Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stressed to the Max!

Alas!!! The work of the portfolio is finished!! I have put a lot of man hours into collecting work and writing and now it seems likes it’s over. Yesterday I submitted my portfolio and now I can clear my mind a little. That might have been the most mentally abusive project I have ever experienced, but I am proud and happy it is complete.
This has not been the best week. It was suppose to be a week of relaxation because there was no school this week due to “Children’s Day”, but of course I spent most of it making changes to my portfolio and added some last minute artifacts and just not feeling satisfied with my work. Then…I had been having such a good time at the school. I was coming to school early, I was creating great lessons and they were all going really well, and I was starting to feel like I had dug myself out of the hole, but then Thursday came. There was no school this week except for on Thursday. The fourth grade was going on a field trip to tour the city of Seoul. My CT asked me last week if I wanted to go. She gave me option of either coming along on the field trip or taking the day off. I thought it would be a good experience first of all to see how Koreans run their field trips and also because I had yet to have a tour of Seoul. So I said I would love to go. On Thursday I left about 20 minutes earlier than I usually do and I took a taxi to school and guess what!? There was apparently an accident and it caused a lot of traffic and I was stuck right in the middle of it. I tried to contact Ms. Lee to let her know I would be about 15 or 20 minutes late, but she never responded. By the time I got to school it was 9:10 and the whole fourth grade and all the teachers had already left. So I left Ms. Lee a message on the school communication system and worked on my portfolio until about 11:00, then I went to Korea University’s library and finished working on my portfolio. Later that day I received some text messages from Jen Kang saying that Ms. Lee was very upset with me for missing the field trip and not letting her know and I hope I can resolve this when I return to the school on Monday. I want to apologize to you and Ms. Lee for this incident. I hope this doesn’t send me deeper into the hole.
On a better note, my personal life here for this past week has been good. Last weekend three of my friends and I went on a trip to the sea. We left a little late in the day so instead of taking about 3 hours to drive there, it took 7 hours because of all the traffic. Seoul is a crazy place for traffic!!! However, it was a fun trip and was completely relaxing and just the pick me up I needed for the previous drama that I have been experiencing. On the trip we walked along the beach, it was a little too cold to go swimming but it was still very nice to just look at the ocean and watch the sun set. Later that night we shot off fireworks on the beach along with about 50 other people. It was just a one day trip but it was very nice and comforting.
Tomorrow I am going on another trip because we don’t have school on Monday. This time 6 of my friend and I are taking a train to the northern part of the Han river to stay at this amazing resort and do watersports. Apparently they have some things called banana boats and fly fishing (which is not fishing at all) and I am so excited to go. I think it is going to be a great time and I hope it will ease my mind from the stress I have been through this week.
Next week I am not too excited about teaching. I will be teaching Physical education. I like PE, but I don’t really think I’m qualified to teach it and I am concerned because I will be teaching 2 classes at one time. This means I will have about 70 students in each session that I teach. That is way too many 8 and 9 year olds to teach and watch over. I really hope that the homeroom teachers can help me out, because I worry about the rambunctious-ness of the students and if I can control them. My classroom management plan really needs some adjustments to teaching a P.E. class.
One thing I am getting excited about is the drama class I working with. Our play is coming up in a couple of weeks so we only have about 5 or 6 more rehearsals and these students are working so hard. They are all 5th and 6th grade students and their English levels are great and they are completely dedicated to this play. I am excited to see how the performance goes. Next week we will be working on their costumes and I just think it is a really fun aspect of this student teaching experience. These are the students that I get to work with on a one-to-one basis and therefore have been able to first of all learn their names and secondly form good relationships with them. In my other classes I have 34-40 students who I see in a class twice a week, it is difficult to learn everyone’s names or get to spend real time getting to know them and developing a teacher-student relationship. I think I have rambled on enough for now…til next time….

Friday, May 2, 2008

Time to Assess

These are various assessments I used throughout my teaching. Some were formal and some were informal.

The first one is a picture of the students holding up numbers. This was for my first lesson I taught on “Place Value”. In this activity the students were all given numbers and I would call out a phrase such as “I need a 2 in the ones place” and any student who had a number 2 would race up to the front of the classroom and get in the correct position. This activity allowed me to informally assess the students’ understanding of both English numbers and the location of place value. After the full number was created, together as a class we would read the number. For example in the picture shown the students would read the number as fifteen thousand, six hundred, ninety-two. This activity went extremely well and I was able to see that the students all understood the locations of the different place values as well as the names of English numbers. In addition, the students really enjoyed this activity and were excited to participate. I also like how it got the students involved and out of their seats. The lesson I observed of the Korean teachers usually had the students stay at their desks and just listen to the teacher lecture and watch him/her write on the board.

The second picture is from the same lesson on place value, but is a different activity. In this activity I wrote a number on the board such as “25,678”. I would then have two students sit in front of the board where there were several different numbers written. Each student would be given a flyswatter to use to identify the value I call. I would then say a phrase such as, “What is the value of the 6?” The students with the flyswatters would then find the “600” written on the board and hit it with their flyswatter. This activity allowed me to assess the students’ understanding of the place value and the worth of the number in each place value position. I like this activity because every student was given the opportunity to show their understanding two times because we went in order of the rows. Unlike the first activity where only the students who were quickest to get up to the board to display their numbers were able to show their understanding, this activity required every student to participate at least two times.

The third picture shows a group of students playing a memory game that I used in my lesson on Multiplication Properties. In this activity the students worked in groups of four and played a game of memory where they had to match multiplication equations to one of the four types of multiplication properties. During this activity I walked around the classroom and observed the students. In addition after the students matched all of the cards, they had to call me over and I would check their matched to make sure they were correct. This was a good way of informally assessing the students abilities to identify the properties when look at an equation. I think this activity was very successful. However, since the words were completely new to the students I left the notes on the board for them to use as reference, so I was able to assess if the students could remember the different types without having other equations from each property to use as a reference.

The fourth picture is a photo of a student’s creation of the three types of triangles from my triangle lesson plan. With this activity the students used straws and/or toothpicks to create the three types of triangles and write the names of the triangles. I collected all of these from each of my classes and graded them individually. I was impressed with the students’ work. Many of the students even wrote the names of the types of triangles in both English and Korean on their papers. This helped me to see that they truly understood what I had taught them because they could show their understanding by using what they had previously learned from their Korean teachers. The one issue with this assessment that I noticed was that sometimes it was difficult to tell if the students had created a scalene triangle or an isosceles because the lengths of the sides were not exact and hard to distinguish if the sides were equal. I think this assessment could have been improved by having the students measure and write the measurements of the sides or create larger representations which would show the difference in the lengths much more clearly.

I also have a variety of worksheets and quizzes that I have given the students and have student samples of. However, currently I don't have access to a scanner and when I take a picture of the page it is really blurry. I also don't know if it is possible to upload the original document from microsoft word so you can at least see a blank copy, but I will try to find out and add more of my assessments soon. I will also see if I can find a scanner to scan actual student samples to add to this blog as well.

Multiplication Properties Lesson Plan

Lesson Name: Multiplication Properties

Grade Level/Subject: 4th Grade/Math
Type of Lesson: Direct Instruction
Materials: Multiplication Properties PowerPoint, Multiplication Properties Memory Cards (1 set per group), “What’s the Property” worksheets

1. Students will be able to identify and describe the four multiplication properties.
2. Students will be able to match an equation to one of the four multiplication properties.

Anticipatory Set:

Have many multiplication equations with the answers written on the board (be sure to include ones that follow the identity and zero properties). Ask the students if they notice any kind of patterns in these multiplication problems.

Encourage the students to realize that anything multiplied by 1 equals itself and anything multiplied by 0 equals 0. Explain that these are actually two properties of multiplication and that today we are going to learn four multiplication properties.

Actual Lesson:

Using a PowerPoint presentation explain the four properties of multiplication
o Identity 2 x 1 = 2 and 1 x 98 = 98
o Commutative 3 x 4 = 4 x 3
o Associative 4 x (5 x 8 ) = (4 x 8 ) x 5
o Zero 34 x 0 = 0 and 2 x 0 = 0

While explaining each of the properties via the PowerPoint, create a table on the chalkboard with four columns (one for each property) and have the students provide examples to be written in each column. Leave this table up for the students to use as a reference for the activity.

Students will then play a game of memory/matching.

Students will be put into groups of 3 or 4 and each group will be given a set of multiplication memory cards. Half of the cards have multiplication problems on them and the other half have one of the four multiplication properties.

The students will lay all of their cards face down on their desk(s) in even rows.

The object of the game is to get two cards that match: one will be a multiplication equation and the other will be the multiplication property that is shown in that equation. The students will take turns turning over two cards at a time. If the two cards they chose were correct, they get to keep those two cards and take another turn. If the two cards chosen do not match, they must put the cards face down where they were and it is the next person’s turn to pick two cards.

Once all of the cards have been drawn and matched, the group should raise their hands and the teacher will check to see if their answers are correct. The player with the largest number of correctly matched cards wins.

Students will play the game until ten minutes remain in class. Some students may play more than one game within that timeframe.

Guided Practice:

The teacher helps the students to develop sample equations for each of the multiplication properties.

The teacher walks around the classroom to check for correctly matched cards during the memory game.

Independent Practice:

The students determine if the cards match during the memory game.

The students complete the “What’s the Property?” worksheet..


Students will work on the “What’s the Property?” worksheet. The first 3 questions will be answered as a class.

Extended Practice:

Have the students create their own equations to use in the memory game and play the game with other students.

Informal Math Lesson Plan on Place Value

Lesson Plan

Date: March 24-25
Period: 1~2/9
Unit: 1. Large Numbers
Topic: Place Value up to 10 Thousand

Lesson Objectives:
To understand the different place value positions up to ten thousands.
To identify the value of numbers as determined by their place value position.

PowerPoint presentation (see attached handout) Will review the place value positions, value of numbers, and three forms of writing numbers.

A. Building a Number Activity
1. students will each be given one number. The students will be racing to create a given large number.
2. I will tell the class that I need a specific digit in a specific place value position. The student who has that digit will race other students who have that digit to be the first to fill the place value position. One student will also be the comma that follows the thousands place.
3. After the number is created, the class will recite the number together and return to their seats to build another number.

B. Place Value Worksheet

Students will work individually while I set up for the next activity.
These worksheets will be collected at the end of class.
Place Value Flyswatter Activity:
1. Several values will be written on the board prior to the activity and the class will be divided into two teams.

2. Each team will send one member of their group to sit in a chair that has been positioned towards the chalkboard. Each team representative will be given a flyswatter.
3. I will write a number on the board such as 92,468. Then I will ask a value from that number, such as the value of the 4. The team representatives must find that value from the several written on the board and smack it with his/her flyswatter. The first person to smack the correct number wins a point for their team.

Students will finish and hand in their completed worksheets.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Hope It's a Comeback!

Last week I returned to teaching math. We learned about triangles and we made these really cool triangle pages at the end of the lesson. Basically the students had to use toothpicks or straws (depending on the class) to create the three different types of triangles and glue them onto a green piece of paper. The students then had to identify on their papers the names of the different types of triangles. It was a pretty simple project and the students were very successful with it. The teachers seemed to really like the hands on crafting of the triangles and two of the teachers said they wanted their students’ triangles returned to them. This was strange to me because usually the teachers tell me to keep the assignments I collect from the students or give them directly back to the students, because I think they are really not interested in seeing the students’ work.
This week I taught two more science lessons: one of batteries and one of light bulbs. After the drama that has occurred over the past couple weeks I have really been feeling down and unsuccessful as a teacher, student, and a person as well. I was determined to make last week with the math lessons and this week with the science lessons fantastic. I put forth 150% energy and I tried to show that I care about the students (since that was the criticism I received from Ms. Lee; she said I didn’t show that I care about the students). I worked really hard on my lessons and I created PowerPoints, hands on projects, a quiz, and even a little story to aid me in my lessons and just make them better. I don’t know if the teachers liked my lessons or not; honestly they acted the same way they did before which is not showing much emotion or excitement either way. I am going to do my best to continue to put forth this kind of effort so that I can show both you and everyone in Korea and everyone at UMSL that I am a good teacher and I am not slacking in any way.
Aside from being at the school, I haven’t been doing anything the past two weeks. I’ve been taking some time to think about why any accusations were brought against me and how I could have left this kind of impression with people and of course I’m still puzzled, but I hope that my behavior now can truly reflect the kind of student/teacher I know I am. I only have about 4 weeks left of teaching and I want you to know that I have been trying all semester and I will continue to try even harder for the remaining 4 weeks. Well, I have some grading to do as well as portfolio stuff so I have got to go!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Water and Oil Don't Mix Lesson Plan

Lesson Name: Water and Oil Don’t Mix

Grade Level/Subject: 4th Grade/Science
Type of Lesson: Experiment
Materials: Vocabulary Cards with English/Korean, test tubes with stoppers, test tube racks, cooking oil, colored water, eye droppers, Water and Oil PowerPoint

1. Students will be able to follow the procedure to complete the mixing and separating of oil and water experiment
2. Students will be able to demonstrate that some materials do not mix such as in the case of water and oil.
3. Students will be able to demonstrate that it is difficult to remove oil from an oil and water mixture.

Anticipatory Set:

Begin class by asking the question, “Can all liquids be mixed together?” Discuss the student responses.

Explain that today we are going to do an experiment to see if two specific liquids can form a mixture.

Post the new vocabulary on the board (water, oil, density) and have the students say the new vocabulary words aloud at least three times.

Actual Lesson:

Attempt to Mix Water and Oil Experiment

o The students will work in groups of four to perform this experiment.

o Have the students pour oil into a test tube until it is 1/4 full.

o Next, the students will add colored water to the test tube until it is 1/2 full.

o The students will not put the stopper into the test tube and each group member will shake the test tube for 10 seconds, so that the mixture has been shaken a total of 40 seconds. The test tube should then be placed in the test tube rack and the students will observe the mixture for one minute.

o Discuss with the students what they observe. Be sure to point out that the oil was poured in first, so it started out in the bottom of the tube, but now the water is at the bottom. Ask the students why they believe this happened?

o Explain the concept of density (the amount of mass an object has in relationship to the volume). Explain that equal amounts of water and oil were poured into the test tube, but one sank to the bottom. This is because the water is denser; it is heavier than the oil. Explain that because the density of the two liquids is so different, they will not mix.

Water and Oil PowerPoint

o Ask the students to think of a time when they saw oil and water not mixing in real life. Tell the students that they can see real life occurrences of water and oil not missing and these are provided in the PowerPoint.

o The final example from the PowerPoint of water and oil not mixing is in the case of oil spills. There are several pictures from the recent oil spill of Taean, which is only 170km SW of Korea.

o Explain what an oil spill is to the students and then ask them if they know why oil spills are so horrible.

Attempt to Clean Up an Oil Spill Activity

o Tell the students that we are going to pretend in our test tubes we have an oil spill. The colored water is going to represent the ocean and the cooking oil will represent oil. Give the students the task of removing all of the oil from their “ocean.” They can use the eye dropper or pour the oil out. Instruct them to alert you when they complete this task.

o This is an impossible task. The students will keep saying they have all the oil removed, but when they call you over you can find little drops of oil and tell the students that they have not removed it all.

o Let the students continue to attempt to remove the oil for about 7-9 minutes.

o Discuss with the students that it is impossible to remove every drop of oil from an oil spill. That is why they are so horrible, because once the oil has entered the ocean some of it will remain there forever.

Check for Understanding:
· What happens to the water and oil when they were shaken to be mixed together?
· Which one is denser: water or oil? How do you know this?
· Where can you find real life occurrences of water and oil not mixing?
· Why are oil spills such a dangerous situation?

Guided Practice:

The teacher helps lead the students through the experiment verbally and will provide physical assistance if needed.

Independent Practice:

The students complete the steps of the experiment themselves, but may ask for assistance if needed.


Review the new English vocabulary words. Have the students repeat after you at least three times.

Have the students explain what happened during the experiment to the oil and the water.

Extended Practice:

Have the students research an oil spill and write a short paper about the effects of the oil spill and how people removed the oil.

Dirty Salt Lesson Plan

Lesson Name: Dirty Salt

Grade Level/Subject: 4th Grade/Science
Type of Lesson: Experiment
Materials: Vocabulary Cards with English/Korean, mixture of salt and dirt, three beakers, water, stirrer, filter paper, funnel, clamp/stand, alcohol burner, dish, safety equipment (goggles and fire safe gloves)

1. Students will be able to use their prior knowledge to complete the separation experiment.
2. Students will be able to use a filtration process to separate dirt from a mixture of dirt, salt, and water.
3. Students will be able to use an evaporation process to separate salt from saltwater

Anticipatory Set:
· Tell the students that you have to tell them a horrible story. Continue by telling them the following story, “This morning my mother asked me to go to the market and buy some salt and then bring it to her when I come home from school. Well I bought the salt and I was going to be late for school so I was running and I tripped and fell and the bag of salt broke open and landed in a pile of soil. So I put the salt back in the bag, but now it has soil in it. I know my mother will not want to cook me any food with this salt, because we don’t eat soil. So what should I do? I need to find a way to get rid of the dirt so I can bring the salt to my mother after school today. Does anyone have any ideas?”
· Take responses from the students. Encourage them to think about the three previous experiments (the experiments involved separating mixtures such as soil and water or salt and water).

Actual Lesson:
Once the students realize that they have to use the skills they learned with the previous experiments help lead the students through this experiment. Don’t tell the students what to do next, have them come up with the ideas. As you move through the experiment put the new vocabulary words on the board in the correct order. Have the students repeat the English words at least three times.

Here is how the experiment should follow:

Add water to the mixture of salt and soil and stir to dissolve the salt. Ask the students what happens to the mixture when you added the water. Help them to understand that the soil sinks to the bottom of the mixture and the salt become dissolved in the water, so now they have a mixture of saltwater and dirt. Then introduce the new English vocabulary word: Dissolve.

Next, use the filter paper to filter the soil from the mixture. Create a cone with the filter paper and place it in the funnel with a beaker below to catch the saltwater. Allow time for the mixture to separate. Afterwards discuss with the students what happened to the saltwater and the soil. They should realize that the saltwater is now in the new beaker and the soil remains in the bottom of the old beaker and in the filter paper. Introduce the new English vocabulary word: Filtration

Now the students need to separate the salt from the water using an alcohol burner to evaporate the water. Have the students pour the saltwater into a dish and place the dish above the alcohol burner. It is at this time the students should put on their goggles and fireproof gloves. When they are ready, the teacher should go to each group and light their alcohol burner. Allow time for some of the water to evaporate. Ask the students if they can see any white stuff forming at the top of the dish. Help to realize that this is salt. Ask the students what is happening to the water. Where is it going? At this time introduce the new English vocabulary word: Evaporation. You will still need to allow time for all of the water to evaporate. Then discuss with the students what happened and explain that now we only have salt remaining in the dish.

Check for Understanding:
· What happens to the soil and salt when we add water to the mixture of soil and salt?
· How can we remove the soil from the saltwater and soil mixture?
· Where does the soil go when we filter the mixture?
· How can we separate the salt from the water?
· What happens to the water when we heat it up?
· What do we have remaining in the dish after all the water has evaporated?

Guided Practice:

The teacher helps lead the students through the experiment verbally and will provide physical assistance if needed.

Independent Practice:

The students provide the next steps in the experiment by using prior knowledge.

The students complete the steps of the experiment themselves, but may ask for assistance if needed.


Review the new English vocabulary words. Have the students repeat after you at least three times.

Have the students lead you through the process of this experiment verbally using the new English vocabulary.

Tell the students you are so thankful because now you can take the salt home to your mother and you won’t have to eat soil.

Extended Practice:

Have the students recreate the experiment using pictures. The students can create a storyboard showing the steps in this separation experiment and can include the new English vocabulary.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another Week Gone By

I felt like this week went really good for me. This was the first week I was teaching science and I loved it. First of all I loved it because unlike math (which I’ve been teaching every other week), the science concepts and lessons are given to me. I am not given vague ideas of what I am suppose to teach like, “Just teach multiplication and division” or “Teach something about angles,” I am actually given a specific topic and experiment to do and I love it. I wish I was given this kind of information for every subject I teach; it would make my experience here much less stressful. So this week was wonderful. All of my lessons were taught in the science lab and they went great. The first lesson I taught was about separating salt from a mixture of salt and dirt. We did this adding water, then filtering the dirt, and then evaporating the water so we would be left with just salt. I felt like this kind of experiment was a little advanced for fourth grade students, but they really seemed to understand the material. I knew there would be a lot of English vocabulary that the students were unfamiliar with so I prepared several posters that I put on the board that had the English vocabulary and beneath it the word in Korean. This really made the lesson go much more smoothly. The only issue I had with this lesson, was that part of the experiment required the students to evaporate water over an alcohol burner. So the students had fire/flames at their table and of course some of the boys being the mischievous 9 year olds they are tried to light some things on fire such as their flame gloves and paper. This issue was quickly resolved as I made them sit out for the rest of the experiment; actually they had to stand at the back of the classroom. Their teacher had a few words with them as well and made the boys cry. This happened in one of the first couple classes I taught this lesson with, so after that I made it a point to talk about safety and rules before we began the experiment and I didn’t have any more problems.

The second experiment we did was about mixing oil and water. With this lesson I was able to have a little bit of room to add my own creativity. So in addition to the required experiment of the students having to try and mix oil and water and seeing what happens, I did another activity. I taught them through a PowerPoint about real life situations of oil and water mixing such as a ducks feathers, salad dressing, gasoline in rain puddles, and then ocean oil spills. I was able to relate the oil spill to their real life because of the Taenen oil spill that just happened in December. All the students knew about it because it is so close to South Korea. What I had the students do after I introduced oil spills to them, was I gave them a goal. I said the first group who can remove all the oil from their water and oil mixture experiment would win a prize. So the groups quickly started trying to remove the oil with an eye dropper. Several groups would call me over and say they were finished, then I would show them the oil I still saw in their mixture. Of course no one was able to remove all the oil, and that was the point I was trying to get across to the students. I wanted them to understand that when we have an oil spill in the ocean, it is impossible to remove every drop of oil from the water, so oil will always remain in the ocean. After doing the competition, I showed the students some pictures through PowerPoint of how people helped out to remove the oil using a method similar to the way they were removing the oil. This lesson went so good and I was just really proud of it.

The third lesson I taught this week was about using chromatography to separate the ink from markers. This lesson went really well too, but I didn’t have the chance to add much creativity because I had to include so many things in a 40 minute timeframe. Even so, the lesson went really well and students enjoyed it. This was another lesson I felt was a little advanced for this age group. I didn’t do this kind of experiment until I was in high school. However, the students really seemed to understand what we were doing and were able to answer questions concerning the process and results of the activity. I just feel really good about how my lessons went this week. It makes it so much easier to be at school when I feel good about what I’m teaching. I’m not really looking forward to next week because I have to go back to teaching math and once again I have been given vague instructions on what to teach. But then after that I get to return to science which will be wonderful.

Even though I am enjoying the teaching, I am feeling a little overworked and having a hard time to rest and gain energy. Every week I teach 22 classes in 4 days. That’s a lot of work and preparation. Then in addition to teaching I am trying to get all my assignments done for UMSL as well as get everything prepared for my portfolio. My days are so long, I leave for school around 7 or 7:15 in the morning and then I don’t return to the dormitory until around 6:00 or 6:30 at night. Then I go have dinner and then work on school stuff and go to bed. This kind of work makes me long for the weekends just so I can sleep more, rest, relax, and enjoy myself. I just changed my departure day from May 31st to June 14th and I am so excited. This will give me three weeks to travel around Korea and get to experience some more culture. I am so looking forward to it.

One of the English teachers at the school, Eric, and me started a new tradition last week. We decided every Tuesday after school we would go out to dinner. All the teachers are invited and we will just have a good time getting to know one another. Last week the only people who came were the English teachers. This week we had two Korean 3rd grade teachers join us and it was a fun time. Just being at the school teaching, you don’t really get to form relationships with the teachers; however, at this dinner we learned a lot about each other and I feel like I’ve made new friends. They said they would come back next Tuesday and bring more teachers. I really enjoy this kind of thing, because it helps me to feel welcome at the school, which I usually don’t feel. I often feel like I am a burden at the school because on several occasions I have shown up to my scheduled class and the teachers didn’t know I was coming. A couple of times they have just told me to leave because they needed to finish their lessons and the other times the teachers appear frustrated because they have to stop in the middle of their lessons and let me teach.

I feel like everything is going so great both inside and outside of the school. However there is one thing that had been frustrating me a lot and that is that everything is a competition here. This is true both in the classrooms with the students, who are always playing some kind of competing game and outside of the classroom between the teachers. My cooperating teacher has made me feel like I should be competing with Michael. Michael and I have very different personalities, teaching styles, and amounts of experience. Michael has a lot of experience with teaching due to both his internship and his job with an afterschool program. On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of experience. This is my first experience of teaching. My internship consisted of me grading papers and walking the students to and from their special classes, recess, and lunch. I’ve never had any kind of teaching job…the ones I could get wouldn’t let me pay my bills. Since Michael has so much experience, he knows exactly what he is doing and how to do it best. I am still learning a lot about teaching and I know I am not as good as teacher as Michael, but I don’t feel like I should be competing with him and I feel like my CT thinks I should. Having Michael at the school has made my experience there very difficult. I am constantly getting compared to him and because he does such a good job he makes me look really bad. I work really hard to be a good teacher and have good lessons and I always put forth the maximum amount of effort, but I get the feeling this isn’t good enough for my CT. I have tried to talk to her about this and this issue never really gets resolved. I would love to improve with my teaching, but the only way I can do that is to get some feedback from someone. My CT is so busy that she never has time to meet with me and discuss my lesson plans or my lessons. The only feedback I have been able to get is from the other teachers, but it is very limited due to their English speaking abilities. This is the first time I have ever felt inadequate. In high school and in college I have been extremely successful. I’ve always gotten good grades and my teachers always realized how hard I worked. Being at this school in Korea, I feel like a failure. This is first time I have ever felt this way and I don’t know how to resolve this issue. As of right now, my goal is just to continue working hard and hope that others will see that I am doing my best. This has been bothering me since I arrived here, but I try not to let it get me down. That’s why I don’t take this into consideration when I think about how my week went. So if I pretend this issue isn’t there, I can enjoy the teaching experience and that’s what I’ve been doing.

Since I have been enjoying my time in Korea, I don’t feel like I want to go home yet. I would love to stay for another year. I have been talking to the English teachers at the school about it and one of their English academies that they work at is hiring new teachers this June. I am thinking applying to teach for a one year contract here. I have talked about it with my husband and he’s on the fence about whether or not he wants us to do it. I feel like this is what I want to do for the next few years. I would love to just spend a year or two in a country teaching English and then move to another country and just travel and teach until I am ready to go back to the states. I’m sure I would enjoy teaching in the states, but not yet.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Where Math Ends and Science Begins

Yesterday I had a very interesting experience. Colin Powell came to Korea University to give a speech on international relations between the United States and Korea. His speech was good and he did half an hour of Q&A. But the best part of the experience happened when he was coming into the auditorium. There were so many people there that many of us were crammed in the back just standing to watch. Well as he was coming in they cleared a path and I was standing at the edge of the path. As Colin Powell walked in he came over to me, said “Hi, how are you?” and shook my hand!!!! I was the only person whose hand he shook and the only person he talked to. It was so amazingly weird. I am assuming since I was the only Caucasian standing in the crowd I stood out a little bit and he recognized that I probably looked American and decided to greet me. It is an experience I will never forget and never stop laughing about. I just wanted to get that out of the way before I forgot!

This was my last week of teaching mathematics before I move onto teaching science. I have really enjoyed teaching math and I think it’s been good for the students because they are learning a lot of English math terms. So far everything I have taught the students is something they have already been taught in Korea, but now they are getting it in English. I think this is beneficial to them for a couple of reasons. 1. It provides them with English lessons. They already know the names of angles and place value positions in Korean, but now they have learned the same things in English. 2. It provides the students with an opportunity to practice what they have learned in Korean. One thing I have noticed about Korean teaching is that the teachers move fairly quickly through the concepts and therefore the students do not get much time to practice what they have learned, as they would in an American school. I think practice if beneficial to the students and thus I believe being introduced ( I couldn’t think of a better word) the same subject more than once is a good way for the students to practice.

My biggest issue that I have had so far with the student teaching is the amount of guidance I am receiving from my CT. She hasn’t yet been able to go over my lesson plans with me before I teach them or even tell me her opinions or the opinions of other teachers about my lessons. So far I haven’t received any complaints so I am assuming I am doing okay, I just would like some kind of feedback whether it be positive or negative. Because right now I am feeling a little useless and, I don’t know that I am considered by them to be a real teacher. I think the other teachers think that my teaching is just a time-filler for the students. I am a little jealous of Michael and his CT because they meet with each other a couple times a week and she gives specifics on what to teach and also provides feedback and guidance. I know that Ms. Lee (my CT) is busier than Michael’s because she is in charge of the 4th grade and the other foreign teachers at the school. She has given me the material for my lessons I will be teaching next week in Science, but it is not that helpful. She basically gave me the student textbook with the lab lessons and suggested I use the picture to write the lessons and/or find a Korean friend to help me translate it. From the pictures I can see the basics of the experiments, but quite frankly I’m a little afraid I will leave out important information if I don’t know the exact translation. The other problem is she just gave these to me Thursday and wants me to email the lessons to her by Sunday in order for her to go over them and I will begin teaching on Monday. Since we don’t go to school on Fridays, this doesn’t give me much time to consult with her about the lessons before I write them or even teach them. I plan on discussing this with her next week and seeing if she can help me more with some feedback and also go over the lessons with me before I write them and teach them.

That’s pretty much it for now. I'm running low on mental juices and I have a lot of work to do this weekend!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Classroom Management Plan

Classroom Management Plan
Amanda Waterman-Howell
March 23, 2008


Philosophy of Classroom Management
A classroom that is managed well creates an environment that is beneficial to both the students and the teacher. Classroom management is key to having a successful classroom. It is important to have rules, procedures, and routines. All three are crucial for behavior management, productive learning, and efficient use of time. The students and the teacher need to work together and have mutual respect and understanding for one another. The teacher always needs to make decisions based on what is best for the students and what can be done so that each student has the opportunity be successful.

I am committed to making my classroom an organized, safe, and challenging environment. I will have many routines and procedures that will help our classroom stay organized and functional. These will include methods for coming in to the classroom, turning in homework, passing out papers, lining up, etc. Students will have many opportunities to practice these procedures and they will quickly become routine. I also want to know all of my students and will accomplish this through one-on-one interaction. I believe that it is important to meet the needs of my students. I want every student to feel comfortable with their classmates and myself. This will allow for there to be meaningful interactions and discussions. I also want my students to be motivated to learn and therefore I plan to have an engaging curriculum. I want challenge them every day to learn and accomplish more. I feel if I can do these things, my classroom will be well managed and therefore successful.

There are three theorists that I feel I can identify with the most: Howard Gardner, Albert Bandura, and Robert Gagne. Each of these theorists has ideas and tips that I believe would be extremely advantageous in my classroom. I plan to use ideas from other theorists as well, but theories from these three helped create the foundation of my classroom management plan.

The Multiple Intelligences Theory from Howard Gardner is something I think is extremely important to take into consideration in the classroom. This theory states that people learn and express their knowledge in different ways. Some people learn linguistically while others do better with spatial knowledge. I know that all of my students will not have the same way of learning or the same intelligence type. Thus, I will create lessons that provide information in various ways. I will use several methods of instruction. Sometimes I may just be lecturing, other times the students will be working in groups. I plan to try and provide ways so that all of my students have the opportunity to learn in a method that is best for them. In addition I will provide different forms of assessment. My students will have choices on how they would like to be assessed. Some of their choices may include taking a multiple choice test, creating a project, or giving an oral presentation. Another important part of Gardner’s theory is cultural importance. Different cultures emphasize particular intelligences. I find this to be important because this means I will need to know the culture of my students and take that into consideration when planning lessons, activities, and assessments.

The second theorist, Albert Bandura, has a theory about people and self efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner or attaining certain goals. Bandura believes that people are more inclined to take on a task if they believe they will succeed. The more self efficacy someone has, the more motivation that person will have to complete a task. In addition they will produce better outcomes if they are motivated and confident in their abilities. As a teacher I will work hard to increase my students’ confidence. Thus, I want my students to believe they will succeed. I plan to be a role model and a cheerleader for them. I will encourage them and praise them, so that their self efficacy will increase. Bandura suggests building self efficacy through interactive and collaborative learning. I plan to use these methods of learning in my classroom by providing opportunities to work and learn in groups. By doing these things students will gain more than just knowledge. They will gain a feeling of pride and success that will help them in future learning.

Robert Gagne, the third theorist I identify with, developed the “Nine Events of Instruction”. This is a guideline for how to teach something. I use these nine events as the basis for my instruction. First the teacher has to “gain the attention” of the students. This can be done by finding a way to get the students interested in the topic. For example the teacher can connect the topic to their real lives or a plan a fun activity. It just needs to be something that draws their attention. Next it is important to “inform the students of the objectives.” I plan to always explain to my students what I want them to learn from the lesson and what I will expect them to do with the knowledge. Personally I find it easier to learn something new if I know the goal ahead of time and so I think it will be beneficial for my students to know the objectives before they learn the material. The next important part of teaching is to “recall the students’ prior knowledge.” First of all this helps the students to start thinking about the topic so they are ready to learn more. Secondly, this will help me as a teacher to identify how much my students already know. Much of what teachers do is build onto the knowledge their students already have. Thus by recalling their recalling their prior knowledge I can assess where they are and build up from there. The next part is just “presenting the material.” This is the actual lesson part of teaching. As I have previously stated I plan to present material in a variety of ways so that I can reach all of my learners. After presenting the material, I will “provide guided learning.” I will assist my students in learning the material. I plan to do this by providing visual guides, meaningful activities, etc. The next step in the “Nine Events of Instruction” is to “elicit performance.” This is when I will have my students practice what they have learned. Students need an opportunity to show not only their teacher, but themselves that can use the knowledge from the lesson. After they practice what they have learned, I will “provide feedback.” This will be done even as they are practicing. As their teacher I will be circulating around the room giving advice and helping my students. Once the students have had an opportunity to practice and have been given feedback, I will “assess their performance” and provide even more feedback. The final step in Gagne’s plan is to “enhance retention and transfer.” I believe it is important to use the information the students have learned more than one time. Often times a concept is taught and never referred back to again. If one does not use the knowledge they gained, they will lose it. I plan to have reviews about the material and include the material in other lessons so that my students will have more than one opportunity to practice what they have learned.

The ideas from these three theorists have helped me to develop a plan for my classroom. Of course, I will continue to learn more about educational research and use theories from other researchers in the future. I believe Gardner, Bandura, and Gagne have provided me with a good starting point.


Student Seating Arrangement
The usual arrangement of student desks is in groups or pods and many people believe this is the best layout for student seating. In my own experience I find this setup to not be effective. I plan to have my students in rows with all desks facing the front of the classroom. They will be arranged in pairs, so two desks will be next to each other in rows. The best situation would be for the pairs to be made of one girl and one boy. I find that at the elementary age when children are seated next to the opposite sex, less talking occurs. The reason I want my students arranged in this form is because I feel that it keeps students on task. They are facing the teacher when he/she is talking so they are more likely to pay attention. In addition, it prevents too much socializing while instruction is taking place. However, since I plan on having many lessons that involve group work I want to make sure the desks can easily be turned around to form a group of four students in a pod. I also plan to rotate the students around the classroom so that they are not always sitting in the same place or sitting with the same people.

My classroom will be visually stimulating, but not over stimulating. I have gone into many classrooms and there are so many things on the walls, ceilings, tables, etc. that I cannot focus because my eyes are constantly roaming the room. I find this to be distracting to students and I would like to have the least amount of distractions as possible. Therefore I plan to have to have decorations on my walls, but there will not be a lot and they will be relevant to what my students are currently learning. Thus I will be periodically changing the decorations. I also plan to display student work at all times. I want my students to feel proud about the work they do and so I want to show-off to the other students and anyone who visits my classroom the work that my students have completed. One of my goals is for my students to feel some ownership in our classroom. I do not want my classroom to just be a place where students spend seven hours of their day in; I want it be a kind of home away from home. So I plan on having my students help me decorate and design our classroom.


I believe it is important to have rules established for successful classroom management. I want my students to take part in creating the rules for our classroom. This will be done on the first day of class. Students will give suggestions for rules and together the students and teacher will narrow down the list to five rules. I already have in mind rules I want for my classroom so I will help direct the students in suggesting the rules I already want; however if the students believe they created the rules for the classroom they will be more likely to follow these rules and it will increase the sense of community I hope to establish in our class. After we create the rules together, they will be written on a piece of poster board and every student will sign it. This will be our contract together and will be posted on the wall so they can always see it.

If any of the rules are broken there will be consequences. The system I have set up is one I feel will be effective and non-disruptive to the class. While I am teaching, if someone is breaking a rule or misbehaving I will simply go over to them and place a post-it on top of their desk. This is their warning. If they misbehave again I will go and write a check mark on the post-it. This means they will have to see me after class and will be given homework. Finally if that student is acting inappropriately again, I will write a second checkmark on the post-it. This means not only will they have to see me after class and be given homework, they will also have to eat lunch with me and talk more about this issue. I find this post-it system to work really well, because I can continue teaching while I am “warning” the student. It is not disruptive my lesson or the other students.

Procedures and Routines
Procedures and routines are the most important part of a classroom management plan. They help keep the students organized and working. This is what is important for a successful classroom. For this reason I have created procedures and routines for everything. I have included in this plan five of the most important procedures and routines I plan to use in my classroom.

First Thing in the Morning: As the students are coming into the classroom I will be seated at the door to greet every student with a “hello, how are you?” and a handshake. I believe this is very beneficial. It allows me to see what kind of mood each of my students are in, so I know what to expect for the day. It also helps form a stronger and friendlier relationship between teacher and students.

Turning in Homework: After the students enter the classroom in the morning they are to go to their desks, unpack their bags, and find their homework from the previous night. They will then turn it into the homework tray. By having the students unpack and get the homework at their desks, it cuts down on having the homework tray area overcrowded with books and bags. All homework must be turned in before the morning bell rings. If the homework is not turned in, it will be considered late and the student will receive a consequence such as losing five minutes of recess time.

Morning Work: Once a student has turned in their homework, they are to return to their desk. One the board will be the morning work. This will vary from practice math problems from the previous day’s lesson to correcting the spelling and grammar of a sentence. This morning work is designed to prepare the students for the day’s lesson by getting them to sit down at their desks, be quiet, and get into a study mode. The morning work is also a time saver, because during this time I can take attendance instead of wasting five or ten minutes later to do a roll call.

Group Work: The students will be involved in many group activities and so I designed some procedures for group work. Students will work in the same group for two weeks at a time. After the two weeks, students will be assigned to different groups. This ensures that all of the students get an opportunity to work with everyone and will help our classroom community grow closer. Another procedure for group work is the assignment of roles. Everyone in a group will have a specific duty in that group. The jobs will include secretary, materials collector, representative, etc. These roles will vary depending on the subject and the activity. I think assigning specific jobs to students in a group makes everything go much more smoothly. Students will not be arguing about who gets to do what and it ensures the assignment will get done because everyone knows what they are doing.

After Students are Finished: Some students work faster than others and because of this I felt it is important to have a procedure for when students finish their work. After a student has completed their assignment and others are still working, they will go place their assignment in the designated place (which will usually be the homework tray) and then return to their seat. They then have the option to work on other work or read silently at their desks. This procedure ensures that those who finish early are not disruptive to those who are still working. It is also beneficial to me as the teacher because I don’t have to hear “I’m finished” twenty or thirty times and it allows me to easily see who is still working.

Each of these procedures was created after I noticed an issue in a classroom and I felt as though it needed to be managed. They are designed to prevent problems from occurring. I believe these procedures and routines will help my classroom to be well managed and help my students to be productive and successful.

D.Implementation and Effectiveness

Unfortunately I was unable to implement many parts of my classroom management plan because I did not have my own classroom during my student teaching in Korea. One strategy I have been able to use includes designing and implementing my lessons as I would want to in my own classroom. I plan activities that meet the needs of diverse learners. This includes kinesthetic, fine art, visual, auditory, and other types of activities. I also am very encouraging to my students just as I planned from Bandura’s self-efficacy ideas. I consistently give praise and reassure my students of their capabilities. Both of these have been very beneficial. From looking at their assessments, I can see my students are successful in learning the material. I have also noticed since the first day of class, the students’ level of self-efficacy has increased. This is especially true when they speak English or raise their hands to answer questions. In the beginning only a handful of students from each class would raise their hands to answer questions because they were either unsure of their responses or uncomfortable speaking English. Now almost the entire class will raise their hands and be eager to answer any question.

Another part of my classroom management plan that I use is my method for behavior control. It involves the use of post-its being placed on students’ desks when they are behaving inappropriately. The first post-it is a warning and if they break the rules again they receive a check mark on the post-it and have to talk to me after class and will receive extra homework. If the student acts inappropriately once again they receive the second check mark and will not only has to see me after class and complete extra homework, they will also have to eat lunch with me and discuss their behavior more. This system has worked out wonderfully. I have given some extra homework to a couple misbehaving students, but I have not had to make them eat lunch and talk with me. Usually if someone is misbehaving, I simply have to pick up the post-its and start walking to his or her desk and the student immediately self corrects themselves. I feel this system is very successful.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Update...The Teaching Has Started and I'm a Celebrity!

Since I started teaching everything is going so great. For the first three weeks I have been teaching math lessons. They have gone really well. The students really seem to enjoy my classes. They are all really involved and everyone participates. I am very impressed with their English abilities. I have just learned to speak very slowly and loud. I also work hard to use more simple words (not all the time but for the most part) and a lot of hand gestures. Plus, I always have the homeroom teacher there to help translate for the students who don’t understand. However, I often feel like the teachers underestimate the students’ English abilities. I can see many times the students are frustrated when they have to listen to the same thing I just said in Korean. They are just eager to start the activities.

I love the teaching and find myself always busy with preparing lessons and grading assignments and such, but I do have one complaint. I am not being given good direction in what to teach. For example, during my second week I was teaching multiplication and division. The instruction I was given about what kind of lesson to prepare was, “Just teach two lessons: one on multiplication and division.” That’s it. I asked for more specifics such as should I teach how to multiply two or three digit numbers or should I work on times tables or anything. Just saying that I should teach multiplication and division is so vague and I tried hard to get more specifics, but was unsuccessful with getting a useful response. I talked to Professor Kang about this issue and she spoke with the teacher, so hopefully now I will be getting more detailed instructions on what to teach.

The students in all the classes have for the most part been really well-behaved. The only issue that I have is that they are very talkative and can become quite loud. From my observations of the Korean classes, this doesn’t seem to bother the teachers, so they have never been conditioned to be quiet. I have imposed a discipline plan with them to control this issue. If someone is being loud or disruptive or just not doing what they are suppose to be doing I will come and place a post-it on their desk. I do this silently so that I do not disrupt the rest of the class. This is their warning. If they do it again I will come by and write a checkmark on the post-it and this is their final warning. The next time they misbehave I put a second check mark and they have to see me after class and will be given homework. This system has worked out wonderfully. Usually all I have to do is hold up the post-its and the class quickly starts behaving properly.

Although I love the teaching part of this experience, it has become quite exhausting. I have 9 classes that I have to teach the content subjects (which has been math but will be science next week). So on one day I will have 5 periods of teaching the content and the next day I will have 4 and this continue to alternate every day. Unfortunately by the time I have taught the same lesson 9 times, I grow to hate it. It’s good because I get the lesson down to a T and fix any mistakes and kind of know what to expect from the students, but it is quite redundant. I like to think that I am just getting a lot of practice. In addition to my content classes I also teach an English conversation class, I co-teach a phonics class twice a week, and then I also co-teach drama twice a week. Then in addition to all my teaching I have two meetings each week that are about 2 to 3 hours long apiece. Then on Monday nights I have to go straight from school to our private Korean tutoring for two hours. I love the tutoring though, I really want to learn some Korean while I’m here and this is really helping me. On Thursdays I leave straight from school and go to the two hour weekly meeting with Professor Kang. Here we just discuss our weeks and talk about issues. One thing that we’ve done is that we opened this meeting to all students from Korea University’s education department. So we get anywhere from 10 to 20 students who attend this meeting and we get to discuss various educational topics. Quite honestly it’s my favorite part of the week. So my weeks are pretty busy and packed full of stuff. I am finding myself very exhausted come Friday, so I use the weekend to recuperate.

I am so thankful that the teaching is going great, but I am even happier that I am having a blast here in Korea. I am making so many friends and I keep adding new ones every day. For the first month I just hung out with people from our dorm. So I made friends from all over the world, but I noticed that I haven’t been meeting too many Koreans. This was disappointing because I want to get a good experience of Korean culture. So for the past week or so I have basically hung out with only Koreans. It is so much fun, but a little awkward because for the most part they don’t speak any English, so for hours I just sit around with them listening to Korean. It’s great!!! They are so warm and welcoming and friendly. One thing I find funny is they call me a “celebrity” at our local hangout, because every time I go there I just sit with a different group of Korean strangers who quickly become my friends and they all want to take pictures with me. So I am popping up in so many photos that people know me and I have no idea who they are. It’s kind of weird but I have to admit I love it J !

Since we are all so busy here with teaching and preparing teaching stuff and working on our portfolios we haven’t had much time to do any touristy things. So Stephanie and I have decide to stay an extra two weeks and really explore Korea; I am very excited about this. Since last week we have decide we will try to do at least one touristy thing either on Saturday or Sunday every week. So last week Stephanie and I went to the Seoul Tower. It was definitely a huge hike!!!! It took over an hour to walk all the way up to it. There were soooooo many stairs that my legs have been aching all week. But it was worth it. One thing that was disappointing was once you get up to the top of tower you can look out the windows and see all of Seoul, but that day was so hazy that it wasn’t a great view. After visiting the tower we debated on walking back down the “mountain” and decided to take the cable car which got us there in under 5 minutes.

That's the update on my situation here! I will be trying to post more often from now on...

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Beginning of My Korea Adventure

I have been in Korea for a few weeks now and I have experienced so much. Living at the CJ International House has been wonderful. I have been able to meet people from all over the world and have made many new friends. It has been quite amazing learning about other people’s cultures and learning some common words from their many languages. The area that we are staying in is great too. There are many restaurants, pubs, cafes, and a few shopping areas. I have had something fun and exciting to do every day.

In the next couple weeks I hope to venture more outside of Anam (the city where I am living) and see some historical sites in Korea. I would like to visit all of the palaces and temples. There are also many mountains you can travel to as well. Another thing I hope to do is attend a Buddhist ceremony. One of my friends said that one Buddhist temples has a special ceremony on Sundays for foreigners. They teach you about their religion and show you how they perform their ceremonies. They also teach you how to do some of the meditation that the Buddhist monks perform. Apparently they have you meditate and doing breathing exercises for almost two hours. That part doesn’t sound like too much fun, but I think it is worth experiencing.
The one thing I didn’t expect and was upset about at first, but am now appreciating is the amount of walking we have to do. Our dormitory is up a steep hill that is about 1km long. In order to go anywhere you have to go down it and then to return you have to come up (which is the worst part). The first couple of days the hill and the rest of the walking was killing me. I was so tired and frustrated, but now I don’t even notice it. I will have to confess that sometimes if I am returning to the dorms late at night and I’m exhausted I take a taxi up the hill. It’s relatively inexpensive, about 2 dollars, but it makes me feel a little lazy. Oh well, it’s definitely worth it.

Aside from having a great time here, I am having an interesting time at the elementary school. I am currently in the second week of observation and it has been quite an experience. For the first week we observed four classes a day. That seems just fine, but the issue I had is that these classes were all taught in Korean! Now I know some “Survivor Korean,” but in no way did I understand a single word the teachers or the students were saying. So in my opinion the first week was definitely not very beneficial. I think watching perhaps two or three Korean classes would have been sufficient for me to see how the teacher teaches and how the students respond which is the knowledge I was hoping to gain from observing. Michael and I talked to our cooperating teacher about this problem and she managed to have us observe three English classes and one Korean class each day for the second week. So this week has definitely been more beneficial and meaningful to me. It has helped me to see the English speaking ability of the students and how they respond to what the teacher says. I have noticed that the English speaking abilities of the students is extremely varied. Some speak English wonderfully, while others when asked “How are you?” respond with “Hi!” I think I will definitely have my work cut out for me. One thing I find interesting is that those students who speak English well, are enrolled in afterschool private English tutoring. Parents here believe it is extremely important for their children to speak English since it is considered an international language and they are willing to spend a ridiculous amount of money on the tutoring.

The other big issue that I have with my student teaching is the schedule. We are supposed to be at the school from 8:40 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. every day. This would be just fine except for the fact that on Mondays and Wednesdays classes are over at noon and Tuesdays and Thursdays they are over at 2:00 p.m. So after the classes are over I have nothing to do. This was especially true these first two weeks because we had not been given the material we will be teaching. Thus I found myself reading magazines, surfing the internet, and just trying to pass the time. I have spent some time working on my portfolio, but the issue with that is first of all I feel so much more comfortable and am able to get more done in the study room at my dorm or even in my own room than I can in the teachers’ lounge and secondly I have a lot materials I am using to work on my portfolio and it is inconvenient to carry so much to and from the school. The school is about a 45 minute subway ride away from the dorm and then a total of 20 to 25 minutes of walking. It would be too much for me to try to bring everything I need to work on my portfolio. I feel I would get more accomplished working at home from noon/two to four-forty than I am getting at the elementary school. The teachers at this school use this time for lesson planning, but they are teaching a lot more than we will. We are teaching two lessons per week to eight different classes. So it is a total of teaching 16 times a week. However, since it is only two lessons per week, I know I will not need 15+ hours a week to create these two lessons. In addition this is something I would also feel more comfortable working on at my dorm. This is the biggest issue I have with the student teaching.

I know I may be complaining a bit but there is one more issue that I have. The cooperating teacher here wants to treat us as though we are real Korean teachers, which is wonderful, but this means she wants us to attend weekly faculty and grade level meetings. In America I would be more than happy to do this and I would enjoy that kind of experience, but here it is a different story. Both of these meetings which each last about two hours are entirely in Korean! This means for two hours twice a week I am sitting in a room full of people not understanding what is being said. I really wish we had a translator, because it would make these meetings very beneficial. But since we do not have a translator, these meetings have become a little like torture. I am not sure how I can resolve any of these concerns, but I would really love to so that this entire Korean teaching experience will be beneficial, exciting, and something I will remember fondly.

Aside from having a few issues/concerns with my teaching situation, I am finding this to be an interesting experience. I have noticed quite a few differences with Korean teachers/schools versus American teachers/schools. First of all in Korean schools all the students and teachers wear slippers. They do this for two reasons: 1. to keep the school cleaner, by having shoes you only wear inside and 2. for the teachers to be more comfortable while they are teaching. Another difference is that the students and teachers do a lot of work here. All teachers are responsible for cleaning their own rooms. This includes sweeping and mopping the floors. The students help out with this every day. They are always working hard. The students also take turns working as the “lunch ladies” (I couldn’t come up with a better term). They have to go and get the food from the cafeteria (the students and teachers eat lunch together in their classrooms) and then the students have to wear aprons and hats and serve their classmates their lunch. After they finish eating the students clean return the food carts to the cafeteria and help clean the dishes. Another difference I have noticed is that Korean teachers generally don’t assign homework. The only teachers whom I have seen give students homework are the foreign English teachers (they are from the U.S., U.K, Australia, and Ireland). In America there are special teachers for music, art, and physical education, but here in Korea the homeroom teachers are responsible for teaching those subjects too. The students here in Korea show their teachers a lot of respect. They always bow to their teachers and other faculty members when entering a room or passing them in the hallways. They also always stand up in class when they are responding to a question. In America all teachers are addressed as Ms. Smith or Mr. Thompson, but here students just call their teachers, “teacher”. They do not use names; however, they call the foreign teachers here including me by their first name followed by teacher. Thus I am called “Amanda teacher”. One thing that I do not like about the Korean school system is that all the schools are given textbooks and the teachers are to teach directly from the textbooks. If they have time, teachers are allowed to include their own lessons, but they usually don’t have extra time so most classes are spent reading from the textbook and lecturing. There are not many hands on activities or group work being used in these Korean classrooms.

Overall I am having a great time here in Korea. I will admit I am enjoying my time spent at the university much more than my time spent at the school. This is because of the issues I mentioned as well as the fact that our situation is pretty unorganized since we are the “guinea pigs” of this project and everyone is just kind of making things up as we go along. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks things will get better and we can get into more of a routine instead of just showing up and waiting for them to decide what we will be doing for the day. I also think it will be better once I actually start teaching instead of just observing. I am scheduled to start teaching next week and I can’t wait!