Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome To My School

I'm posting this from work. Normally this wouldn't be an acceptable use of my time but today the high school students are taking some kind of standardized test so I've been told I can sleep on my desk all day if I want. This is good news, as I went out drinking last night with some Korean co-teachers and was introduced to the wonders of so-me, a mix of soju and beer. I actually have to teach two middle school classes today but they're so much fun that shouldn't be a problem.

Anyway, let's take a tour of my school, Hamchang Middle and High School.

This is the main entrance. The school sits on top of a hill so the gate is down on the street, but this is the main building.

Here's the foyer. To the right are the administration office and the principal's office. I rarely see him, he's usually doing principal things in this office. I surmise, I really don't know what he does.

To the left is a hallway leading to the small library and the English Only Zone. The latter is a special English classroom that I occasionally teach in. In other schools, the EOZ is the permanent classroom for the native English teacher but here it isn't utilized all that much.

There's also an extra classroom that I don't think ever gets used. I took a picture because it'll give you an idea of what a typical classroom looks like here.

Here's a shot of the new gym, which is currently under construction. I have no idea when it will be completed. I didn't even know that I wouldn't be teaching any high school classes today until 8pm last night. Welcome to Korea.

This is the teachers' shoe cubby at the top of the stairs on the third floor. Everyone, students and teachers alike, changes into slippers when they arrive for school. You only take them off if you step onto dirt or leave the school. The students' cubbies are in their classrooms, as are their lockers. Unlike in America, where teachers stay put and students come to them, here it's the other way around. Students stay with the same group all day and the teachers go to them. So it makes sense for their lockers to be inside the room.

This is a student lounge area, located just to the right of the above teacher shoe cubby. Students do occasionally lounge here but usually they're so tired from studying a more apt name would be the student coma area.

This is the third-floor teacher's room. Usually there's at least one teacher in here. I'm not sure why it was so empty on this day.

Here's my desk. Instantly recognizable by the alien Apple computer. Korea has to be the least Mac OS-friendly country ever. If it's not a PC it's just baffling to most people here. (The students, however, ooh and ahh over my Mac. There's hope for this country yet.)

A shot of a third-floor hall. Shoe cubbies can also be outside a classroom.

The view from the stairwell.

From the roof looking south. Those train tracks will take you all the way to Pusan, Korea's second biggest city.

On the fourth-floor roof. It amazes me that this area is open to students, as is the fifth-floor roof (with the blue awning). In my day any dangers, such as that exposed rebar or the precipitous drop, would have been exploited by the students for maximum bullying potential.

Looking down from the fourth-floor roof at the music building (on the left) and the science building. The school cafeteria is on the first floor of the science building.

The school cafeteria in full swing. It's not all that big so they control the flow of students by grade. These are middle school students. And yes, there are two large HD TVs in here. It is Korea, after all.

A middle school class before the bell rings. They're remarkably well-behaved when I'm in the room. I can walk in to pandemonium, with kids in all sorts of gravity- and pain-defying positions, but as soon as they see me they sit down and get ready for class.

So there you go. Maybe next time I'll give you a tour of the town where I live.

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