Today was alright. Turns out, two of my coteachers have the same last name (well, actually two sets have the same last name -- but I only just found out about the one set) so the one who came in to give me the document is actually the only coteacher I have who speaks really fluent English (she speaks German as well -- color me impressed). I really like this coteacher -- she's the only one who actively co-teaches in class (at least somewhat) and the students really like her as well and respond better in my classes because she's there -- they call her "Cute Teacher". She is pretty cute.
We haven't spent much time talking because Mr. K adopted me pretty early on for lunch room shenanigans, and we're in completely separate offices, but she has always made an effort to spend a few moments after class asking me how my weekend was, etc. We don't have too much in common, but I really appreciate her general kindness.
Anyway, this teacher classes nonsense isn't going to be as intense as it was first described to me -- Coteacher making things sound worse than they are, as usual. Also, once again when an issue was taken to my lovely VP, he completely overruled Coteacher's decision that I will have to work as much as possible, and insisted that, instead of coming back from the teacher classes and doing my afternoon student classes, and rescheduling my morning student classes for the following week, I can just go home after the teacher classes -- only work a half day.
I objected at first, saying that I didn't want to shirk the boys out of three days of English camp, but the VP just looked confused, as did Cute Coteacher. "Lee-juh you go home." Okay, VP. You're the man.
And Cute Coteacher added, "I think the boys will be very happy to have three days vacation." Yeah, you're probably right, but I just wanted to make it known that I don't mind finishing the camp.
I'm not pissed off about the cancelled student classes, now that all of my original lesson plans are kaput anyway. That time has already been wasted. Still, I would rather teach the boys than random teachers I don't know. But you know. We do what we're told.
Anyway, Coteacher was right when she told me I would be teaching 3-4 hours a day for three days. What she didn't tell me is that, except for one class, I will only have each class for 90 minutes. So I only have to make two 90 minute lesson plans. Three hours of last minute lesson plans is a lot simpler than twelve.
The challenge will be, as usual, finding a way to make them talk. I'm generally pretty good at this with adult students though, as I've been doing it for over two years now. And at work, it's been a daily challenge anyway, trying to get people to stop being afraid to speak English to me.
Speaking of, Cute Coteacher and another incredibly cute Korean teacher had lunch with me today, and somehow it came up that I'm studying Korean. They were showing me a menu for lunch, and were surprised to find that I was able to read all of it, and knew what most of it was -- the base words, anyway (-bap, -jiggae, etc.). Cute Coteacher asked how I've been studying, and I said just on my own with a book. She kept pressing for me to speak some Korean, but an episode yesterday where I thanked a teacher in Korean and the entire office burst into pandemonium made me revert back to English-in-the-office-only mode.
I know most of these teachers have probably never actually heard a foreigner speak Korean before -- it must sound pretty fucking bizarre. As an American, I am used to hearing my own language pronounced with strange accents and in broken syntax, because I have been exposed to foreigners all the time, from the time I was young. But it's different here. I try to keep that in mind every time someone has an outburst if I say something in Korean. But I already feel pretty self-conscious about the whole thing, especially since I don't really know my way around the different levels of speech yet, and I'm absolutely terrified I'll say something in a less polite form than I should.
Nonetheless, the two teachers kept pressing. Cute Coteacher said, "Can you introduce yourself in Korean?"
I did my little textbook recital, from memory. And even though I know I botched the -ieyo/yeyo endings, neither teacher batted an eyelash. They just said, "Wow! You can speak Korean!" Which is a lie, but really encouraging. Much more so than Mr. K's "What? I cannot understand you..."
Going to the coffee shop to study Korean has proven to be a really good idea. It's just me and the book, and not any spots on the table that suddenly must be scrubbed or socks I've just remembered must be folded. I went again today and made quite a bit of progress. Instead of getting harder, at the place I'm at now, it's only getting easier. Still, listening to recordings on a CD and circling answers in a book on a given subject is a hell of a lot different than having someone fire questions at you and having to come up with the right words to reply. But at least it's progress. Language comes one half baby step at a time, right? Just have to keep walking.
This morning I was preparing the classroom before the boys came in, when the students who were cleaning the school (they have to come in to do this even on vacation) started screaming and running up and down the hall. They're one of my regular first grade classes -- students I know well. I went out into the hall to see what was going on. "Sunsengnim! Kachi! Kachi in school!"
Sure enough, there was a massive fucking magpie swooping down the hallway. The boys, doing their best mental legwork to sort out a way of handling the situation, had decided to take the approach of running screaming toward the bird waving their brooms wildly, and then running screaming away from the bird when it fluttered upward in response.
The poor thing was terrified and the boys certainly weren't helping. It was flying back and forth down the long corridor, occasionally turning off course to slam into a closed window.
"Quiet!" I said. "Windows. All. Open. Slow. And very quiet." They fell in line behind me, creeping slowly forward and sliding windows open as we moved down the hall toward the bird. I slid the last window open and watched as the bird flew directly out of it and landed in a tree on the mountainside across the way.
Seeing a magpie is supposed to mean good luck in Korea. I wonder what effect this situation will have.