Thursday, August 27, 2009

Korea: The Land of Ambiguous Information

I guess I will pick up where I left off, which would put me at Wednesday.  All day Wednesday we had lectures by people who have been teaching in Korea for a number of years.  In the morning we had a great guy who provided us with a lot of helpful technology sites and information that will be really useful in class.  From what I have gleaned from the speakers, the schools spend a lot of money on technology and have SmartBoard-esque things in each room, as well as computers and LCD projectors.  I am definitely looking forward to that.  He gave us some super useful links (like which you stateside teachers should check out as well- it has really cool ideas and fun stuff like karaoke players that you can download for free!) and set me a little bit more at ease about being in the classroom.  Brigid and I were discussing the fact that sometimes it seems as though it might actually be easier to not have taught in the US before coming here.  I have so many preconceived notions about how classrooms are run and how kids should work together in groups and go through rotations and yada yada yada that probably won't work here. 

Wednesday afternoon we had another guy come in and talk about getting kids involved in class.  He definitely had some helpful suggestions and some interesting ideas for games, so that was a useful session as well.  I cannot imagine signing up to teach in a hagwon and just getting kind of thrown into the fray.  This orientation has probably been invaluable for those who have never taught, and even those of us who have taught before have gotten something out of it.

After dinner last night we schlepped all the way back over to the Chemistry building in the sucky weather and heat, only to find out that mysteriously the schedule had been changed and we didn't really need to be there to work on our project.  Oh well.  We did get stuff pretty much outlined and finished it early anyways.  Last night we also got a notice that said "The Seoul City Tour (scheduled for Friday) has been cancelled due to the increasing number of H1N1 influenza patients in Korea. We will be replacing that time slot with a daily temperature check done by the nurses. We are now enforcing the daily temperature checking system by adding an afternoon official temperature check, administered by the nurses."

So that is random and kind of sucks. I am not sure the real difference between us being exposed to sick people on Friday on the tour or on Saturday when we get dropped off to live and work there....seems kind of random.  This is an increase from one temperature check a day to two, so who knows why that is.

Getting my temperature taken with the FIFTH kind of thermometer I have experienced this week.  This one they glide across your forehead from one temple to the other.  It is crazy!
One of the biggest complaints I have about this week (even though it probably isn't something that could really be fixed) is that everything is super ambiguous.  Since we don't know what school we will be at, it is impossible to get any concrete information about how things will be run, what will be expected of us, etc.  Some presenters say the textbook is awesome.  Others say we will "find it lacking."  We get told in one lecture that the kids don't learn the alphabet in the public schools until fourth grade, but then the teachers with experience come in a tell us that ALL of our kids will be able to speak, understand, read, and write at least some English by the time they get to third grade.  A South African kid behind me who taught here last year in a public elementary school was saying that most Korean teachers even incorporate the English alphabet into their classrooms in like first and second grade. It will be interesting when I get to see the kids and judge their proficiency for myself.  Even though we have been given massive amounts of information this week, there is still a whooooole lot that is up in the air. 

On Saturday, after the closing ceremonies, we are going to get on buses split up by the district we will be teaching in.  There are 11 districts in Seoul, so each one must be fairly sizable.  I hope I see friendly faces on that bus, since those are the people I will be living closest to!  We will go to our district office, where we will meet our co-teacher.  They will take us to our school and show us around before taking us to our apartment (eeps!).  Jon Pak (guy who works for SMOE) said they would probably hang out with us for a little bit and then take us shopping for some essentials.  The super bad news that we found out today is that we cannot get internet at our apartments or get a mobile phone until we have our Alien Registration Card (ARC).  The ARC takes up to 5 business days to process, and you have to go down to the immigration office to apply before those five days even start.  Hopefully SMOE will get our medical check to the schools immediately so that I can go apply for my ARC on Monday or Tuesday.  Cross your fingers that someone will have a working unsecured wireless network in my building!!! I was about to start hyperventilating about being so out of contact my first week until Brigid reminded me that I will still have internet access at my school.  Whew.  But still, it sucks to be disconnected.  Good thing I have three seasons of Arrested Development with me to keep me busy!

This morning we met to listen two presentations about two kinds of co-teaching experiences.  The first woman was a Kiwi elementary school teachers and she was very energetic and the video she showed of her working with her kids was awesome.  We were just about to get into the meat of it when we found out that we needed switch presentations.  It really sucked because she thought she had more time or she would have presented things differently.  We missed seeing the actual activity that they were doing.  The second presentation was not nearly as good, and it was middle school so it really didn't apply to us.  They spend much more time on grammar, mechanics, etc.  Booooooring.

This afternoon we had our mandatory official temperature check and came back over to the dorms early.  I have been messing around on Facebook and looking back over some old nataliedee comics.  Now I am probably going to lay down and read a little before dinner.  Tonight I feel I should really attend the Survival Korean II, even though I really just want to see the movie they are playing in the other room! I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Later tonight I will put up a post just about today's food.  It has been...interesting.  Liz, you wouldn't believe the things I am voluntarily eating.

Annyonghi keseyo! (Bye!)

1 comment:

  1. Meaghan, you know all these temperature checks and weight ins and pee tests...they're checking on the alien baby inside of you. They're waiting for it to hatch! Dum Dum DUM!!

    When I first read your post I thought you said "vomitarily eating" and it seemed right. :) I can't wait to read about all the stuff in your area. Make sure to keep up with the pictures! I'm so excited for you, I feel like I'm on the trip too.