So the hardest month yet has come and gone in what seems to have been a flash, and thank goodness for that. The month of March was filled with challenges I did not think I'd face teaching in Korea, but I suppose the best things in life cannot be planned or predicted, only worked for.
March 1st marks the start of the new school year in Asia, so we all got a new round of kids. However, I am the preschool teacher, and I had no idea that this year, my 'kids' were going to be babies. They were all born in 2006, so in Canadian age, they're 3 turning 4, depending on their birthday. Take a minute to digest that. Three years old. Whoa.
If I could just hang out and teach them in a comfortable setting, with your classic snack time / nap time / play time, this would be a really great gig, but our school has a strong curriculum in place for these guys, with books for every subject, and a rigid rule that they must sit and listen for a large part of the day. I realized from my Korean teacher that more than half the kids don't even speak Korean yet. They have never been away from their moms. I saw one kid crawling at one point. They refuse to keep their socks on. And on the first day, someone number one'd and number two'ed in his pants.
On top of this, my preschool kids are only half my day. From 10-2:30, after somehow getting these 3 year olds to sit and do Phonics books, after all my energy has come and gone, I continue from 3-7:30 teaching elementary students reading, writing, and grammar. My usual optimistic attitude took a meteor sized hit that I could survive a year of this.
However, the word on the street is that 'this too shall pass', and in a way, it already has. In one month, I have already come so far with my kids, it's hard to believe. It is still constantly demanding, but I can now get them to sit, pay attention, and they're really learning English! They can hold pencils and cut and glue! They respond to my discipline now and have already adapted (what I feel are) beautiful classroom routines. And for 40 minutes a week, I manage to keep ten 3 year olds in a gym full of toys, totally distracted, sitting perfectly, all eyes on me.
It sounds silly, but it is my first big career accomplishment and I'm proud of myself. I know a life of teaching is going to be filled with them, but I am happy to know that when it ain't so easy in the classroom, I can cut it.
The light at the end of the tunnel has given me a killer tan.