“Hey Teacher” “Teacher FINISHED!“: 2 phrases I became accustomed to hearing everyday in class. I taught x2 classes of ten students, all with a medium grasp of English and aged between 9 – 12 years old.
The First Day
– Less un-necessary communication. Too many words = confusion. Keep it short and sweet.
– Vision dollars (like merits/housepoints) are a great incentive. UTILISE!
|Crafting (3 times a week)|
The Grace Period
Outside of class, the kids were friendly and sociable. There were occasions where I felt I wasn’t sure where to set boundaries with kids grabbing my hands, tickling and cracking jokes. They were energetic, fun and hands on.
In addition to lesson time, we also did whole group team building activities and ‘snack’ cooking creations.
The Hard Bits
Before departing for South Korea, I volunteered with City Year London, in an all boys school. In lessons, I used to think Why is it only me that notices the low key bad behaviour? Why isn’t the teacher intervening?
It was then I realised, sometimes it’s better to tactically ignore bad behaviour then to disrupt whole class learning.
One of my most ultimate bugbears, which wasn’t even a bad thing, were the words “TEACHER, FINISHED!!” shouted at the top of one’s lungs. Pacing a lesson can be difficult with ten students of varying ability. Other little teaching issues also involved:
– The boy/girl divide in B-6. They just didn’t want to mix up.
– Screaming! (mostly confined to just the one girl when she won/lost a game!)
– The 1 – 2 kids who fell behind the pace of the class.
– The girl who excelled above all others.
– We worked from a book and we’d often finish the content before the end of the lesson. In that time, I’d have to get creative and invent games, competitions and miscellaneous English topics to cover.
|The English Book we worked through (Christianity themed)|
The Last Day
Friday 16th August 2013 was our last day of camp.I didn’t know what to expect at all, other then sending the kids off that day. We started off with ‘Morning Round-up’ as usual that day, before our closing ceremony.
The lights lowered. A video was projected on the screen, highlighting the last two weeks of camp with photos and short scenes. We were called up to the stage to present certificates to our students. Already a number of teachers were getting emotional. I tried to stay calm and aloof: ‘crying on stage would be embarrassing’, I thought.
After the certificates, Sara, the head of English, announced that the children had cards and gifts for the teachers. It was in that moment, all the children stood up and began mounting the stage: approaching the teachers bearing presents, cards and giving hugs. I felt a lump rise in my throat and my eyes watered.
It was the sight of my students in tears that set me off. I appreciated each and every single child in my class so much. Jerry is creative. Kate is diligent. Grace is a gentle soul. Cleo is wise beyond her years. They were all unique in their own little ways. We exchanged hugs and goodbyes.
I left the stage and went to sit with my students. Mina took my hand and said “you will come back”. She was silently in tears and it saddened me further: she was the girl in my class who never stopped smiling. Kate sat quietly with her face in her hands.
|Victoria and Mina|
After the kids left for lunch, I looked through the presents and I came across a notebook that Kate made for me. Never before had I received something so lovely, thoughtful and heart-warming:
|Presents and cards from the kids|
- This was my first fully funded volunteer trip abroad. I went with ‘Global English Mission (GEM)’. They recruit English Teachers every summer for a variety of placements across South Korea. https://www.facebook.com/GlobalEnglishMission?fref=ts
- It was a Christian Camp and I’m a atheist. I didn’t find it an issue at all and I believe going with a open-mind and having tolerance is absolutely key.
- The placements are around July – August time and it is very hot and humid. Bring lots of T-shirts and shorts.
- Little teaching aids make a big difference. For example, bringing a ball to throw around to answer questions or having name raffles work a treat.
- My placement was in Dangjin, about 1.5 hours from Soeul.
- The teaching days are from 9:30am to 3:15pm with preparations until 5:30pm.
- I stayed with a homestay family who were kind, gracious and incredibly giving. The experience gave a great insight into Korean culture. e.g. fun fact: lots of Korean homes have a dedicated ‘kimchi’ fridge, because the smell spreads to the rest of the food!