Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hyundai Training Ctr Redux

I left the house this morning at 6:25 AM and have just gotten back at 8:25 PM. This, frankly, was not all that unusual last year, but I've gotten used to the easy life here in Seoul, where I leave at 7:25 AM and get home at 3:35 or 4:35 PM, depending on the day.

But today was the 2008 SMOE High School NEST Co-Teaching Workshop; it was held at Yong-In, at the same Hyundai Training Center where we spent Hell Week back at the end of August. I must say, it seems so long ago, but it was immediately familiar and comfortable, as my first contact with Korea. Aside from socializing with Gavin, Steve and Andy, I got to spend the whole day in the company of Miss Cho. So how bad could it be?

Well, it wasn't great, starting with the commute--all the way to Seolleung station, about 50 minutes on the sardine-can green line, then almost to the end of the "Bundang" (bright yellow) line at Migeum, nearly as diametrically south-east of Deungchon-dong as you can get and still use the subway. A twenty-minute charter bus ride completed the trip. Click on the "subway map" link to your right under Useful Information to see what I'm talking about.

Anyway, the focus of the seminar was co-teaching: relationships, information-sharing and lesson plan development. In a sense, there was little new here, as most of the information came from the usual suspects, Dave D and Nick Wossisname, who were key presenters back in August. I might have picked up a couple of promising websites, a couple of lesson plans and an instrument to help improve co-teacher communication.

But mainly I got validation. It seems most other teachers in the program are in the same situation I am in--experiencing the same problems and successes I do: a handful of co-teachers with a wide range of English ability and willingness to contribute, a mix of unmotivated and highly capable students in the same classroom, frustration with a curriculum fixated on fine points of grammar rather than functional language acquisition resulting in students who see English as something to memorize rather than use, an administration supportive but confused about the role of this new "Conversational English" dictum in their school.

Further, if the "sample lessons" with which we were presented are any indication, I believe I am ahead of the curve, both with lessons that are interesting and that give the students opportunities to speak and practice their conversational skills. My classroom is as well-equipped as most, and certainly has what I feel I need.

On the whole, I'm not sure the fourteen hour day is an even trade for validation, but it gave me an excuse not to go to the gym.

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