Published: June 17th 2012June 17th 2012
I look like a child on her first day of school. In reality, its my first day as a teacher. I'm shaking in my boots.
As of tomorrow, I will have been teaching in Korea for two months. In that time, my experience as an English teacher has been anything but boring. On day one, I was put in front of a classroom of kids with the only instructions being: "Teach." So, as instructed, I began teaching. I have been doing my best to make a difference in these little kids impressionable minds. Some days seem to be more succesful than others.
I will try to sum up a few of my thoughts, and experiences thus far.
I remember walking into each class on the first day and introducing myself to the students. Depending on the class, I was greeted with varying reactions. With one classroom in specific, I was literally greeted with shrieks of fear. The children had never seen a real live human being with blue eyes. They said they were "scary." It took them weeks to stop staring at me every time I walked into the room!
Birthdays in Korea are the greatest thing in the world for students. Korean moms try to outdo each other by providing every student in the class with homebaked goodies, toys, pens, clothing- you
I love these kids!
name it! We take about an hour off to dish out all the immaculate gifts and take countless pictures.
The underlying motive behind everything
the Korean teachers do and say every single day, is to impress the students' parents. It is an unfortunate, but very real situation here in South Korea. I would like to tell you that their goal is purely to teach these children as much English as possible, but that is not the case. Much of what we do is an illusion.
In fact, the main reason I am even here is to be the token white teacher at the school. They want the students to go home and talk about "Yenny Teacher from Canada." They insist on having photo documentation of every staged event at school. Regardless of whether the kids are actually learning or not, as long as it looks
like they are, that is all that matters to the teachers.
This leads me to Open Class Night
. Where do I begin to describe this incredibly awkward event? Once a year, every English school in Korea opens their doors and invites the students' parents to come watch the teachers in a classroom
Andrew is more occupied with a peice of garbage than his birthday cake!
setting, "teaching" their children.
We began preparing for this event over a month before the actual day. We had to endure meeting after meeting discussing every minute detail. We even had to do incredibly bumbling mock presentations for our director, complete with singing and dancing! The actual night of the event was a blur. I remember walking into each class, greeted by a sea of doctors and lawyers holding video cameras, all eyes fixated on me. I smiled and did my best. It was comforting for me knowing I most definately had the best English of anyone in the room. It was extremely intimidating for the Korean teachers on the other hand, knowing that some of the parents in the room had better English than them! Suffice to say, some of my co-workers were brought to tears throughout the event.
Overall, my teaching experience thus far has been wonderful. Of course there are days where I am so frustrated because it seems like the kids don't hear a word I'm saying, but there are other days where their little smiles and hugs make up for everything! :)