You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Week one of the English camp at my school is in the books.

There was really only one incident worth reporting. A boy told me to shut up. If he weren't the most instantly rude student I've ever had, I might have let him continue, but he is the most instantly rude student I've ever had. This was made worse by an error. Last year, I had a 2nd grade student that spoke fluent English. His name was Beom-joon. This time, I saw Joon-beom on my list for 3rd grade students. I thought he was the same kid. We called his mom and asked if he wanted to change classes. She said he had attended a hagwon for a year and would in fact like to change classes. This raised a red flag. Beom-joon was taught by his mom. He never went to an academy. We talked to the boy. After the talk, it was decided that he would stay in the same, lower level class. If he behaves at the hagwon the same way he behaved in my class, his mom should get her money back. He walks in grumpy. Spits out a "hi," and sits down. He puts his head down and it stays there for the entire class, unless he wants to be disruptive. Then he picks his head up and punches the nearest kid. If asked a question, he'll respond with a brusque, "no." He came into class on Tuesday and followed this routine. I asked, in Korean, if he wanted a pillow. He told me to shut up. He was asked to repeat that. "No." He was asked to leave the classroom. "No." He was escorted out of the classroom and told not to come back. My world is that much brighter. This kid is only a 3rd grader and is already an uberdouche.

If I were a Korean teacher, there might have been a beatin'. I'm not a Korean teacher and I have to be tough without beatin's. If I'm not, the class suffers. I feel a responsibility to deliver the best class I can. If that means asking a student not to come back, so be it. It's the only punishment that works.

It was also my favorite student's birthday last week. I gave him one of the few American comics I have in Daegu. It was Superman/Batman #29. It was bagged and boarded. He was upset that it was in English. You're welcome.

In one week the lone wolf flies alone. That's right. I'll be back in good ole Thrillinois for 2 solid weeks, including the Super Bowl. I can't wait.

For those of us into architecture, here are the plans for Ansan.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A few shots from Christmas at Su-jin's apartment.

We celebrated our 2nd anniversary this week. We met for coffee, had dinner at TGIFridays and ended the evening with a sticker picture. We didn't really exchange gifts, but we did buy cards for each other. I arranged to meet Su-jin at 5pm at a coffee shop near a stationary store. I wanted to buy the card, fill it out and then meet her, but she was early. She got to watch me fill out the card. It ruined the surprise, but she was happy to get it. I'm a guy. I hate wrapping presents and giving cards. It seems silly to me, but I knew it would make her happy. Riveting stuff, I know.

Well, one English camp is in the books.

We had another incident on Thursday. One of the students dicked with my computer while I was eating lunch. Due to their dicking with my computer, I was unable to use YouTube in the afternoon. This made my lessons waaaaaaay more difficult. I was using Mr. Bean videos for directions. In a few of his skits, he would drive. I used this to help teach "turn left," turn right," and "go straight." Also, I was teaching "The Wheels on the Bus." It was part of the lesson I was given. I don't know why. Either way, I didn't have music to go with the song. I did my best, but it was a super pain in the ass to teach 2nd and 3rd graders without music.

They brought in the school's computer "specialist" to fix the problem. She played with my computer for an hour before giving up. Then, the Korean teacher attempted to find a suitable replacement. She was unable to locate one and she took FOREVER to stop looking. Either way, the afternoon class on Thursday was a dud.

Friday was great. I had three classes in the morning, followed by lunch. After lunch, the students wrote letters while the foreign teachers rested. Then, everyone met in the library for the closing ceremony. After the closing ceremony, we had an after party. The vice principal drinks like a fucking fish. I sat behind him and he drank with me at least 5 times. Needless to say, I was more than a little tipsy by 4:30. The party ended at 6 and I met Kyung-su after. It was...a long day.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy New Year!

I'm at English camp in Seojae this week. Seojae is a 15 minute bus ride west of my neighborhood. I'm working with 6 other foreign teachers. I've met a few of these people before.

I worked with Marthan and Kelly last summer at my school's English camp. Both of them are solid, solid guys. Paige lives in the same area as I do and we've met once before at a group outing. The other 3 were unknown. One is a British girl who is living with her Korean/Japanese boyfriend and his parents. The other are two western girls. One is a Canadien(boo) with a nose ring and the other is a large Iowan. The Iowan is the only objectionable one of the bunch.

As I write this, we're over halfway done with camp. The schedule is a wreck. The guy in charge scheduled 150 minute classes, but we get 20 minute breaks in between 50 minute periods. The same kids...for 150 minutes. Things get a little slow by the end.

I've been assigned a coteacher, but she's a coteacher in name only. I run the class and she will leave for large parts of the day. We'll be in the middle of an activity and she'll leave for 10 minutes to take a phone call. She can speak reasonably good English, but she's fairly ineffective in class. Most of the Korean teachers I've worked with are fairly loud in Korean and only get quiet when they speak English. She is painfully quiet in both. It's surprising.

The school has three building, one and a half of which are under construction. When I say construction, I mean, they are being gutted. Two of the meathead construction workers were using jackhammers directly across from my room. The kids couldn't hear me. I couldn't hear the kids. I gave the Korean staff 3 choices. 1. Ask the guys to stop. 2. Change the rooms. 3. I will stop them. I had it all worked out in my head. I would walk up behind them, unplug the jackhammers, steal the extension cords and run back to my classroom. I wound up switching classrooms. Sigh.

There has only been one incident worth mentioning so far. My lessons involve directions(i.e. turn left, turn right, go straight). The students have a small map with various locations on it. I instruct them, in Korean, how to use their finger and follow my instructions. Before we started, one girl chose to proudly display her middle finger to me and the class while saying, "Like this!!!" Big laugh. Angry Matt. She was rudely asked to leave the room and not come back. The only reason I did this was because the coteacher needed to take another phone call. If the coteacher were in the room, I probably would have let her deal with it. The coteacher caught up with the girl wandering the hallway during my class. She found me and told me, "I'm sorry, but she did not know meaning." Bullshit. I can't believe she expected me to believe that. The girl knew. I know she knew. Most likely, the "coteacher" knew that she knew. This incident occurred on Tuesday. The student has not returned to English Camp. I don't feel bad about There has also been an incident with the Canadien(boo!) girl losing her nose ring in class and a fire extinguisher was discharged, probably on purpose.

Today was a lot of fun. I had the 5th and 6th grade classes for most of the day. Some of the kids are really smart and really into the lessons I'm doing. Don't ask me why. After class, we went bowling with the Korean staff. I stunk up the alley. I couldn't crack 100 in two games while the guy from South Africa rolled a 150. Ridiculous. After bowling, we went to Pizza Hut. I wanted to sit with the Korean staff, so I could practice. After one hour at Pizza Hut, they were convinced I spoke excellent Korean. I still don't.

So far, this has been a palatable English camp. Next week, I have to go to my school for a 10-day, 4 class per day battle with no help. I do get a classroom this year. So, I can at least use a computer.