Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tweak It Until It Works

Just to warn you, this post is about how the Korean school is organized and a snip it of how I teach. It's kinda boring if you're not interested in that sort of thing. And it's still slightly boring even if you are interested in it.

Today is the first day of the new school year and new semester.

Korea's school system is a bit different than in California. For example, instead of starting a new school year in September, they start their new school year in March. The end of the school year is approximately in December/first week of January, followed by a two month break. In the two month break, the students come back to periodically clean the school and to graduate.

For the last two months I've pretty much been twiddling my thumbs. So to say that I'm excited about the students being back and teaching again is an understatement. I love how they bombard the school with all their energy, excitement, and happiness. The school is a sad place without them in it.

I taught two classes today. Just laying down the ground work of a point system which scores good behavior, participation, and listening skills. Also, they are picking out their own English names and making name cards for their desks.

I have a pretty big classroom with boards on the back wall that I can post stuff on. I've decided to use it to keep track of the points. The winning classes get a class party every two months.

There are three grades: first, second, and third. Which is approximately seventh, eighth, and ninth grade in California. The classes in each grade compete against each other. In one period, the class can only earn a total of 10 points. If they end the class period with negative points, the entire class has to do 50 jumping jacks.

I am also taking pictures of each class and posting their pictures by their section on the board. This task got the first class off to a rocky start because they didn't want their photo taken. With that in mind, I didn't let the next class into the classroom until we took the picture.

Also, the first class had difficulty coming up with their own English names. This led to not everyone thinking of a name and completing their name cards. Also, I wanted them to write down their student identification number, Korean name in Korean, and English name in English for my own roster, but that couldn't be done either without their English name. For the next class, I gave them a list of boys and girls names they could choose from, or they could make up their own.

Fixing those two problems with the lesson made the second class go way smoother and it was more enjoyable for everyone. The kids were laughing at the jokes I was making and got excited when I got excited... that can only really happen when things go accordingly.

Hopefully this system I am implementing sticks. If it doesn't, I'll do what I do to my lessons when they don't work, tweak it until it does.