Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Saturday, August 28, 2010

South Korean Journal -- Part IV

August 1, 2010 (contd.)

Today we enjoyed a relaxing morning and then were picked up by Mr. Moon, the principal of Gotjawal Little School, for a day of exploring Jeju Island. And explore we did!

We began the afternoon by climbing one of the tallest peaks on the island. Even though none of us was appropriately dressed for the climb (I had on a blue dress that I quickly sweat through and my plantar fasciitis flip flops!), the breathtaking views at the top made the struggle and inconvenience worth it. I even enjoyed fishless sushi for lunch. How I am surprising myself!

After climbing the mountain, we visited a scenic pebble beach and then explored the 4/3 Jeju Peace Memorial. This building honors the lives of 30,000 people on the island who lost their lives to a bitter rebellion in the 1940s. Ninety percent of them were not Socialists but innocent citizens. That day of hell was 4/3/48.

We enjoyed a buffet dinner and then settled in for the evening. There is always a nice breeze in the evening, which makes for perfect sleeping weather. Yippee!

August 2, 2010

Today we met the older camp students (Korean ages: 14-17; actual ages: 13-15/16). There are six boys and seven girls, all of whom are kind, polite, easy-going, and happy to be at this international peace camp. We practiced our traditional Korean music program for the upcoming global festival, met the students, enjoyed a delicious Korean buffet lunch outside, dyed t-shirts using traditional Jeju green dye, colored in our fans, saw a short animated film on peace, discussed similarities and differences among us in pairs (I got to work with two rising eighth grade boys, one of whom speaks very good English), ate a healthy light dinner, played soccer with the kids (I even escaped for an hour-long walk by the mountains, which was heavenly!), and prepared to introduce the USA to the group again tomorrow morning.

This week is supposed to stay very hot and humid, unfortunately. I really found the heat unbearable today. However, Mr. Moon has promised to turn on the AC in the school we are at tomorrow. Yay!

On another note, I really wish the older kids here were better encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones and be forced to use more English daily here. Since their principal doesn't speak English at all and the five Korean counselors here prefer speaking Korean, the kids -- even the older ones now -- easily revert back to Korean in over ninety percent of their conversations here. This, I think, is a real shame and lost learning opportunity. So, I am taking it upon myself to engage the kids in conversation as much as possible and really experience a true cultural and linguistic exchange every day here. After all, isn't that what an international volunteer workcamp is all about?!

August 3, 2010

It is definitely harder to connect with the older kids now compared to the younger children from last week. While they technically know more English, they are much more shy and often do not feel comfortable speaking it aloud. They would much rather speak Korean and go through a translator. This is really a shame too. I keep trying to get them talking voluntarily in English but am often frustrated, as the students have their own cliques and ways of communicating with one another that I cannot understand. I often feel left out and that it takes me twice the time to get to know the students, compared to my Korean counterparts.

Today, I got to introduce the USA again, we practiced peace skits for tomorrow's global festival, enjoyed a delicious curry and English trifle lunch, played games with the kids, and spent the rest of the afternoon at the same park we visited last week to work on and finish our stone carvings (It seemed like we were there WAY too long!). The kids talked Mr. Moon into buying ice cream for all of us on the way home, which I was grateful NOT to have a reaction to (I am lactose intolerant). We ate a fish dinner, listened to a local family's drum performance (Very impressive!), and spent the rest of the night preparing "Stand by Me" and our national anthem medley for the festival. I am ready for ALL of our performances to be over with!

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