April 1, 2013 by travelinggrits
Folks, there is no time for fooling around.
As I round the corner of winter’s chill, I’m glad to say the only snow in sight these days is the cascade of cherry blossom petals brought down by the breeze as I walk the streets. Easter and the beginning of April have heralded much-anticipated warmth and sunshine, but flipping the calendar to a new page brings a stark reminder:
I only have a little more than three months left in Korea.
In the one-year Fulbright investment, I only have one fiscal quarter to make bank on my experiences before I cash out.
Starting the school semester in March threw me for a loop. At the time when friends back home were embarking on spring break vacays, I was greeting new students and getting back into the swing of things.
I can sum up my first few weeks this way: I daresay that teaching 21 hours of class a week is a lot harder than taking 21 hours as a student.
This semester has brought new challenges. My co-teacher moved to a new office, so I have been trying to be more resourceful and self-sufficient. There will be no fooling around.
For example, day one: printer jammed, faulty faucet, password changed on my computer and all the doors in the English wing locked. I almost missed the welcome ceremony because everyone forgot to notify me.
As I slipped in the back of the auditorium, I surveyed the rows of students before me, my stomach flipping with slight nervousness.
When the previous semester finally drew to a close, I was experiencing some serious burnout, and I was ready to get away for a while. But even as I rode planes, trains and elephants in exotic places, my thoughts simmered over improvements I wanted to make and ways I wanted to get a fresh start.
Here was the moment I had been waiting for. The teachers were called onto the stage to be introduced to the teeming masses. The noise level of the students for each teacher was like a popularity gauge; some received polite claps while others received excited squeals. Would I be greeted with awkward silence?
My name was called, I stepped forward.
And the crowd went wild.
And so I press onward. I want their love but also their respect. In my class, there will be no fooling around.
I start class on time and throw truant students out into the hallway. I make students mimic clapping patterns to call their attention when they are too noisy. I use random calling cards rather than waiting for reluctant volunteers. I chunk a stuffed animal at students to answer questions — and they better be ready when “Cocky” goes flying.
It’s exhausting to be more diligent. But my proudest moment so far has been when one of my co-teachers came forward after class and told me, “I think your skill has improved.” I always felt she was hard to please, and now it seems I may have finally earned her high opinion.
This year, I have a goal to not take work home on the weekends. I will not procrastinate lesson planning between classes — there is no fooling around.
I’ve made satisfactory progress on my bucket list for Korea; I have three more UNESCO World Heritage sites to go. Later this month, I’m going to take an exam to evaluate my Korean language level.
I’m going to make more blog posts that are short snapshots of life here. I want to capture more of the smaller memories before they fade away.
I’m not fooling around.