I’m writing this because I have been scolded for not posting in a while.
So I’d like to talk about my average day. This is what it is like to be an English teacher in Seoul. I’m going to talk about Wednesday, because I usually don’t go out much on Wednesday night, so it is a very ordinary day.
I usually wake up about 6:30, turn on some tunes and turn on the coffee. Then I hit the snooze button and sleep for an extra 10 minutes. So then I have to hurry and get in the shower and get dressed. I leave the house at 7:30, and walk to work. That early in the morning, all the hofs and restaurants are closed, but there are sleepy-eyed people waiting for the bus, and cyclists and cars keeping a ghost town vibe to a minimum. Then I get to The Hill. In summer I always get a bit sweaty trudging up the last 10 minutes of a vertical incline.
I get into the office along with all the other teachers. Mr. Ahn, who teaches Philosophy, sits next to me on my right, and Ms. Che, one of my co-teachers sits on my left. I say hi to everyone, and turn on my computer, then grab some coffee, and say hi to the other teachers. I’m able to speak enough Korean to be pleasant.
Mr Ahn doesn’t speak any English, but he is kind and gentle, and he always smiles at me. He is also an excellent dancer and will sometimes share a dance video with me.
I usually have a class 1st period, so I collect the worksheets I’ve prepared the day before, look them over and get everything else I need. I usually only need chalk, and most of the time it is already in the classroom. The bell rings at 8:10 and all the other teachers and I leave the teacher’s office and head to the classrooms. In Korea, the teacher’s don’t have their own classroom; we travel.
I have 4 classes everyday. Usually I have one beginner’s class, an intermediate, and an advanced in the first year( freshman) classes and second year (classes. For first year classes I have total freedom for my classes. I can do what ever I want. This is awesome, but some days I feel a bit of pressure to come up with something interesting and informative and will get them talking. I usually have the class do group work, mostly because it is easier to control the class and easier to keep the students awake.
Sleeping students is not a big problem in my class, but then I keep them moving a bit, and usually if a student puts her head down, it’s because she is sick or had to work late. Most of my students are pretty good about participating, although I do have to remind them to speak English in the groups. I generally like teaching the classes. I have a co-teacher in each class: The same teacher all day, and I think I get along with them all. They usually help me by translating if I ask, and helping the students after they get in their groups. So I enter the class, explain the tasks, put helpful vocabulary on the board, and put them in groups. Then my co-teacher and I go around the classroom helping the students with their tasks. After they are finished, usually for the last 10 minutes I have the students give a presentation. Most of the time, they are pretty good about volunteering, but sometimes I just have to pick the team that starts ( I use eine meinie minie moe)
Second year classes are a bit different. I have a book that I have to follow. To encourage participation, we have 10 points that we give out. This can turn a B into an A, so the students are pretty keen to get them. They get them by either talking to me at my desk in the teacher’s office or by doing a presentation in class. They are pretty good about participating even in the non-point generating activities. I really enjoy talking to them at my desk. I’ve learned a lot and some of my students are really interesting people. Yeah, I do love them. They are pretty cool.
Between classes I prepare for other classes, read, surf the internet and next week I’ll be re-doing the instructions for the workbook I wrote for next year. I also have to think about what I want to do for winter camp. The school says they think I work hard, but I don’t feel like I do really. I love making worksheets and creating activities, and I love being in the classroom. It doesn’t feel that work-ish to me.
School finishes at 4 and this semester I don’t have any extra classes. So I say good-bye to everyone, and chat a bit, and then leave. Some days I go to the market and get some veggies to cook up, and sometimes I go to E-mart. Right now they have avocados at Costco and I bought some of course. I go home, and make some more coffee because it is my favorite addiction, change into something comfortable, cook dinner, and go online to watch tv or a movie. I used to go out a bit more often, but lately I’ve been staying home and learning to sew and knit. I really enjoy knitting, there is something a bit meditative to it. I sometimes call home or friends, and sometimes I chat on messenger or face-book. I clean the kitchen up, and around 11-ish I go to bed. I wake up at 6:30 and do everything over again.
Right now it is getting cooler and crisper, and the leaves are changing. Tomorrow is Halloween, but this year I don’t have a many plans. I’ll meet some friends for dinner on Sunday, and Saturday I plan on going to Dongdaemun and Kyobo, and I will spend some time in a coffee shop watching the people go by. I have to go into Itaewon and pick up a couple of calling cards because half of my family don’t have Skype, and then depending on how I feel, I might put on some dancing shoes, or I might just call a friend to grab some dinner. I won’t know till I get there. Next weekend I will not go anywhere or talk to anyone. I try to have at least one day a month where I turn off the phone, and the computer and don’t get dressed.
And this is my life right now. True it isn’t very exciting, but it is enjoyable.