Saturday, June 20, 2009


Youngnam Elementary School is a very different environment than my 4 day a week school. It is 6 times larger and much, much busier. I go there on Tuesday, my busiest day, and teach 6 straight classes, at the end of which I am exhausted and ready to quit teaching all together. It's not that I have a terrible time there, it's just that teaching elementary school kids for 6 straight hours can really drag on you.

The size of my secondary school is undoubtedly its biggest downfall. Because there are so many students, I am constantly mobbed, surrounded, attacked, shouted at, and sometimes even harassed by students who are downright dumbfounded to see a foreigner in their territory.

Also because it's so large, the teachers are very busy. Yet for reasons that I cannot figure out, I am asked not to prepare a lesson. Each week I am supposed to assist the Korean teacher by helping with their lesson plans. Initially, the arrangement was set up so that the Korean teacher would start class for 5 minutes, I would be given 25 minutes to teach the lesson and play a game, then the Korean teacher would review and end the lesson with the last 10 minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way. Instead, the teachers usually come into the classroom with either a lesson plan that is mostly in Korean or no lesson plan at all. And since none of them really speak more than 10 words of English, they have a very hard time trying to explain to me what they want. Usually, they just say, "Ok, you teach now!" As if I'm some kind of teaching cyborg that can fly by the seat of my pants for 6 hours.

I have to say, I don't always enjoy my time at Youngnam. It is exhausting and the students literally never leave me alone (even if I want to get a drink or go to the bathroom). But there are some shining moments in the darkness. I teach three 3rd grade classes and three 4th grade classes, so I am able to teach essentially the same thing a few times in a row. This allows me to improve it and refine it, and makes me feel accomplished at the end of the day.

Positive number two is a little girl in my 3rd hour class. She's a 3rd grader, and every time she's in my classroom, she stares at me until I look at her, at which time she reveals a giant, adorable smile that makes my day every time. To make it better, she waits until everyone is gone at the end of class and comes up to me with one of her friends to remind me that they love me. So cute!

Positive number three is the food. I don't know what it is, but the food at Youngnam is just fantastic. It always tastes fresh, they give me the perfect amount, and it is very rarely something that I just don't like. I know this has nothing to do with teaching, but it is one of the better aspects of my second school.

And that's all I have to say about them. Youngnam is a good school with a dedicated and talented staff. Unfortunately, I'm not there enough to ever get totally used to the environment, and as a result am usually tossed around a bit between the teachers, who aren't quite sure how to handle my presence either. But damn...they serve some good bulgogi.


  1. Mmmmmmmmmmm, bulgogi!


  2. I'm still amazed that Youngnam teachers hand you a lesson without giving you advanced notice and expect you to teach it. That would be very stressful. I'm just so happy that you have that little 3rd grader to perk you up- she sounds adorable!