School v2.0

November 14, 2012

Brand new contract, brand new school.

For my second teaching position in Korea, I've found myself at a middle school in Samho aptly named Samho Middle School (삼호중등학교). It's in a small/rural area just 20 minutes south of where I'm living in Mokpo (apartment v2.0 post coming soon). I commute each day either by bus or hitching a ride with a coworker. 

As I explained in a previous post, the Korean school system differs a bit from the North American system in terms of grades. Teaching Korean middle school grades 1, 2, and 3 is equivalent to teaching Canadian grades 7, 8, and 9 (ages 13-15). 

The main difference between teaching high school and middle school is that I'm now operating from a textbook. Chapters are broken up between speaking/reading/writing lessons, and I create activities based on the given topics/objectives. I'm still pretty new to the routine, but in comparison to my previous free-reign on lesson planning, the textbooks at least give me some confine of what to teach rather than allowing me to spend countless hours trying to find the perfect topic to create the perfect lesson for the students to enjoy and benefit from perfectly; A situation that, as many can appreciate/imagine, is nearly impossible. So, the repetition of the lesson schedule inherently provides students with a degree of routine and, so far, minimizes the time I float around the interwebs and in particular.

Another difference between my job at the high school and this middle school is the presence of co-teachers. At the high school, I had various co-teachers who accompanied their students to class at first, but as the year progressed they stopped showing up. This was my preference since the kids were generally pretty well-behaved and I had other students who could assist in translating for lower level students. Here at the middle school, I have co-teachers who play more of a role in the class. At first I was a bit put-off by this fact, but it's actually worked out really well. My co-teachers maintain a great balance of stepping in when necessary (usually to translate or reiterate) while allowing me to do my thing.

I'm actually teaching at two schools this time around. From Monday through Thursday I am at my main school, Samho Middle School, but on Fridays I travel to Seoho Middle School (서호중등학교) which is considered to be a rural school with only 45 students and 10 teachers. In total, I teach 19 regular classes per week (16 at Samho, 3 at Seoho; 5 first grade, 7 second grade, 7 third) plus two "extra" afterschool classes.

Samho Middle School

My initial impression of my new job was a natural yearning for my previous, familiar job (lighter workload, amazing co-workers, great students, 15 minute walk down the road) but I've really come to appreciate this new teaching experience where I actually feel a greater sense of accountability and responsibility (since my kids aren't zombie/study automatons) and I have the chance to meet new people. So far the kids have been incredibly sweet (asking if they can feel my blond hair or punching each other in my honour) and my co-workers are really welcoming.

One last thing I'll mention is that I'm entering the school year at a really awkward time; mid-semester. It's currently the final semester of the school year with about a month left before final exams so I'm trying my best to maintain the momentum that has been in place all year. The school year will end just after Christmas when I'll conduct two weeks of winter vacation classes, followed by vacation time. I've no complaints.   

1 comment

  1. Boredom has brought me here...I must say your a pretty good writer...haha you nearly convinced me that your making a difference, and your actually teaching..keep it going koolaid


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