Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Semester

Today is one of my periodic desk-warming days. I don't have any classes to teach (they're giving mock college entrance exams all day) but I still have to come to school, so I'm just wearing a groove in my chair and looking for things to do on the computer. I brought the book I'm currently working through, "The Museum of Innocence," but despite a strong start I'm having trouble with the long, slow middle part. I'm even contemplating giving up on it but I don't have another book waiting in the wings. Let's see, today I've already looked over the lessons for next week, gone to the school store for an orange juice, drank honey water with some other teachers in my office, ordered some books from What the Book? to replace the one I'm tired of, and even updated my bookmarks in Firefox.

Hence the blog post.

It's a new semester here at Hamchang Middle and High School. I made it through the first week with no real problems to speak of. This is a far cry from my first week last semester, which involved technical difficulties, student difficulties and general difficulties related to working again after years of being in school. Now I have all around Teacher Confidence. I can navigate my way around the in-class video and audio systems, I can effectively teach, control and entertain students of all ages, and no longer get tired after a day of teaching. I do have a cold, but that's to be expected as I get one pretty much every month.

My schedule this semester is a bit different from last semester. I'm not teaching the third-year high school students at all. The first-year high school students are not broken up by ability this year, and to fill out my schedule I'm teaching each of the four first-year classes twice a week. I don't really mind as I like this group of students. I had a number of them over the break in my "winter camp" so I already know some of them as well. The other big change this semester is I'm teaching two teacher classes. Twice a week I'm teaching English conversation to any teacher that wants to learn to speak English. I've had one class already and am really looking forward to working with people who want to learn, rather than have to learn. I'm also going to be teaching evening and Saturday classes for overtime. It's going to be physically demanding, with long hours doing the week and the loss of every other Saturday, but the money will be good, and I think the added time with students and other teachers will be good for my own feeling of belonging, something I struggle with.

Overall, I'm feeling really good about this semester. I've been given a little more autonomy, now that I have some experience, and with all of the new teachers that arrived this term I'm not the newbie anymore. Some of the new, young teachers even defer to me as a senior, which goes a long way in reinforcing in myself a sense a confidence. I don't feel like the useless foreigner in the corner anymore. I feel like the useful foreigner in the corner.

And you know what? I may just sign up for a second year after all.


  1. glad you're enjoying your new year. i was almost certain i would extend my contract at my school, but now that everything's changed with the new year (a new VP, a new eng dept head, two new english teachers, one of whom is very difficult to work with, rude and snotty 1st years, and a difficult financial situation at the school), i hate the place. the new school year is making me hate my job, and that makes me terribly upset. also, the 2nd years this year are worse than last year's, so i might not get very many volunteers for pen pal-ing (there's no way i can make it mandatory, cos too many of them can't even form sentences).

  2. Sorry to hear your situation has deteriorated. Think you'll transfer to another school?

  3. oh yeah, i'm gonna do everything in my power to move to a different (and hopefully better) school.