Well, I have officially completed my first two weeks as an EPIK teacher. What did those first two weeks look like? What are my thoughts on it? Oh, how can I organize them on this blog? Let’s try.
The first week was a combination of going into work nervous and confused and learning how each of my schools operated. I had to meet many of my co-workers that I had not met before the first day of school and desperately trying to remember their name and what they teach (I don’t have everyone down yet. I’m sorry. There are too many new people for me to remember.) Another important, maybe even more important, thing was meeting my students.
The first week had a lot of confusion on everyone’s part as the beginning of the school year tends to do that to most people. Schedules were changed and classes were cancelled. I met some of my students but not all of them. I was constantly being told about what classes I had that day and to ignore this schedule and follow that one. I just went along with it and did what I was told.
The very first day, I was at my second school which I had only spent maybe 5 minutes in the previous week. I knew no one, didn’t know what was expected of me, and had only been told to show up at 8:25 am. While this last minute information is the norm in Korea, for me, coming from America, was a change. This was even more nerve-wracking since I was in a completely new country starting a new job with new people I have never talked to. Starting anew job already creates a mess of emotions, so I was feeling those compounded by 100.
Despite all of this, my first day was fine. My co-teacher was very nice and helpful along with others on the staff. No one left me alone to flounder. I was introduced to the staff along with the other new teachers in the teacher’s room. Then I was introduced to the second and third graders on stage (I just had to bow when my name was announced, very easy. Some of my friends did have to say something, though).
Classes were spent giving an introduction lesson so my students could learn about me. In addition, we played a game so I could learn a bit about them and hear them speak in English so I could start assessing the English skills of both the class as a whole and as students individually.
Once I moved to my main school on Wednesday, it was more of the same. I did not have to go through opening ceremonies and introductions, but I did give my introduction lesson. By the end of the week, I was sick of myself honestly.
While deskwarming, I worked on lesson plans for future classes. At my main school I teach first and second grade middle schoolers, and at my second school I teach second graders. I am lucky that both schools use the same book, especially since it is a newer one. In addition, both of my schools pretty much let me run my classes as I want. I have control for the full 45 minutes. I use the book as a guide for topics and have four weeks to cover one lesson. Thus far, lesson planning has not been too much of a strain at all. However, it is an adjustment to plan a 45 minute lesson for middle schoolers as opposed to the 1 hour and 20 minute college level lessons I was planning back home!
The second week of classes saw the start of proper lessons. With the exception of a few classes that I did not have the first week (they got the into lesson), I started with my first lesson based on the book. I think they went okay. I am still learning about my students and their skills so there is still an adjustment period. My main goal is to expose them to English while trying to make it fun. I do not want them to dread my class or the thought of language learning. I think it is so important to have exposure to other languages and cultures, so I am making that my main goal for the year.
I also have two after school classes, one at each school. I had the first class at my main school and will start the after school class at my second school next week. They are more opportunities for the students to interact in English and have different experiences than in the classroom during the regular school day.
Beyond talking about teaching, I am provided lunch everyday. It is a great way to try a multitude of Korean food and form bonds with your co-workers.
So far, I really don’t have too much to complain about. I feel like everyday I gain a better understanding of what is expected of me. That is really all I need to feel more comfortable and secure in my role. Let us see what the remaining weeks bring!