Grade 6: 안녕, Korean Teacher

Key Expressions: How do you say it in Korean?

I decided to “take it easy” for a lesson and let the students teach me Korean. Except that there was less taking-it-easy because organizing a class for the students to teach me was even more chaotic at times. What did the students have to teach me?

The teaching teams consisted of at least two students and each team had to think of three things to teach me. They needed to use the key expressions and explain to me what it is or how it is used. I learned a lot of elementary school slang and school objects. At the same time, I had some students teach me about different tastes – teaching me how to ask if something is spicy. And so, the students got to practice the lesson material while I also added to my Korean vocabulary. I actually feel bad for not having kept up with my Korean lessons after I got to Korea.

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After three crazy and hectic classes, my CT and I decided to modify the lesson a little and have the students prepare a poster of what they were going to teach me. It actually worked out a lot better and allowed the students to prepare and practice more efficiently. Also, for me, it allowed me to keep their work and I made a “textbook” for myself out of it. Below are some of the more interesting lessons that the students prepared for me.

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Grade 5: Dear Future Me

“I want to…”

The Grade 5 students recently learned this key expression and while the first lesson idea I had was to do bucket lists with them, one of my CTs had already done it with our two classes together. I’m not sure why she didn’t even wait for this chapter since it fit perfectly for the key expressions. Nevertheless, it meant that I had to think of something else for these classes, plus the other five Grade 5 classes I have with another CT. And thus, I formed the idea of keeping the Bucket List idea but refining the time frame. A “Before I leave Changil Elementary School, I want to…” time frame in the form of a letter to their future self.

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With a simple shoe box, I decided that we’d do a time capsule in class. The students got to decorate their envelopes and complete a little “My Favourites” questionnaire. The key component to this project was the letter that they had to write to themselves. I provided the students with a general template. Most students need all the time I can give them when it comes to writing and I had to simplify the first template I had created.

Dear Grade 6 __________,

Today’s date is ______________, November ____, 2013.
I am _____ years old.
I am/have/like ______________________.

I want to _________________________.
I want to _________________________.

In ten years, I will be _____ years old.
I want to be ________________

From, Grade 5 _______________.

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The idea is that next year, when the students are in their final year here at this school, I would open the time capsule and give them their letter. For the most part, I didn’t read (or take any pictures) of their letters. I know some of the contents as I had to help students with spelling and sometimes the general motivation in completing the letter. But I think it’s better this way. This was more of a personal project for the students than something for me to read and enjoy. But while I was helping a student, I couldn’t help but read one part of her letter: I am 12 years old. I am young.

Another part of why this project was important to me – telling the students, whether they understood or not, that I would still be here a year from now. I haven’t signed my contract and I have heard stories of people signing the contract but being transferred to a different school at the last minute. But I’m sending all my positive hope and energy into the universe that I get the contract and I get to stay with my students. I want to be here a year from now and give them their letters back and watch them read it to themselves as they see how much they have grown and changed. I want to be here when these fifth graders graduate and leave Changil Elementary School. Their graduation will be my graduation from the school as well if things go as planned.

I can’t tell you how happy I was when my CT told me that one of the fifth graders told her how happy he was to hear that I’d still be here next year. Me too, kid. I’m pretty happy at the thought of being able to teach all of you for another year.Universe, please let me stay at this school with my beloved students. I can’t even imagine how traumatized and heartbroken I’d be if I was transferred out when the time came.

Carmen teacher’s first Pepero Day

November 11th is Remembrance Day. It’s a pretty important and significant day for us to remember the veterans who fought for us during the first World War. Being away from Canada though means that there is a significant lack of red poppies around the place and a lot more signs for the sale of Pepero day.

Korea has many days throughout the year for couples. From what I know, there is a significant day every month where couples can express their love. On 11-11, it is Pepero Day. Chosen (I’d guess correctly by the makers of Pepero) because the days all look like Pepero sticks. So, I bet this little occasion is a real kick for those who already think that Valentine’s Day has become so commercialized. Imagine that, a day just for a specific type of candy. It’s pretty great for their sales because a lot of people buy into it. I’ve seen so many people buy huge quantities of pepero just from the local market.

I wasn’t expecting any pepero from the students. In fact, from what I could tell a week ago, some students actually believed that they would get pepero from me. They were still on their sugar high from Halloween I think. But I’ve been clear to them about it – I’m not Korean, and so I won’t be following this pepero event. So, I was prepared to ward off any students who approached me about it today. Which works pretty well even if it did mean that I had some fifth graders tailing after me, thinking that I’d change my mind if they argued that I was Korean (nice try, kids).

I was walking by these sixth grade classrooms when they asked me for pepero. So I pretended to misunderstand and said, “What? Pepero for me? Really?” And they’d be adamant that they meant I should give them pepero. But then the next thing I know, two of my quieter sixth grade students disappear to their desks and come back with a box of pepero each for me. I quickly told them that I was joking but they insisted so I thanked them and hugged these cute little students. And then another sixth grade student I’m closer with felt left out because she disappears and returns with a box of Pepero too. And thus, before the lunch bell rang, I had three boxes of Pepero.

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I had one more third grade class in the afternoon. And one of my adorable third graders came, shoved an unwrapped Mentos candy into my hands, and said it was for me. Then another comes with a Pepero box that she clearly meant for me from the beginning since there’s the cutest message on the box for me. Cutest message ever… I love you too, kid. (No, I don’t have favourites. But if I did….)

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And just because I’m in a good mood. Here’s my Mentos-on-Pepero-Day third grader doing a handstand. Why? Because they’re super talented and creative during their role plays. My students are the best.

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Halloween at School in Korea

I’m not a huge fan of Halloween but I do regret not planning and doing more with my students this year, if only for the cultural experience. I did give in the night before and went and bought a lot of candy for the kids. So, as long as the students came to me between classes and said “Trick or Treat,” they got a piece of candy.

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One of my CTs had the students create Halloween masks and they could get stamps if they finished it. But once I had candy, I had a lot of these students coming with the masks to exchange for that instead.

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My little effort into acknowledging Halloween in the classroom.

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Strange but I got candy in return for Halloween from a few students. I don’t think they understand how it works.

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