Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Not Exactly Sure What Happened, But I Definitely Gave Something

I went to the hospital and gave "blood" which involved me being hooked to a machine with multiple bags and an alarm that went off about every 90 seconds for the nearly two hours that I was attached to it. I felt really bad for the nurse, because I arrived as they were all scooting out the door and she had to stay. Then it took two hours (plus rest time after and set up time before, so really, over two and a half hours). She couldn't even get anything done because she had to babysit the machine. I didn't look at it, but apparently my blood did not look normal, but all the tests were fine, so whatever. I guess I'm an alien. In addition to whatever issue was causing the machine to beep incessantly and ever-more-urgently.

So, I roll up at home just before 8PM (I went to the hospital at 3:30), and... NO KEY! Grrr... So, I called my landlord, who lives upstairs. No answer. So, I sat there for TWO HOURS until the upstairs light turned on. They had been napping or something (wink wink nudge nudge) the whole time. I called again and they quickly ran out with the spare key. From the embarrassed look on my landlord's face, they had either heard (and ignored) my previous call, or I hadn't interrupted a nap, if you know what I mean. Today, there was a video announcement with a child holding my key, so it is now safely in my bag.

The Ministry of Ed folks toured the school today, so we were warned a week ago to dress up. Of course, I remembered that as I was clocking in. All of the male teachers are in suits and all of the female teachers are in skirts or otherwise dressed up, and then there is me. I decided to wear jeans today, which I do about once every other week. Of course. Go me. So, I've been hiding all day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Have you heard the one about the yellow dust?

Okay, there's no punchline. The yellow dust has lingered for over a week now. The worst is over and the sky even looks blue at times, but my throat has been sore for over a week now and when I go outside, I get a nice film of grit in my mouth, even when it's closed. That's got to be healthy.

Things have been busy but good in the Jennifer Teacher household. The KOTESOL Seoul Chapter Conference was this past weekend and it was the most successful one yet. More importantly, the elections were held and for the first time in about 6 1/2 years, I am not on the executive. So, now I just have my secretarial duties for the National Council. So, I should get on those...

School is still awesome, one month in. :-) The other 4th grade teacher and I really see eye-to-eye on what is important to teach the kids, so we've been having a lot of fun planning activities and themes to do with them.

Today, I have to go give blood for a kid with cancer. I have long half-joked that if I ever get in an accident, someone needs to put me in a cab and drop me off at the gates of an Army base. It's a half-joke because Koreans generally do not have Rh negative blood. To the point that many Koreans don't know that such a thing exists, despite their near-obsession with blood type (they use it like a Western astrological sign as a predictor of personality and for matchmaking).

So anyway, a friend of a friend of a friend... has a teenager with lymphoma that needs B- and no Koreans have it. So, I went and got typed last week, because what he needs is more specific than that. I'm a match so I have to go donate today. I'm really not looking forward to it. As the father messages me one text after another, I am trying to keep in mind that he found out his child has cancer last week. But really, I said I would do it. Does it really require reconfirmation every 20-30 minutes? Apparently so. I'll give all the bloody details later. See what I did there? Yeah, pretty clever.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Pat's er... PTA Meeting Day

Well, they've got the same letters, so they should be equally fun, right? Yeah, I didn't think so, either. Apparently, my homework load has been getting complaints. So far, I've given out 10-15 minutes per day, plus one to three writing paragraphs for chatting in Korean or talking louder than me when I'm speaking to the class. Cry me a river. I doubt any kid has had a full hour of homework yet.

How little homework should I be giving? Under ten minutes a day? Under five? Maybe that's why these kids have gone to an immersion school for four years and still can't write a sentence with a subject AND a verb. We won't even talk about articles, because that's a pipe dream.

Seriously, my new job is awesome, but these kids need serious work on their English and osmosis has pretty well been discounted as a way to learn. I'm pretty much living proof-- I've lived in Korea for over ten years, but I speak English at school all day, then come home to my English Batcave, and my Korean still sucks. If I were paying big bucks to someone to improve my Korean, I'd be pretty angry at the return on my investment.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Open House

So, today was my Open House presentation for the mothers. I was pretty stressed out about it, because a) I hate meeting mothers, and b) I've never done a PowerPoint presentation before (try not to hurt yourself laughing). It went fine, though. The Assistant Director/ Office Manager/ I really have no idea what her job title is translated my slides and everything I said as I spoke and made me feel like a diplomat of some sort. It doesn't take much to amuse me, does it?

After, the mothers of two of my three problem children (pretty Uber-Problem Child's mother didn't attend) asked me how they were doing in class. I was more honest than I normally would be, but I've been laying down the law pretty severely, so I wanted to head off potential complaints at the pass. I told both of them (truthfully enough) that their boys seem to get the material very quickly "so they may get bored at times." By that, I meant they are rambunctious and distract the ones who don't get it so quickly. Both moms seemed to have gotten my drift. :-) One child has apparently complained that I make students wash their hands after they sneeze (into their hands). His mother even went over ways we can cough into his sleeve so as not to have to leave the class. This is the same child that asks to leave the class at some point every day, because he "forgets" to go to the bathroom or get water during a break.

Otherwise, things are rocking along at the new school. Tomorrow, they have a five-period long test, four of which were my classes, so I only have one class. One class got cancelled today for First Grade Welcoming Ceremony Number Two. Since the crowning ceremony last week wasn't enough, I guess. Today, they got leis made of candy and suckers and had to run the gauntlet between all of the other students. An entire hour. Lost. One week in, and I have yet to have a regular school day with them. It would be pretty cool, if it weren't already painfully obvious that we're never going to properly cover all of the material this year. Grand plans of projects and presentations have been washed away by the cold, grim reality that they are the level of the lowest students I taught at Elite. One week in, and we haven't even cracked open half of the books.

One of the students told me on Friday that the Uber-Problem Child would be quitting, but he was in class today. Sigh. In writing class, we did a group brainstorm to make sure they new how to do one, and then they wrote a single paragraph. That just about did most of the kids in, but for UPC... At the end of class, he had written selective parts of the brainstorm on his paper (which I repeatedly told him he did not need to do) and... nothing else. There were less than a dozen words on his page, all copied from the board, and that took him the entire time it took most of the students to complete the assignment. Then he told me he didn't do his homework (again), because he's going to the French school. That should be interesting. I hope for his sake that I misunderstood him, or else that he has a hidden talent for French.

The rest of my kids are pretty awesome, to varying degrees. I can't wait to have a regular full day of classes to see what they can really do.

In other boring news of my life, if you're still reading, I had a national council meeting yesterday. It wasn't as horrible as it could have been. That's the best thing I can say about it. Maybe during the big test tomorrow, I can get to work on those minutes...