm on Saturday here) I met up with one of my best Korean friends and her nephew.  (He’s visiting from another city and staying with her for a few days.)  I’ve met him a few times and apparently he talks about me a lot, ha.  So tonight we met up at Starbucks and he drew me a picture and wrote a little message (in Korean) and then we all went for dinner after.  It was a goodbye dinner of sorts as well.  I’m going to see that friend next weekend (my last weekend) as well, so that will be the official goodbye.
I think all these “last x” and goodbyes actually make it more difficult and painful to leave.  Part of me wishes I could just get on the next bus to the airport and just get it over with.

Anyway, 5 days til I move out of my apartment and 5 more days of work!
We’re in the home stretch now!

(Note: Moving out of my apartment early because I have to be out of my place when they do the inspection–moving in with a co-worker on Thursday, last day of work on Friday, flight on Monday.)

Updates and Future Posts

Such a good day today.  My kiddos were pretty well-behaved and we were nice and productive…as compared to Wednesday when half of them seemed to have an overdose of crazy pills before class.

We got everything wrapped up from the week and I got to get some much-needed almost 1-1 time with two boys in my last class of the day who are having the most trouble. The other two boys (who are much more chatty and have better English) have been absent for two days and I’m getting quality time with the other two.  Good stuff (another bonus of working in the after-school/hagwon system versus at the school with 30+ kids.)

Anyway, I have a few posts that I’m working on at the moment.
1. The Korea Pet-Peeves/Dislikes–Part 2

2. A video of my kids (students) doing our song and dance to the song “Splish Splash“…which is addoooorable.
I choreographed the dance moves based on what I remembered from when I did the song in my elementary school music class and a few Youtube videos.
I didn’t focus on learning all of the words for this particular song, I just wanted them to have fun with English and get their butts out of their chairs.  Mission accomplished.  We didn’t have time for a video today so I’m going to try and get it done on Monday and uploaded shortly after.

3. The journal entries from my Harry Potter/Osaka trip.  I emailed the photos from my phone to my email account like 2 hours ago and they still haven’t come through.  But anyway, still working on that and hope to have some fun posts up soon.

In regards to #2–I’m also nearly finished with a new dance/song to The Loco-Motion by Little Eva (or this version by Kylie Minogue) and I’m super excited for it.  The last one was a big hit, so I’m hoping this one will be too.  It’s a bit slower as well, so hopefully I can get them to learn the lyrics as well (which we do with all of the other songs that I teach them.)

We’ll be having a Halloween Party at our school too and each teacher will have a group of students for 40 minutes and then we rotate the kids to the next room.  Each teacher has a different activity or game, and I was thinking it’d be fun to teach them a dance to Thriller by Michael Jackson.  A lot of them have no idea who Michael Jackson is and they love zombies…so that could be fun.
This whole post is turning into stuff about dance routines, but for the Halloween bit, I’ve done actual activities for the Halloween and Christmas parties last year because each group that you get can have a huge mix of kids…super low level to more advanced kids, and sometimes they bring their (non-English speaking) friends.  Having to cut/print/prepare enough scissors and glue etc is a bit of a pain when you don’t actually know who will be in your class.
The dance bit would let them get some energy out and have some fun at the same time.
I still have to get an OK from our director, but I think it should be fine.  I’d looooooove if we could get a blacklight or something and use that, but we’ll see.  I remember doing a special Halloween routine with this song when I was in dance class…er…in the 90s and our teacher let us use white gloves and we had a black light (and a strobe light, I believe?) and we did the Thriller dance in the dark.  It was super fun.  😀

Also, no work tomorrow/today (Friday) because of a public holiday annnnnd my 28th birthday on Saturday, which also happens to be payday!  Alllllso, I signed up at a gym today (with help from a friend) and I’m excited (but also a little not, because now I have no excuses and can’t be lazy anymore).  They have good hours, the price was reasonable AND it’s super close to my work, which is also fairly close to my apartment.
Hurrah!

Anyway, that’s a quick update.  Off to bed!   Have a great day/night/evening!

Ah…mini-post

All of my classes have diaries and we write about different prompts (“finish the story”, tell me about a time when…, What is your favorite season, etc.). Today, I did one with my younger kids and had them tell me about their mom.  I gave them the sentences but left blanks (rare) for them to fill in.
Most of them were adorable and one girl said she thought it was fun (to write about her mom).  Just things like her favorite color, likes and dislikes, etc.

Then…one girl wrote “My mom doesn’t like         me       and      giving me hugs           .”
God, my heart was going to break open.  I learned later from the woman at the front desk who interacts more with the parents that this mom is pretty strict and yells a lot.  I feel so horrible for this girl.  It’s a fairly small class of 10 (7 on MWF) and I feel like I have a general idea about them, but wow, I just wanted to scoop her up (She’s about 7) and give her a big hug.  I don’t know if that crosses any sort of lines, and I’m sure it does, but just heart-wrenching.
Extra love all around tomorrow.  I love all those babies like they were my own.  😦

Another girl said that her mom doesn’t like her dad, which was a wee bit awkward, but otherwise all of the responses were pretty standard.  “My mom doesn’t like cleaning/washing windows/etc”

Anyway, just wanted to share.
Lots of rain tonight so I’m off to have a wonderfully deep sleep.  😀

Done and done.

So, I went to immigration today and got myself sorted for the next year in Korea.  I’m thinking this will be my last year teaching in Korea.  I love teaching, but I’d like to further my education and I hope to teach in a more stable setting.

The after-school academies (or hagwons) tend to be a bit more unstable as they can be opened up with anyone with enough money (really) and they’re everywhere.  I really enjoy my classes and the school that I’m at so I’m hoping for another year like this one.  This past year seemed to breeze by pretty quickly.  There’s a bit of negativity though, and that can be a bit rough, but trying to keep my head down and do my own best with my classes and sort of just do what I’m doing.

I already have quite a few things in store for the coming year, so hopefully things go smoothly.

Here’s a teaser for the year to come–obviously things change and put this is what I’m looking at as of now:
*Hoping I get the OK to carve pumpkins with my kiddos at school.  Our classes are smaller and I’d LOVE to give them this experience.  Halloween isn’t really that big here yet (slowly…) so I’d like to let them experience making a jack-o-lantern.
I’m thinking that letting them draw and scoop out the mess would be best and I’ll do the cutting.
(Plus decorating my room a bit for Halloween!  Yay!  I love having my own classroom!)

* Christmas at home (first time in almost 3 years!! Squeeeee!)

*New Years in LA (first time!)

*back with ultimate frisbee in the spring 🙂  (Too many things going on in the fall right now to dedicate the time and money to it)

*Toying with the idea of Budapest in February (Yes, winter)

*Working on another surprise of sorts for my summer vacation— I sent my mom and brother on an all-expenses paid cruise two years ago (to the Bahamas, I believe).  Expensive, yes, but it makes me happy and I think that’s what life is about.  This won’t be quite that extravagant, but it still puts an extra spring in my step and makes my heart feel lighter when I think about it. My mom is a single mom and she works her butt off (and has) for years and years and never gets a vacation, so I had wanted to change that.

*Finish contract in September

*Thailand for a bit of muay thai fighting training

Anyway, this would be the dream scenario, but I like making my dreams happen.  So, we shall see 😀

My Hands! My Hands!

So, I think summer is on it’s way out which I’m a bit sad about.  I feel like it went by too quickly :-/
However, I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to super sweaty walks to my school or wishing that I could wear shorts in the classroom.  Also, I’m one season closer to being home for the holidays.  🙂  I just wish I had more time out in the sun and at the beach.

Also, yesterday I finally bought some pre-heat cream which I can use before using a hairdryer or a straightener…and not sure if it’s something different with the temperature or this cream, but MY GOSH…my hair is ridiculously soft!!  It’s a-mazing!

Anyway, an explanation of the title is probably in order.  I’ve been working a bit (er…a lot) on a display for my classroom and I’m nearly finished!  Yay!
I’m pretty happy with it because it’s one of three “interactive” displays in my room, which I’m in love with.
Remember the “Careers” section in my newest room update?

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(on the right)

Ok, well I wanted something else to go along with it and I made “accessories” or extra vocab cutouts for each of the 20-something jobs that came in the set.
(MY HANNNNNDS!)

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Each job has 3 or more extra vocab words to go with it, which I stuffed into a plain white envelope.  Each brown envelope holds 2-3 of the “job envelopes” for faster searching.
My plan is to switch the jobs out each week (was every two weeks, but I scratched that plan) and a student from each of my three classes can choose the job and the “accessories” that they want to display.  Each job will have only 3 Velcro stickies so it won’t be too cluttered.
Hopefully it’ll be a fun way for the kids to learn some extra vocabulary words.  I was thinking about color-coding them but only thought of it after I already wrote the names on all the brown envelopes.  Ah well.

3 jobs on the community jobs board, 3 accessories per job per week, 3 students total get to change out the jobs (rotate weekly)
I bought a little basket from Daiso (about $5/5,000) to store them in…should be good *fingers crossed*

Again..MY HANDS!!!!  So much cutting!  When I was finished, the file of pictures on MS Word was 32 pages (!)…oi.  Cut those out and laminate.  Cut again.  Label envelopes.  Sort.  Pass out and hope for the best.  😀  Still need to stick velcro onto the back of each card…  Maybe I’ll get a massage this weekend…

Anyway, we’re off Friday for Korea’s Independence Day (from Japan), so tomorrow is my Friday–hoorah!

Goodnight!

Edit:

This is the website where I got my ‘Community Helpers’ printables.  I wanted to share it again because they’re adorable AND FREE!!!
http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/kadeenwhitby/free-community-helpers-posters

These are great too:
http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/kadeenwhitby/all-the-people-in-my-neighborhood-community-posters

 

Classroom Pics

I’m changing a few things around and wanted to share what my classroom looks like currently.

I posted about this a few weeks ago and already made a few changes before I took the pictures today.
1. I decided to leave the back wall alone and keep the numbers and colors where they are.
2. I moved the seasons and put them near the “window” and put up a birthday display in its place.  I’ll finish this up tomorrow…nearly finished 🙂
3. I took down an old poster and made the display with different jobs on that back wall that juts out.  I think it looks already and I had the space for it.
I’m thinking about having the kids change the jobs out…maybe printing out a few “accessories” for each job and having the younger kids match them up with the job that is currently on display.  For example, if we have the police officer and an officer worker up, they could sort through a basket of laminated accessories (badge, stethoscope, pens, ambulance, etc.) and attach them via velcro to the correct job.  Then my older (later) class could change them at the end of the day.

I dunno, still working out the kinks, but I’m want to try and get the kids active with them so they learn from them and not just have them on display.

In the last month or so, I’ve had the evening kids start helping “reset” the room for the next day in the last 5 minutes of class and it’s a huge help for me.  The kids love it too.  They change the “yesterday was/today is/tomorrow will be” signs and sometimes help wipe down the tables.
Each class (I have 3, 2-hour classes) is responsible for straightening the books on the bookshelf, pushing in their chairs and emptying the pencil sharpener, straightening the puzzle mat near the bookshelf…basically cleaning up before the next group comes in.  It’s routine now and very helpful.  🙂
The kids love helping out and it makes it super quick to close down the classroom.  The “jobs/careers” would be one more addition and would help the kids get more involved with their classroom.

Anyway, nearly finished, but I still want to:
1. do something with weather on the back wall (?)–I have the stuff made up but not sure if the room looks too cluttered??
2. Organize the “hard to spell” words into a word wall of sorts and move it under the white board.
3. Re-label the pencil and eraser jars
4. See about getting a map that is both in English and in color.  The one I have now is in English (kinda?) but it’s a night view and doesn’t have country outlines.  No bueno.

I also finished the bookmarks and they were a huge hit 🙂
I teach from the Oxford Reading Tree series and I found bookmarks online with the characters on them and the kids loved them!  I also made up some different styles with the name of our school on it.  One with just the name and one (cooler…IMO) one that says “I love ____________” and our school name.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight!  Hope you like the pictures!

Too Much Pinterest Makes Stacey a Crazy Lady

I’ve been on Pinterest way too much today…and now I have a ton of ideas on how to re-organize my classroom.
I sketched it out and it looks pretty snazzy, IMHO (in my humble opinion), but I wish my brain would learn to shut off at times, haha.  😀

I think my classroom looks good now, but I *love* organizing things and making things more practical and useful and Pinterest is amazing for new ideas.
I’ll try and take pictures of how it looks now once I get back into the classroom on Monday so I can get some comparing and contrasting in.
Sprucing up a classroom is a bit difficult when you only have 2 weeks off per year, so I actually try my best to change things as I go along.  I think it helps keep things fresh and the students get excited when they come in and something looks different.  Example:  I moved the bookshelf from being flush against the wall to perpendicular to the wall (trying to create a nook-like area) and they all got super excited and loved the change.  haha.
I also used to have the tables arranged differently, but it always bothered me that some kids were further from the board than I liked but I couldn’t figure out how to fix it.  Better now though 🙂

Grandma/Family–if you’re reading, my room is roughly the size of your living room (minus the kitchen), but anyway, here are some rough sketches I drew out.  I’m hoping to organize the walls a bit more into bulletin board/typical classroom style.  I’d like to make the walls look a bit neater and brighter.

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For the birthdays, I’m using this idea:

http://scrappingwest.blogspot.kr/2010/08/birthday-cupcakes.html

Community Helpers (LOVE THESE!!! And Free 😀 :D)

http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/kadeenwhitby/free-community-helpers-posters

I’m planning to put up some velcro and put a spotlight on only 3 or so (depending on space) and change them out every 1-2 weeks.  The pictures are adorable and I love the multi-cultural aspect on the posters as well.  And they’re beautiful 🙂

To make this new wall, I’d also be removing the colors and numbers, which worries me a bit because they still use these for spelling purposes.  It’s also a bit different because with these after-school type schools, we get new students all the time and sometimes without notice, so I don’t change displays too much because there’s likely always a newer kid who might still need them.
However, I found these on Pinterest:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Monster-Theme-Name-Plates-34-Unique-Designs-Editable-767893

They’re nameplates for the desks!  SO CUTE…and practical!  Yay!
Another challenge is that my classes are two hours long and then I change students.  I have 3, 2-hour long classes a day.  They’re back-to-back with 5-10 minutes “break” in between.  Another thing about teaching ESL over here is there isn’t a defined “school year” when you teach in the academies after school.  There’s a heavier registration time, but otherwise the classes continue on.  My particular classes “re-set” every 3-4 months and then we shuffle the kids around depending on where kids are currently at ability-wise.  Some kids work harder and they’re ready to advance and some kids aren’t.  So they’ll stay in the same class or might get bumped down.  (THANK THE LORD that my current school lets us bump kids down to a lower level…several schools (including my last) didn’t want kids to go lower because they thought the parents would be angry and pull their kids out of the school.)

Anyway, I was thinking about getting some of these and laminating them (makes it easy for kids that are new or “trying out” the class).  Then, we could stick them onto the desks with Velcro, and the kids could change them as they came in for the day and hang them up at the end.
ALSO, this would free up some wall space.  😀
Granted, they would still need the numbers, but I could just add them to my fancy new word wall.

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I’m thinking of making something out of the little fake window and actually using it to pretend it’s a real window.  I’m thinking of going to Daiso (our version of the dollar store) and getting a cheap curtain to rig up. I’ll laminate some weather words and pictures and we can change them each day.  I’d like to also move the seasons from the front wall to this wall so everything “weather” can all be in one space.

Again, just sketches for now, but maybe it’ll help give an idea better than me just rambling on about it.  Anyway, I’m also hoping to make a little “student center” somewhere where they can get their pencils, erasers, and bookmarks (new idea!) and how to make it look a little better than it currently does.

I need more wall space!!!  I love this idea too!

http://fieldofpoppies.blogspot.kr/2012/09/shades-of-meaning.html

Other things I’d like to do:
*create a super cute and functional reading nook from minimal space for minimal wons (or dollars…)
–I have the beginning stages, but I want better, fun seating for them.  Some throw pillows or cushions for the area and some Christmas lights when the time comes.
*customized pencils would be AWESOME.  Ideally pencils with my name/borrowed from/etc and/or other pencils with the school’s name on it.  I haven’t seen much customization anywhere in this country… Granted, I am in Asia, and the group is more important than the individual usually, but still…the students would freak out (in a good way) if they got pencils with their names on them.  I’ll have to see what I can do when I get back to the US.
*I want to be able to use these or these  or these somehow! 😦 🙂 😦 🙂

And yes, I know, these things cost money, but I don’t mind spending the money when I feel it helps my students or makes them excited.  Plus, I get excited about these things too, so it’s a win-win.  Also, I’m also at work nearly as much as I’m at home (or more sometimes, it feels like) and I’d like to make my second-home as cozy as possible.  I also hope that the students like the room so they keep wanting to come back and that it feels like a little home to them too.

Anyway, it’s late, so off to bed 😀

Edit:
LOOK AT THESE ROOMS!!!!
http://www.theschoolsupplyaddict.com/room-setup.html

AND how cool is this?!?!?
http://newadventuresinfirstgrade.blogspot.ch/2011/09/where-it-happens-wednesday.html

I want to be in their classes!  How do I go back to elementary school?
So so fun!