New School Year @ Samho M.S.

April 18, 2013

"It's a brand new semester of a brand new school year, and I couldn't be more excited."

That's how I began this post ~5 weeks ago and that's how it sat in my bucket of drafts. I still stand by the statement, but with less sparkly zest. A new semester brought the whirlwindy shuffle of people and things.

Vacation ended and I was back at school for the last week of February. I had a few solid days to get my head back into this thing they call my job before classes were to begin the following Monday.

Sitting in my 6-person-office-of-isolation, I received word from my coteacher that I was to relocate myself and my things to the first floor (main) office. I had mixed feels about this situation. While I found myself neglected in the 6-person-office-of-isolation, I secretly loved the privacy and semi-seclusion. I could openly use Facebook whenever I wanted, and people only wandered in to deliver snacks. What else could I need?

I gathered my things, headed downstairs, and here I've sat among ~20 teachers. There's a lot more activity down here, but a lot less privacy and a lot less Facebook (which can be attributed both to the fact that I'm no longer hidden as well as the fact that I'm finding myself consistently busy). By being in the main office, however, I've had the chance to get to know more of my coworkers and actually have interactions with people other than my students throughout the day. I feel a much greater sense of 'togetherness' these days.

In addition to office changes, I also discovered that my school was saying goodbye to 11 teachers and welcoming new ones. This included my principal (who, in Korean schools, is the king), my main coteacher (who I miss dearly), and another English teacher. The dynamic of my worklife has changed pretty drastically but mostly for the better. By having 2 of the 3 English teachers as newcomers, it was truly a fresh start. The other new teachers are all relatively young and I've had the chance to "socialize" with them. By "socialize" I really mean drink. At a recent staff event, the young teachers decided that we would all be part of a secret club. By "secret club" I really mean a group of people who drink together.

More changes: Incoming first graders (Canada's 7th grade). With the start of a new semester, it's reasonable to expect the arrival of new students. Even after seven weeks, I still find my first graders incredibly adorable. They are fresh out of elementary school and still have some level of excitement for learning. We'll give that another few months.

As compared to last semester, I am still teaching at Samho Middle School from Monday to Thursday, and going to Seoho Middle School on Fridays. I still have 19 hours of regular classes each week, and 2 hours of extra classes (one each on Tuesday and Thursday; I will elaborate on this class in a separate post).

What's new this semester is I'm doing a 2-hour Teacher Workshop on Monday afternoons. This is a time where the English teachers at my school, as well as two other teachers in the region, get together to practice speaking English. I've only had two sessions so far so there's not much to report about this. I did a Teacher Workshop with my coworkers last year, but this time all teachers seem more genuinely interested in having conversations which is incredibly helpful. Rather than having to plan activites, we have been able to sit and talk about our school lives, personal lives, and North Korea (more on that in a separate post).

Although my workload appears to be the same, I still find myself constantly working on lesson plans. I've gotten into a comfortable rhythm in terms of how I execute each lesson (speaking/reading/writing) but I guess I'm still working on how to streamline the process.

I think that just about covers it for the new semester.

In other aspects of life, the cherry blossom season seems to have come and gone in a span of two weeks. They were here, and then they were gone. I'm enjoying the non-parka weather and the abundance of festivals and things.

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