I just wanted to post this photo of a dinner I had with some co workers shortly before I left I Kids’ Park. We were at a Japanese place I’d been a couple times before. They serve raw fish and some other sides before dinner. I had raw fish and rice all mixed up with a spicy pepper sauce and vegetables. Yummy! From top left going clockwise we have teacher Eunhee, teacher Matt, teacher Ella and teacher Nancy.
So this Friday ended my last full week of work at I Kids’ Park. I will go in on Monday and Tuesday and then I’ll be finished up. It’s a strange feeling. I’m excited to have some free time to do some photo work and relax, but mostly I’ll be busting my hump preparing for a move to Bhutan.
It’s hard for it to sink in that after Tuesday, I won’t see any of the kids anymore. I’m really sad about that! I’ve grown very attached to some and I think I’m going to be lost without them for a while! I took some pictures on Friday and I’m planning on taking some more on Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some images as I have time to process them. Until then, here is a series of images I put together of Helen. I don’t have her in class but she comes to see me almost everyday before classes start and I think she is a special person, and cute too!
I’ve taken my video camera a couple of times now to school. I’m trying to get some clips edited and posted but it takes some time. I just clipped this one quickly and wanted to post it. This is Olivia, Melissa and Jerry. These are some of my favorite students. They are very cute, respectful, listen well and really try in class. They’ve been coming to school early and just hanging out in my room before classes start. That’s what they are doing in the video.
On Friday’s we have all the kids go into the lunchroom area and we do chants and songs. Picture me in front of a group of like 30-50 kindergarteners singing our school theme song set to the music from the Adam’s Family. You think I’m making this up right? Nope, the truth is stranger than fiction sometimes my friends. 🙂
Anyway, this rally was special because it was the end of teacher Nancy’s first week of classes. So the director introduced her to each of the rally classes. Oh, I forgot to mention it’s a new group of students each hour for four hours. So some of the pictures are from the rally and a few remaining pictures are students from a new speaking class I am teaching. Most of the students in the pictures I know by name now and I’m starting to get to know their personalities a bit. I’ll try to name them below if I can remember. Sometimes their names still slip away from me! Maybe I am a bad teacher! hahaha.
I watched two documentaries recently, “The US vs. John Lennon” & “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film”. Both were decent films, however the Hunter S. Thompson film was a bit shaky and had some problems, in my opinion of course. Maybe that’s why it was so hard finding a trailer for it. As a little side note, there are obvious advantages and innovations regarding youtube.com. But you know I really hate that site. I can’t really give valid reasons, or good explanations, it’s just something about it… Anyway, back to the movies. I’d still recommend both. Watching artists work for social change helps to keep you inspired and wake you up. I haven’t heard a single person around me mention the war in months… Why aren’t there people in the streets like Vietnam? There are so many reasons, but I don’t feel like ranting for a page or two here, lucky for you.
The Korea job searching continues. I’m so burnt out from reading countless blogs and job ads. I hope all this research pays off. I’ve been focusing hard on Jeju. I read a blog about a guy from California today who lived in Japan and then Korea, teaching English. He’s now on Jeju and said it offered all the conveniences of Seoul, but had much, much, MUCH better air and was less crowded. Seeing his pics of the island was very convincing. It looks beautiful there. I also read many blogs of people in Seoul. After seeing their pics it was easy for me to make the decision not to teach there. I know for sure we need to be in more laid back areas in terms of population and such. Everyone seems to be so into bar culture, especially in the city, and we want none of that.
So the search continues. I’m trying to find somebody that has some personal contacts, or a unique teaching situation like a Buddhist monastery or something. If that doesn’t work then we’re going to send out info to recruiters and see what we get, but I’m really trying to avoid that. It seems to me most of the least desirable jobs end up on ESL job sites and through recruiters. So, time to make the donuts… I have to put on my shit kickers and dig in again… I’ll let you know what I find in the google depths…
Well, I sent off my first job application today. It was for a university job at Chonnam National University in Yeosu. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to prepare before the deadline. I guess we’ll see if I get a call. I’ll be researching and sending more off over the weekend.
The site above is really funny if you are already teaching ESL or thinking about it. Just click on the image to visit the site. I laughed out loud many times reading this site. Made me start wondering about the profession I’m about to be initiated into. Hahaha…
It’s been a while since my last update. Things have been ok lately. Finished off the last of the TEFL requirements and the deep research and job hunting has started. It’s a bit overwhelming and mind numbing pouring over job listings, resume and cover letter sites, many blogs about teaching in Korea, and everything else in between. But it’s getting done, I think.
I’ve finally had some time to process some images I took recently. I’m posting some new images on the site tonight and a few here as well. There are so many images that I take that never make it out of the hard disk because I just don’t have the time to process them. It bums me out sometimes. Here are some recent images I shot at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh while visiting my parents. They took Nancy and I there to see this glass show. It was fun trying to photograph things. I shot most of these with the 12-24mm wide lens.
To break up some of the stress of job searching and making all these computer research centered preparations we’ve been going swimming quite a bit. We’ve been crashing Hwan Joon and Sandy’s community pool with some borrowed passes. It’s been such a nice experience with the hot weather. I’ve been practicing breath holding and have managed to swim across the pool twice underwater. I’m getting to the point where I know I can start going for the third time, but I’m not quite there yet. I took this picture of Sandy a long while ago, but wanted to put it up for this pool post anyway. I haven’t managed to get a photo of Hwan Joon yet. He’s kinda like the yeti. 🙂
The last week of training went quickly. The last two teaching days on Monday and Tuesday went well overall. I felt much more comfortable preparing materials and working through the lesson in my mind. The class always turns out differently than what you imagine in your head, but I think that’s part of the fun of teaching. It amazes me that I can see a bit of fun in this at this point… hahaha. I say that in jest of course.
It was very difficult preparing for the final presentation while working on the last two group lessons. The fatigue and mental strain of the previous three weeks really got to me the final week. A couple of days during the last week my body just shut down. The commute was a REAL strain. I do think I had a good final lesson planned. I don’t think it went well in class obviously. I was really down about it after the class. That night I thought about it a lot and I think it was a good thing to go through. You never want things to go badly but I think it taught me a whole lot. It makes me realize how many things I’m going to have to learn as I countinue to teach. Getting a lesson plan established and refining your method of teaching is just the beginning! I think my final classroom experience was a bit difficult as well because of the situation. I felt that it wasn’t really MY class. I never really set out any rules, I wasn’t grading them, etc. I also didn’t want to bring the mood of the class into a negative space on my last day! So, it was a sacrafice on my part, but I was ok with it considering the circumstances. I knew the lesson would have went well if it weren’t for classroom management issues. On the other hand, I think this was a great experience because it brings my attention to these factors. It pushed my experience in a new direction, and showed me other possibilities.
As I shift back to my “regular” life of moving around like a nomad, things are getting very busy. Finishing the requirements of this program mixed with trip planning and job searching is a real challenge. I am much more excited about the prospect of travelling now. I feel so much more prepared to enter a teaching job abroad. Vance and Caralyn, you have both been wonderful teachers. Thanks for your guidance and prodding over the last month, I’m sure the bruises will disappear soon. 🙂
Week three ended this Friday with a successful speaking lesson with the lower intermediate group. As the students get more comfortable with each other and each of us as teachers, their personalities and abilities truely come out. It is a nice feeling to know that you are helping them speak and make progress on their journey to master English.
I am continuing to try and refine my delivery style and work out my bad habits. I slip into using phrasal verbs and my concept checking needs some work. For some reason I have trouble drilling concept checking into my mind. The whole flow of a lesson is pretty clear to me now, and I feel comfortable in front of the class.
I’m not really nervous to do a whole class on my own now, but fatigue is certainly a factor in my enthusiasm for the final week. It will be fun to go through the whole two hour session on my own, despite the extended prep time it will take to devise the lesson materials.
I find my mind focusing on the details of travel more and more, all the logistics that I will have to research and consider before our departure. I still wonder what teaching abroad will really be like. I’m assuming I won’t have to devise lessons from scratch, but it’s all an unknown to me now. I’m really hoping it’s not as demanding as this course has been. 🙂
As the end of the course starts to become a reality in my mind, many emotions are pulling at me at once. I feel a bit sad that just as I begin to know the students in the classes, I will be leaving them. The crucible of this class has also brought the trainees much closer together than I would have guessed. I think some of us have forged connections that are deeper and more complex than usual, given this amount of time together. The emotional strain caused by the class has brought us together and helped us see each other more clearly. I feel a level of comfort that would seem very unusal in other circumstances, but in this case it is one of the highlights of the course for me. Both of you, Caralyn and Vance, have really been a pleasure to work with and learn from. I really don’t know how you keep the focus and positive attitudes with such a swirling mess of confusion and stress all around you. It really demonstrates to me that you are deeply commited to helping me (and everyone else) develop and grow, and I am truely thankful to you.
With those compliments being said, there is always a devil sitting on my shoulder whispering descent. Sometimes I wonder why I am paying so much money to torture myself… 🙂 I try to pull back and consider everything, but it’s hard when you’re so close to, in fact, deeply entwined in the situation. I keep trying to think of ways that this certificate could have been more pleasureable or palatable. But it’s hard to do actually. I’m sure you hear something to this effect from at least one trainee each round. Ever suggestion I can think about to make it a bit easier to swallow also helps me see the logic to the way things are structured now. So ultimately I’m not sure there is much to say about changing anything. The one thing I have been surprised about it the level of technological integration. I really think this needs to be a component of the course at some point. Maybe I am biased because of my former experience, but I really do think it is an important factor as education programs continue.
Overall, I am looking forward to working through the coming week and emerging on the other side, even if “slightly” battered and bruised. It is certainly the though love approach, but I still love you both anyway.