Thursday, February 12, 2015

More End-of-Year

We've adopted new textbooks for the fifth and sixth grades, planned obsolescence of Korean textbooks being just as aggressive as the American version, and I've been making pretty good progress creating and/adapting teaching materials during the last couple weeks.

Today, I was all alone in my office niche of the English classroom all day long. The phone did ring once, though, and I answered it despite the likelihood that the caller would hang up immediately upon realizing they would be expected to speak English. But, no, it was the office lady who is willing to speak English, who said to me, "Come get your ddeok."

A bit later, I got my ddeok, which is a kind of rice flour "cake" of which Koreans are inordinately fond. As for me, I like a lot of it, but some of it, like the one top right in the photo below, consisting mainly of partially cooked beans, is, well, like eating partially cooked beans.

The better kind come in really nice packaging. You can't quite see it well, but the closure on this box is a butterfly that fits through a slot in the top. These were the faculty's end-of-year gift from the parents association. Last year it was a towel.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

End-of-School-Year Post

While it's more or less true that the Korean school year ends around the same time as the calendar year, and the new school year begins on March 2nd, the two months in between do not consist entirely of unrelieved joy. Yes, there is vacation time, but there is also the matter of Winter Camp ... and the thing we've just been experiencing. There might be a proper name for it, but I just think of it as a "mini-mester". Three weeks worth. You've generally finished your textbooks/curricula, so you review or watch movies or do fun activities, or some combination of the three.

One of the features of this period is the end-of-year hwesik, or work dinner. And it is work. I'll grant that when I taught in high school, I looked forward to these events, as they invariably involved many members of the English department, mounds of grilled food, and a fair amount of drinking.

The elementary school hwesik is a different kettle of fish. At my school, there are only two people in the English department, one of whom was entirely missing at last night's function, and one of whom was missing most of it. This was Kyung-mi, who is leaving due to rotation after ten years at Yangmyung Elementary. This was sad for her, and also for me, as she was quite competent. Here she is giving her farewell remarks in the restaurant:

Happily, the food was quite good, with a variety of sushi-type things, some soups, salad and bo-sam, or steamed pork. Lovely.

I got in a few shots of soju with the principal, but since it was floor seating, I made an exit as early as decent, around two hours. No ee-cha or sam-cha to wait around for with these folks.

Today, the end-of-year stuff continued, as I had my last class--sixth-graders watching a horror movie that my CoT chose for them. I got the first copy of my timetable for next year, and it's fairly brutal: teaching periods one through four every day, plus fifth period Wed. and Fri. I'll also be teaching Afterschool again--until 2:30 on Monday and 3:30 on Wednesday.

Friday will be sixth grade graduation ending around noon, followed by a 7:45 AM flight Saturday morning to Bangkok. Surely the highlight of all the end-of-year activities!