Teaching and Learning

16 May

I’m aware of how cheesy and cliché it sounds, but teaching and learning are two things I do pretty much every day here, with varying degrees of success.

When it comes to teaching, this week I’ve been struggling to learn how to discipline my classes. I’m not a very stern person naturally, and it’s hard to discipline children when you can’t actually say much that they can understand. One punishment that we do dole out a lot in my classes is to make students stand at the back facing the wall, and all my students know what a silent and angry pointed finger means!

In the last class of today, which was a particularly rowdy one, I turned around and caught one of my students firing a spit-ball at my co-teacher’s back. This infuriated me! I know this class is unruly because my co-teacher is unpopular and the students have no respect for him, but not speaking Korean, I am only as strong as my co-teacher. I immediately ordered this girl to the back of the room, but she apologised and begged me to change my mind. She’s a pretty good student, who I also have for after school class and who always works hard, so I nearly gave in and allowed her to stay put. At the last minute I decided to hold firm – I can forgive many things, but spitting paper at a teacher is not one of them. I didn’t tell my co-teacher why I’d sent her there – one punishment ought to be enough. I felt terrible about it when I saw her face though! I suppose I’m torn between wanting to be liked, and wanting to be respected.

One of my adorable letters!

 

Obviously some students like me, as I received a pair of letters for Teacher’s Day! Teacher’s Day is when Koreans honour and celebrate their teachers, often by visiting former teachers and giving flowers and other gifts. My school had a ceremony in the morning where the students sang to us (enthusiastically but not very well!) and gave us carnations. Some of the classes had decorated their classrooms with balloons and in one case a red carpet leading me up to the lectern. The students seem to enjoy Teacher’s Day more than the teacher’s do, I think!

 

Back to the learning… I’ve realised that a certain amount of homesickness has started to set in. I’m lonely. Not to a crazy extent – I have made plenty of wonderful friends here who I see all the time. I can share things with them and relax around them in much the same way as I can with my friends at home. The difference is hard to explain. Essentially it’s tactile. My group of friends and my family at home are all pretty tactile people – we hug and hold hands and link arms and curl up on the sofa. It takes a long time to get to that point with new people for me; I’m generally not that cuddly a person! I realised that I’d been skipping a few stages by just drinking a little too much which allows those barriers to come down. Problem is, I don’t actually feel any better for it in the long run, so I’m going to have to try and push through it sober, I think!

 

I’ve always been surrounded by pets, too, so being literally alone in my flat all the time is having an effect. I’ve always thought I could live alone, and I think that’s true, but I can’t live alone and pet-less! I have no idea if I’ll go straight home at the end of my contract or if I’ll be tempted to resign, but I’m worried that I wouldn’t be able to live here, by myself, for more than a year without getting seriously depressed. After all, I only survived the last three years or so in London thanks to these little guys:


My guinea pigs, Arthur and Merlin. Merlin is still with us, and currently wrapping my Mum around his paw.

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4 Responses to “Teaching and Learning”

  1. Claire 17/05/2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Your students are so sweet – and from the looks of that letter you are teaching them some good english! Also sending you lots of hugs. xox

  2. June Bawden 24/05/2012 at 7:14 pm #

    I also miss the tactile aspect of not having you here plus the going out and general banter that we always have. But skyping once a week gives me a fix and I hope you too. I do have the animals around me which helps enormously, but you are just having a blip and it will pass so work through it. I will keep sending the parcels. As for your students I think they like and respect you more when they know you will have fun with them but also if pushed you can be strict, it’s striking that balance but as an adult(as you always remind me) you are the one to guide them. Love and hugs mum xxxx 🙂

  3. Sam Frain 14/05/2014 at 12:09 am #

    I’m thinking of moving to South Korea to do a year of teaching, and came across your blog. Thanks for all the info :-). I’ve have taught English as a foreign language before, but that was in China so I wanted to find out more about experiences in South Korea. I’ll keep reading through. Just wanted to say your blog is motivating me at a time when other elements of my life are providing excuses.

    Also, I loved that letter from your student. Put a huge smile on my face :-)!

  4. ashen 02/10/2014 at 7:37 pm #

    your so sweet

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