My Semi First Day of School
Don’t let the smile fool you. I’m sleepy. And since I had to walk 20 minutes to work in 96% humidity, I arrived a disgusting, sweaty mess. But at least this was the view…
So today marks my official first day of work, sort of. I say ‘sort of’ because it’s Friday and on Fridays I am supposed to be at my travel school. But for whatever reason, I am here at my main school. Maybe my other school wasn’t ready for me just yet? I’m not entirely sure, but at least I get to spend my day lesson planning and brain storming for my classes in the future. Next week, for my first official week, I will just be doing a PowerPoint on myself for each class. Introduce myself, play a game, answer questions. You know, that whole ‘welcome, new foreigner’ deal.
I am happy that today is nothing but lesson planning because it is allowing me to get a feel for the teachers and the students and what the dynamics are between the two. Long story short: ToTo, we ain’t in Kansas anymore.
I knew things were going to be different here in comparison to back home but man, is it different!
Firstly, I share an office with four other teachers. That’s no big deal…only I’m pretty much sharing an office with all the kids too. They come in and out of the office as much as they please without knocking or announcing their arrival. They simply walk right in. If the teacher they want to speak to is not here, they turn and leave. If they want to use the mirror to see if their hair and makeup is still in place, they walk right in. If they need to get something out of these wooden locker/cubby things in the office, they walk right in. if they want to hang out between classes and play some games, they walk. Right. In.
And THEY STAY!
It baffles me because in the states, any area designated for teachers is off limits to students unless given permission by a teacher or another staff member of authority. That doesn’t seem to exist at this school lol. The kids do what they want. I can’t speak about what goes on in the classrooms just yet as I haven’t had a class, but in between classes, the kids DO WHAT THEY WANT. They run up and down the hall. They scream like wild banshees. They sing at the top of their lungs. They play on the computers (in the states, you never touch a teachers desk or computer). And they blast music.
I guess one of the other teachers saw my facial expression (that I was hoping was not obvious) and he laughs and tells my co-teacher to tell me that this is normal, everyday behavior for the kids. The other teachers literally sit around like they have gone deaf. Seriously, they don’t even bat an eyelash or twitch a muscle at the shrieking that takes place in the hallways.
There are only 3 kids shown in the pic but I swear there are about 12 kids back there. “Teacher’s office” obviously means “student lounge”. But I will admit, the kids are polite. They light up when they see me. They bow (sometimes even the full 90 degree angle). They smile and wave all the time and many are willing to just come up and start a conversation with me, even when it can’t move past the hello-what-is-your-name-nice-to-meet-you stage. I actually had a student come talk to me a few minutes ago (in Korean) and I basically had to just make up my own dialogue and smile and nod. I’m not sure what the rest of our convo was about but she left happy, so…yay? Let’s just hope I didn’t promise her anything.
The staff here are also extremely nice and welcoming. There are quite a few teachers here that have a basic command of English which I am grateful for. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t communicate with a single teacher or staff member. I think it’s time to get back started with my Korean or I might not make it very far in this small town. When I’m standing amongst other teachers, I can only decipher the most basic words, and I’m left standing there like a deer in headlights when they all turn to look at me expectantly as if I understood their rapid-fire Korean. As for the teachers that don’t speak any English, we just kind of smile and play a small game of charades until one of us gets our message across.
Even though all of this is pretty overwhelming, I feel much better about being here. Orientation, even though it was supposed to be helpful, was an extremely rough start to moving to Korea for me. I will make a detailed post on why later on.
Well that’s all for now. Another flood of children have burst through the teacher’s office doors and on the small chance that one or two of them can read English, I’m logging out lol.