Debate and New Room and Speaking Tests and Open Classes…..

Oh man. I was warned that the month of May would be busy but whoever said that really wasn’t F$%@ing around.


Chris and I both have debate to do. There is a national competition sometime in the future, so for now, we are both doing preliminary work. His school had somewhere around 70 students who wanted to compete, I believe my school had around 80. (There is a huge competition between our middle schools since they’re a block away from each other. So I’m pretty proud to say we had more students who wanted to participate haha). Both school are (unsurprisingly) doing it differently. Chris’s school is doing a true debate – 2 teams who want to participate compete and respond to one another. For some reason, my school was running the preliminary round as some kind of speech competition. That students would just say why they believe their position is right. Unfortunately most of my students just memorized answers so I feel we may have picked a very inefficient way of doing this. It was only the students who memorized the best answers who will be moving on.

What this meant was staying after school. Chris stayed until around 6pm on Thursday, the next day I had to stay until 8pm. Then last week I had another round and stayed until 8:30.

The questions are interesting, at least.

  1. Korea wants to switch to electronic tablets to replace textbooks. This is a good idea  because it could reduce the amount of books students would have to carry around. It could even save the schools money since they buy text books every year for each individual student (they write in them). However students could easily pass through security measures and just do what they want all day during class. Not to mention the already-high screen addiction going on here.
  2. Korea uses a “Green Mileage System” a point system to try to increase discipline without hitting students. Students hate this system (because some of them are still hit anyway). So almost every team spoke against it saying the system is unfair because some teachers don’t notice when students do something good, some teachers may give points based on mood and that some students can win points back even if they have been very bad.
  3. Should cyber bullying that occurs outside of school be punished by the school? Another interesting question because this is an issue America is having right now too.

There were 2 other questions but not very many other groups covered them.

New Room

Since the very first day I stepped into my school I’ve had a room of my own. The problem was everything was broken. It has a smart board that was all kinds of broken. When it was fixed, the sound went to hell. So it’s been out of  use since I started teaching 2 months ago.

A week ago, I was working with 1st grade students. We were doing a fun speaking and drawing game to let them have a little fun time after all their midterms. Well, the vice principal showed up and was not too happy about how “loud” we were. She lectured my co-teacher for a while and then left. But that wasn’t the end of it, she complained to everyone about my conversation class being too loud (not sure how to get 40 people to practice a foreign language without being a little loud). So she pressured the re-opening of the “Englishville” (my classroom is a village, apparently) so that I could stop “interrupting” the other classes.

So the transition into the room has been a little abrupt with one co-teacher. And nonexistent with the others. Still, suddenly moving to your “own room” that’s still filled with the last guy’s crap and trying to use all the new technology has been a little taxing. Not to mention the board is still a little broken and 2/4 speakers are broken.

Update: now the speakers are broken again but I’m supposed to use it still. Why are we using this room?

Speaking Tests

Chris and my school run near-clockwork to each other. This has been extremely handy for us because he will say “oh I have debate stuff” and then the next day I’ll find out I have debate stuff too. I’ll find out about something, then a few days later he will too. Being together gives us a chance to prepare for whatever. Because whatever one of us does, the other person is probably going to do it too.

Except for speaking tests. Which is disconcerting for him.

I have to conduct speaking tests for about 850 students. Basically an English speed-date with all of them. It’s about 1 minute 30 at the longest So for the whole next week, or more, I will be conducting these tests instead of my regular lessons. It’s nice not to have to lesson plan but it’s stressful to grade these kids. I’m often too harsh or too open, never a happy-medium.

Open Class

Chris had his open class a few weeks ago. It was insanely stressful (hence I knew I had one coming up, thanks Chris!). Your co-teacher stresses hard about it, they demanded it to be a certain way that actually kind-of falsifies how you would ordinarily teach. The worst of all is that they need it written a certain way. In Chris’s case, they weren’t nice about it. EPIK and our TEFL course (and just about everyone) uses a very similar lesson plan style. EPIK and DMOE have both told us to use the one we’re currently using. So Chris submits his like this.

“That’s not how you lesson plan. No one does it like this.”

“EPIK had us do this kind. So I thought it was the-”

“No, EPIK doesn’t do it like this.”

His co-teacher can be a bit of a you know what sometimes. But it turned into a 3 day ordeal that crashed his computer 5+ times. They had to use the Korean version of the lesson plan that isn’t on microsoft office or any thing, but a Korean specific word processing program. It will not open on a computer unless it installed (duh). No matter how many times Chris suggested this, they didn’t care or listen. Finally they came up with the ideas on their own that – oh, he doesn’t have the program to open the file. So they installed it. And it crashed and crashed and crashed. It was a nightmare for him.

Needless to say, I was almost shaking in my boots when I heard “Oh I forgot to tell you, you have an open class.”

“when” I asked breathlessly. “Today?”

“No. May 30th” *huge sigh of relief*

“Which class?” My coteacher spent about 3 minutes finding the class. The whole time I’m imagining all the possible horrible classes it could be. Oh no, what if it’s 3-5? They hate me.

Oh god! What if it’s 3-7!!!

 Oh SHIT. What if it’s 2-7!!! –2-7 has “Didn’t try. Didn’t listen. Acted like *$&@ers” written on my little private chart.

Please don’t let it be 2-7.

I prayed for a girls class. And not a 2nd grade one. Because 2nd graders are so apathetic and can be so weird.

“2-8” she finally said.

Boys. 2nd grade.

The Rolling Stones “You can’t always get what you want” played in my head. But at least it wasn’t 2-7.

So now I get to do what Chris did. No.  I refuse.

I sat down with one of his old copies of the Korean-format from hell. And I completely remade it from scratch on Microsoft Word. And because I’m sure we are not the only people to suffer with this, we’re going to share this format for anyone else who has an open class. I’ll post it in a few days on our drive and link it here.

If you’re so stressed, then how are you finding the time to post about it on your blog, huh?

I got lucky. When I wrote this, it was Teacher’s Day (more about that later). And there was an Anti Smoking Campaign and an Earthquake Drill.

Which cancelled 3 classes for me. Such a gift. Best Teachers Day ever.





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