August 11, 2012

Well, I finally found out where I’m moving and what I’m doing.  My new co-teacher called me and we have an appointment to meet today. Talking on the phone with her, she seems like a cool lady. Very energetic. I’m hopeful. I’ll also see my new apartment on Monday. I will have to move. I had been hoping that I could stay in my old apartment, but that is not to be. However I’m pretty happy so far.  — wow! I’ve accumulated a rather large amount of stuff.

Also I got 3 out of 4 grades back – 1 A and 2 B’s I’m still not sure about the grade for Literacy….. however I’ve decided that I’m cool with having to re-do the class if I have to.

I’m thinking of getting a new blog just for my bike riding. I will just have to remember to bring my camera along more often.



Whaat to do?

December 12, 2011

I’m trying to get back into the whole blog thing again. I really like writing, and I have a ton of ideas, but it seems like every night I think, I really should write my blog, and then I do something else. I think I’ve kind of burned out a bit.

I am trying to find the passion again, I do have an opinion on the whole brouhaha over the SMOE decision to let us all go by 2014, and I have some strong opinions on some of the articles I’ve read on education reform. I am also excited to start my winter camp.

As my taekwondo teacher used to say, step by step.


That went surprisingly well.

November 21, 2011

My students have to take a speaking test. This usually drives even the most confident of students to tears. I don’t like driving my students to tears, so I try to make it as painless as possible. I tell them to breathe, and set my face in the most sympathetic and encouraging expression I can muster. 

Most of my students do pretty well, and I can tell they studied the questions, but like all teachers, I have The One Class. The class that sometimes drives me to tears. So I had already told the class that if the majority did well, I would have music and games, but if the majority say “pass” to all the questions, we would study instead. 

Well, I almost didn’t bring the music clip because like I said, this is The One Class. I was most pleasantly surprised today. One student who is normally very shy and doesn’t speak much tried, and although it wasn’t an A, she did make more of an effort than I expected. I told her I was proud of her, and she looked at me like I was crazy. But I was proud, because she went out on a limb, and did something that was very difficult for her. Her spine straightened a bit. These are the moments I love.

The rest of the class did well, and I had a few more surprises, so we listened to some music and I gave them some free time and talked to them and tried to encourage them.  Even though it was a Monday, it was a pretty good day.

I didn’t realize…

November 19, 2011

I had been gone so long. So far grad school is going well, and my students are still pretty awesome. I am going to try to work a bit more on this blog, and try to get more of my teaching philosophy in.

A friend is doing an online teaching portfolio and all the cool teachers have a teaching philosophy, so being a semi-cool teacher, I want one too.

I can tell you what I love about teaching- it is creative, no class or day is the same, I work with people who want to make the world a bit better, my work is something of value. I believe that education is a key to happy life. It can help bring people out of material poverty and mental poverty.  I love that ah ha moment when one of my students finally get something I’m teaching. I love working with my students, I love planning a lesson and tying to make sure that the higher level students are challenged and the lower level students can build on their language.

But I don’t have  a  philosophy of teaching. That is going to be my new project – after the final project for grad school.


I’m in

June 22, 2011

Yes yes yes yes yes yes

omg– I’m so happy

University of North Dakota has accepted me to their ELL program. I will start in August

OMG!!! YES!!!!

can you see me jumping up and down?

readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic

June 15, 2011

The three Rs that everyone says we have to get back to in education.  And I agree that we need to teach reading. No matter what the platform, whether a book, a magazine or a blog, you are probably going to need to read. And writing really helps not only to communicate your thoughts, but to organize them as well.  And despite the trauma of middle school math, I think being able to do even advanced mathematics is important. One of the reasons it is so hard to understand economics and policy is that we really don’t understand numbers, especially big numbers.

That said, I think that the basics are just the start.  Now, all of these skills must be integrated with even more skills, like co-operation, verbal communication, and how to work with very diverse and international groups.  These are soft skills and difficult to assess. Yet I would say they are just as important as the hard skills. I would also add critical thinking, and the ability to navigate the new technology that right now we can’t even imagine.  We need to teach our students how to learn, not just how to study.

I think that is something I’m thinking about right now, because my students just finished a practice SAT test, still have more on the speaking test, and then will take their final tests.  All in the next three weeks. I can see the strain.  And that is why I want to change things a bit.

On the good news side, I”m grading papers that my students have been writing. We started a writing program as an experiment at the beginning of the school year, and I’m really happy  with the improvements I’m seeing. Yes a few still use Google translate, and although I think it is a good tool, in the end, for this program, I want them to use their own language.  They have a lot more creativity and imagination than they are being encouraged to use.

We think that education should prepare students for the jobs of the future, but how can we do that when we don’t even know what those will be?  Why don’t we instead prepare students to think for themselves, to learn from others, and to develop all their talents? (even the talents that won’t turn into their career)

Why don’t we teach our children how to be good human beings with the skills they need to learn the skills they will need for the future.

Sir Ken Robinson has laid out the problem and the solution quite well.

Myeondong ho

June 13, 2011

Korea is crowded. Seoul is very crowded. Myeongdong is super very crowded. It is also where you can get just about anything, including the very famous Myeongdong noodles. Since the line is always winding around the block, we decided not to go there. However we did walk around seeing the sights. Myeongdong is noisy, crowded and has more sparkle stuff than you can shake a stick at.  There is everything here and everyone is there, the crowds close in but on some streets they thin out a bit. We were even able to find a nice street with outdoor cafes and small restaurants and a fountain, though the street was a bit off  Myeongdong proper. I must admit, I’m not a big fan of Myeongdong. Yes it is something you have to experience, but I find it a little too crowded. But this Saturday I found a nice fountain and a quiet street with a cool street cafe, so I”m pretty happy.

You can always meet interesting characters:



Eat interesting food:


and of course sparkles:


If it doesn’t sparkle, it has to be cute or colorful:



And when it all gets overwhelming, go get some coffee:



I like the idea of Myeongdong much more than I like the reality. The crowds, smells, and noise gets to me sometimes. But it is a great place to pick up scarves, belts, sparkly things, dresses, socks (although I didn’t find the ones with Obama on them – I think you have to got to Ewha or Hongdae to get people on your feet) food, singing rooms, and with the street vendors and high-end shops it is a bit of old and new Korea.

Raymond –  I promise more food soon.