Friday, May 2, 2014

New Contract Time

This week was re-contracting time here in The Seoul Patch, or more precisely at SMOE for August hires, so I had to fill out some paperwork and undergo an "open class" for the principal and VP. In the past, though I may have worried a bit about the re-contracting process, because there are definitely some aspects of capriciousness to it, I never sweated the "open class", because after 25 plus years teaching, I'm pretty confident in that area.

Or I was, until my co=teacher informed me that last year, under different administrators, they had not really been satisfied with my open class lesson. As she explained, it was "not anything special." Whatever that means. After all, it had clear objectives that matched the textbook, and the activities were designed to help students meet the objectives; there were different types of activities, focused on listening and speaking. The students were successful and there was definitely co-teaching go on. All things that we are told over and over in the SMOE workshops. And I was told that this time I had to do it without a co-teacher.

So my open class this year was to be period 2 of lesson 4 in the fifth grade book (from YBM/Chronjae), which is titled "Say Hello to the Class". In period 1, the story is about two new students, named Sneeze and Hiccup, who join Magic School. "I like magic," enthuses Sneeze, "I am interested in broom class." Hiccup likes wand class. Magic School? Broom class? An homage, let's call it, to Harry Potter's wizarding world.

I won't go into excruciating detail, but my lesson made the relation to Harry Potter explicit. First, I ask a few questions to review the previous lesson, then I ask if they know of any movies that are about a magic school. They know, of course, about Hogwarts. I've been to the trouble of finding an HP clip and applying English subs, warning them that there's a lot of tough language in the clip, but just try to observe what they can about this magic school.

I turn off the lights, and when the clip is over, I make an entrance just like Snape does, wearing a wizard hat and cape. It is a hit. Next we go through a PPT I've made practicing the target sentences of the previous lesson, ending with the team having to unscramble such sentences about HP characters, for points: I am interested in plants. I like gardening. (Neville Longbottom) He is interested in dragons. He likes wyverns and griffins. (Hagrid) She is interested in birds. She likes birdwatching. (Cho) etc.

Eleven or twelve minutes have elapsed, and now we do the practice conversation from the text. I have made and printed out a cloze sheet (fill-ins) for each student. They write in the missing words the first time the conversation is played, then there is a listen and repeat section--nothing earth-shattering here. Next, the teams may volunteer to stand up and read the conversation as a role-play. Now is the fun part--I pull out wizard hats and a broom for them! Lo and behold, every team is chomping at the bit for their turn. Some photos:

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Since all the teams do it, this segment runs about fifteen minutes. Next, we play the "Sleeping Elephants Game" only I've re-done it into Sleeping Dragons. Each team gets a mini-whiteboard, and all put their heads down on the desk. One by one, team members/dragons "wake up" to see a part of a sentence revealed on a PPT slide. At the end, all the team members work together to write down the sentence. If they are correct, they earn a point.

We play this game until there are five minutes remaining in class, and we finish with the other main element of the textbook for this lesson, the "Rap Box." There's one in period 2 of each chapter. Mostly they're dreck, like this one--the idea is solid, it just lacks in the execution.

So that's my re-contracting open class. (Okay, so I did go into considerable detail, but I hope it wasn't excruciating!) I got to practice it twice on other sections before the one in front of the administrators and other teachers, so it went flawlessly. I have to admit I took extra care and extra time in developing this lesson, and was even a bit nervous about it.

Now, here's where it gets a little bit odd. The VP and P are no-shows! My main co-teacher whispers to me that they have to be off-campus (remember, they set this date and time about three weeks ago). They're not coming. The only observers/scorers are my two co-teachers, both of whom support me. "So just relax," she tells me. "They trust our opinion." I was relaxed, but disappointed: I wanted them to see me at work! especially having gone to these lengths to make a great lesson.

Anyway, by the end of the next day, I still had not heard about whether I would get a new contract, so now I was getting nervous. But finally, Wednesday morning during the break after first class, my Co tells me the principal has approved my new contract, "Congratulations!"

So, assuming I pass my medical check sometime in July, I am set for another year of jollity and teaching here on the peninsula.

Next issue: Where to go on my summer vacation? Places I have not been: Nepal, Mongolia, Laos. Places I want to try again: Philippines, Vietnam, Japan. Anyone...?


JIW said...

How many years do you think SMOE will keep rehiring you? Aren't they phasing out native-English teachers? Just wondering.

Tuttle said...

Hi Joy!

Long time no hear!

I really have no answer for your question, I'm just going one year at a time.

They have been "phasing out" English teachers for at least four years, but despite the Chicken Littles out there, SMOE still takes in new NETs every intake. It's true though, that from the 400 or so when I came in 3008, they took on;y about 80 in Feb this year.