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Jack Brown: Blog

First day with students . . . and more

Posted on August 13, 2012 with 1 comment

Well, some things about teaching in Korea are different, but others are astonishingly similar to teaching in the US.  The big one this week that struck me as exactly the same: The entire week before student arrival is jam-packed with meetings and there's way too little time to just sit in our classrooms and work.  Saturday's meetings (yes, we had a required work day Saturday -- the only one of the year) were actually great ones -- met with other coaches and activities leaders, then high school music department, then performing arts teachers across the grade levels.  But most of the rest of the week was spent wishing I were not in meetings.  We also had a great hamburger/hot dog cookout Saturday afternoon, after which I worked in my room until the shuttle left for home.  I went in for about five hours Sunday, and after that I felt ready for the students' arrival.

And I was ready!  Another thing that's a lot like teaching anywhere: The kids come in the first day talking, laughing, catching up on not having seen each other, etc.  Since I was the new guy, we spent a little time getting to know me and what I want to do in each choir class.  It was only a 40-minute class period today, so there wasn't time to get to know everyone else.  Tomorrow we start the regular 75-minute class rotation, so it'll be all about getting to know them.  Wednesday is Korean Independence Day, so we get a holiday right away!  Then it's back to school Thursday and Friday.

The schedule for the school day is interesting.  There are seven 75-minute class periods (ABCDEFG), but only four of them meet in a given day.  Tomorrow we'll see ABCD; Wednesday's a holiday, so Thursday we'see see EFG, then wrap around to the beginning and close the day with A; Friday will be BCDE; Monday next week will be FGAB, etc.  In seven days, you see each class four times.  I teach five classes and get two planning periods, and that's actually a bigger load than what most teachers do.  Most teach only four classes and get three planning periods.  Yes, Meridian colleagues, you read that correctly: THREE. Planning. Periods.  Each one 75 minutes long.  And there's more planning time after school too.  The teachers who teach four classes also do an advisory before or after lunch, but most of that advisory is study time.  I don't have to do advisory because I teach five classes -- a trade I am VERY happy about.  But it's pretty interesting and amazing how much prep time teachers get.  Please don't hate me, former colleagues. :-)  The four-period teachers are also required to sponsor three clubs, but club meeting time is built into the school day.  There's no out-of-school club requirement unless you just choose to do it.  By teaching five classes and running an activity with an after-school commitment (choir), I'm required to do only one club; but I'm doing two (high school guitar, middle school guitar) to connect with all of my student age levels.  Guitar is a great way to entice boys to join choir, so it's worth the extra time.

The kids were great today!  We sang a little bit in every class, they laughed at most of my jokes, the varsity groups sounded varsity-level!  It was pretty exciting.  I can't wait to hear them sing some real stuff, not just the warm-up stuff I gave them at the end of the period today.  Most of the kids speak excellent English; in fact, most of them sound American and don't even have an accent.  There are a few exceptions, but not many.  They've been studying English since they were 3 or 4, so that helps.  Several have even lived in the US or Canada; many of those speak English better than they speak Korean. Oh -- and I teach middle-school boys choir, middle-school girls choir (both of those unauditioned), Blue Harmony (auditioned middle-school boys/girls), high school Concert Choir (unauditioned boys/girls), and Chamber Singers (high school auditioned, boys/girls).  So no IB music -- I really will miss it, but I'm loving the choir-all-day thing too.

All day . . . that reminds me, it finally rained.  All day Sunday, it rained, sometimes hard, the rest of the time just steady.  It was nice for cooling things off after the crazy heat we've had since I got here.  It'll still be in the mid- to upper 80's F all this week and probably next, but that's a great improvement.  We also expect more rain.  Another benefit from the school: They gave us all umbrellas.  I just hope I don't leave mine on the bus or subway or something.

I'll be staying late at school every day this week -- the last shuttle to home leaves at 5:20 and I'll be on that one daily.  But that's only because I've promised myself I'm not coming to work this weekend!  I've worked the last two weekends -- I'm not working Korean Independence Day or this coming weekend.  After all, it's the weekend after payday.  Time to go eat, drink, and listen to some music.  Oh, wait -- the first tuition bill from LSU will arrive sometime this week.  Hmmm . . . now what did I do with that peanut butter and jelly?

More news from LSU next time, I promise.  Kevin just got there the day before yesterday -- I'm waiting to hear more.



August 13, 2012

Awesome, dude. Great writing. Keep it going - you can make a book out of it someday. Especially when the damsel in distress comes in. She forgot her umbrella on the subway and will have to share yours . . .