This week…. not the greatest. Between our “Blue Day/Water Day” celebration on Wednesday where I had to do the same “science experiment” 12 different times in 20 minute and 10 minute sessions & collect live eels in a cup and search for missing turtles with no break; a perfect troublemaker showing only disrespect to his classmates and me; and finally certain Korean work culture nuances…. I’m so glad it’s Friday and couldn’t be more thrilled it’s SUMMER VACATION! That’s right, folks, we have next week off for summer break!
But summer vacations at schools are like 2 months long, right? Wrong. Summer vacations at public schools here are a little longer than the private schools, but even then the students often go to English “camp” run by the teachers. During the time there is no camp and students are out of school, the public school teachers do have to go in for part of it to “deskwarm” – darn those contracted hours, eh? They still get more time off than at a private school. I work in a private school and we are lucky if we have a full week off in summer and a full week off in winter. It’s like our vacation days at home, only we can’t choose them.
So kindergartners go to school all year round except 2 weeks? Yes.
We’re off to Tokyo, Japan tomorrow and couldn’t be more excited! It’s about time for a proper break! Here’s my photos from this week though!
Monday, July 20, 2015
I caught 5 year old (4 year old Western age) John making funny faces in art class. He’s a huge sweetheart and one of my favorite 5 year old’s. He’s very smart, too! I have to teach math to this 5 year old class now and it’s a challenge because they are so young, but this guy always knows the answers!
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
My homeroom has art class on Tuesday’s and they were drawing zoo animals. Daniel decided to draw me at the zoo, overlooking the animal enclosure. He knows me well; he put me in giraffe-print pants! If only! However, I’m not exactly sure of the animal I’m observing….looks a little…phallic…
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Ah, Blue Day/Water Day. Once a month we have a special color day where we celebrate a holiday or something similar and all wear the same color to school. Once a quarter (I think) this also involves the elementary students and not just kindergarten. On those days, it is literally a whole day of the same activities (4 rotations, 3 different times). It comes without a true break and it is utterly exhausting. It’s great fun for the kids but that doesn’t change the way I feel about it.
We had to have water-based experiments for this day. Mine was called “water fireworks.” Basically, you fill a glass 3/4 to the top with water. In another glass you have some veggie oil and put some drops of food coloring into it. The food coloring stays in little color balls (water and oil, ya know) and you mix it with a fork to make the balls even smaller. Then you very slowly pour the oil and food coloring into the water, making sure the oil coats the water before the color gets in. Once the color makes it way out of the oil and into the water, it disperses in a fireworks-esque way. It’s quite pretty and I think the kids enjoyed it for the most part.The only problem was, after every single rotation (12), I had to run back and forth to the kitchen about 3 times in order to wash out all the glasses to do it again, I felt very rushed and it really was not fun.
Kevin’s activity was Tornado Twister. He taped 2 large bottles together and spun it so the water tornado’ed its way from one bottle to the other, and then the kids got to try. Very fun!
Waldo did my second choice activity I had printed out, which we named “magic water bags.” Basically, you can fill a ziplock bag with water and poke a pencil all the way through to the other side and the water doesn’t leak out. Neat!
Finally, Pani did Sponge Bombs, which was a target shooting game with wet sponges I think. Fun for the kids for sure!
So after the 4 rotations (3 different times), we had to go to the roof in the sweltering heat. As foreign teachers, we also had to lead the “eel fishing relay.” This involved scooping live (small) eels out of the water and pouring it into the next person’s cup who pours it into the next person’s cup, etc, until the last person pours it into the other tub of water. Whichever team transferred the most eels won!
I hate eels. Like really hate them. But even I felt bad for these little buggers! They kept falling on the floor and were getting manhandled by these children who don’t know they shouldn’t squeeze so hard. We had to bid adieu to a few of them. All this and not to mention the snapper turtle that was in there with them that literally escaped twice. Ugh. He didn’t die. But still. He didn’t deserve this.
Here’s a video of some eel fishing relay action:
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Some relief from the stressful Wednesday came in the form of a magic show!! This magician calls himself The Little Prince (the literary icon as his logo) and he was great with the kids! It was an enjoyable hour for all and a nice break from the routine.
Daniel was lucky and got to participate in some magic. See the video!
Everyone is prepping for their respective trips! We are going to Tokyo, as you know, our coworker Waldo is going to China and our coworker Pani is going to Vietnam. Here’s some currency from (top to bottom) Japan, China and Korea. Korea’s looks so small in comparison!
Conversions to USD as of today:
5000 JPY = $40
100 CNY = $16 (highest Chinese bill amount)
1000 KRW = 85 cents
Friday, July 25, 2015
On the last day of the month, we give out awards to our students who improved the most during the month. Since we are on vacation next week, we had the awards today. These are supposed to be presented by foreign teachers on a rotational basis, and I presented them last month and the month prior, so one of the guys should have done today. However, in our morning meeting, it was determined that I would continue to present them because “a pretty face looks better in pictures.” Uhhh….okay…. So there will be no rotation and this will be my job. Cool. Luckily, this is way better to do than leading the birthday party (which I also did this month) and giving the color day presentation (which I did for the last one).
Regarding the selection of the winning students, the Korean teachers ask us to choose. But then they yell at us when we don’t consult them. Okay, lesson learned – you give me the paper to write down the name of the student, but I shouldn’t write it down until I talk with you. Probably shouldn’t give me the paper and tell me to put something down but okay. So this time, I was thinking about it before going to my co-teachers because I wanted to make sure to discuss it with them prior to writing down the name. Well, because Wednesday was so busy and no one had a break, we never had a chance to discuss. On my desk Thursday are all the awards to sign, students chosen and names printed. So I guess the Korean teachers can choose which students get the awards without consulting the foreign teachers. Great.
The best part of all of this is that my co-teacher for kindergarden gave the award to the student with the worst behavior, because he’s the only one in the class that hasn’t received it yet (for a reason!). He has been nothing but extremely difficult all year and especially this week, constantly yelling, getting up, ignoring me, whining, blah blah blah. “Teacher, I don’t like speech. I don’t want to do it.” “Teacher, I can’t do it. It’s too hard” [regarding writing down homework; what he does everyday]. “Teacher, Daniel was mean to me when we were 6 years old.” “Teacher, I want to sleep.”
So after I had to give him the award, the girl in my class comes up to me and says, “Why did [he] get the award? He doesn’t listen to you!” Gosh she’s so smart. It took a LOT of restraint to not blame it on my co-teacher. Ugh.
If you are curious about Korean work culture, this is a good article that I saw on CNN today.
It touches on hierarchy, long working hours with low productivity, and women not being equal. It’s quite interesting and I’ve definitely witnessed these things!
All right, my long post is over as is this week (phew!). I look forward to our adventure starting tomorrow!! I won’t have my computer so the update will have to wait for my return next weekend!
Hope you all have a great week in the meantime! Always appreciate your support!