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Our School March 15, 2009

Posted by jorkat in Seoul.


Our school occupies the entire 6-storey building pictured above. Our bank is on the ground floor and there’s a driving range in the basement. The school’s website was a little misleading when it mentioned that there was a driving range on the premises. I was led to believe that it was part of the school’s facilities, and that I would have free access to it. Turns out this isn’t the case and I’m not the first teacher to have had this impression. The driving range is separate and you need a membership to use it. I don’t know what this means yet but I will be inquiring soon. Stay tuned.

We live less than a 5-minute walk from school and our first class doesn’t start until 9:50am, so I usually roll out of bed at 8:30am and still make it to school by 9:15am at the latest. Katie and I have the same schedule, just different classes. We basically teach the same age groups, with her youngest kids being a little older than mine. Our day ends at 4:20pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and at 6:50pm on Tuesday and Thursday (we have a break between 2:20-4:50 on those days though). Each teacher is assigned a partner teacher with one handling language arts and the other responsible for math, science and social studies. Thanks to our impressive backgrounds in these fields, Katie and I were selected to handle math, science and social studies. Katie is a sociology major whereas I did psychology and neither of us took a science course in university or did anything more than the pre-requisites in high school. After Grade 11 Chemistry I decided that I never wanted to take another science course again. That being said, it’s not like we’re teaching the theory of relativity or memorizing the table of elements. My first science class involved teaching what to do if their house catches fire and how to stop, drop and roll. We also did a science experiment and hooked up a lightbulb to a battery. It was awe-inspiring.

Despite receiving very little training and basically being handed the books and told to figure it out, the school is great because as long as you use the teaching materials, you have lots of freedom to teach how you want. As long as the children parents are happy, you’re doing a good job. We both have 5 different classes in total. 2 of them are kindergarten which we have every morning and range in age from 4-7 years old. The other 3 classes consist of 10-14 year olds and only come in the afternoon. I like having a mix of both age groups as both provide their unique challenges…and entertainment. Overall I’d say the children are very well behaved and respectful but the the language barrier and their immaturity poses some problems with a few of the younger ones. Some of the teenagers are lazier and less motivated than expected but it’s the luck of the draw. I have a class of 12-13 year olds that I love. They listen to everything I say and we spend a lot of time just talking about their lives and mine. We played a game the other day called “Name Jordan’s Top 10 favourite sports”. It was exhilarating.

Every teacher is also assigned a home room where we meet our class first thing every morning and are responsible for decorating and keeping in order. Each classroom has a theme and all the kindergarten classes are based on Disney movies. Well you’re never going to believe what class I was assigned to…yup, the Little Mermaid. Now, not all of you may know this but some of you surely do, but while I was growing up, one movie above all was played repeatedly by my little sister Chelsea –  yup, The Little Mermaid. I will concede that I did enjoy it and that it remains my favourite Disney movie to date. As a result I may or may not know the lyrics to every song in the movie and I may have recorded a video of me singing one of these songs while intoxicated and posted it on YouTube. Don’t bother looking for it as it’s set for private viewing. Anyway, I can’t describe the feeling I had when I walked into the classroom and looked up at the huge mural on the wall. It was a combination of unabashed excitement and shame. Mostly excitement though. I also have a girl in my class named Ariel. If only I could find a crab with a Jamaican accent I would be set.

Here’s a picture of my home room class…


and my support class…


Now as I mentioned to some of you before leaving, a lot of Korean children who go to english school will adopt an english name. In some cases when a child doesn’t have a name yet, the teacher has input into what name to select.  I was pretty excited to name an entire class after the starting lineup of the 2004 Red Sox but unfortunately, all of my children have taken english classes before and have all been assigned or selected their own english names. I did have one student who couldn’t remember his name on the first day so I called him Tom (an homage to Mr. Brady), but his mother wrote me a note explaining that his name was in fact, Nathan (the same name as my nephew).

We have many funny stories about our children so far and it’s only been a week and half with them. Although I don’t think it would be appropriate to tell some of them here in case someone from the school or a parent ever came across this blog, so I’ll just share a couple quick highlights.

On my first day, I had one of the children pictured above punch another child right between the eyes and sent him falling flat on his back. It was incredible. The problem was that the child who got punched had instigated the altercation by pushing the kid in a dispute over a toy. I immediately intervened and gave them both 10-minute misconducts with an extra 2 minutes for roughing and 2 minutes for unsportmanlike conduct respectively. It was tough but fair and there have been no such incidents since then.

On friday the school received a call from an angry mother because her son had wet himself on the bus ride home because his teacher had not let him go to the bathroom near the end of class. Turns out that teacher was me and the child had in fact asked to me to go a few times. Here’s the thing. These kids can’t speak much english and one of the only things they do know is to ask  to go to the washroom. So when one kid says it, they ALL say it either because they want to make the teacher happy by speaking english OR they genuinely have to go. So towards the end of class I had one kid ask and of course they all asked. I told the first kid he could go but refused all the other requests as there was only 10 minutes of class left. Turns out 4-6 year olds have very small bladders and this kid just couldn’t make it. Poor little guy. The best and most ironic part of the story is that our phrase of the day just happened to be “May I please go to the bathroom?”


1. Kasia Fink - March 16, 2009

Jordan, the memory of our singing Part of Your World together in your kitchen is what keeps the fire alight in my heart for you as you toil away refusing little kids pee-pee time on the other side of the world. *sigh*

2. Kelly - March 16, 2009

Oh What a Mean Teacher. Not letting the child go Pee Pee Come on Really

They are all so cute I especially like the one with the tie!!!!!!!!!!!

Have fun teach !!!!!1

Love Aunt Kelly

3. Brigitte - March 16, 2009

Great post!

4. Katie - March 16, 2009

So cute Jordan…I love it! Not letting a 5 year old use the washroom….that’s NOTHING! Let’s hope you don’t have any wee Jordan’s in your class who don’t always know where the appropriate place to go to the washroom is!!!!!!!!!!!

5. Sean - March 18, 2009

Wow those are some cute kids. See if you can name one of them ‘Milhouse’.

6. Dyson - March 19, 2009

You neglected to mention what the kids in the altercation thought of the instigator rule.

7. Erin - March 23, 2009

more like Thrillhouse…

8. Matty - March 23, 2009


9. danner - March 24, 2009

This is so awesome! I’m still trying to catch up on all the posts. The kiddies are cute and they smile funny.

As I’m sick at home with the flu (kinda reminds me of your yellow sand storm effects) I look forward to reading them all !
Miss you both

10. Danielle - March 27, 2009

I would love to be a fly on the wall while your teaching Jordan! Love the time out your ,so mean! To bad you don’t have a penalty box to put them in! What a cute looking group of kids, still puzzled on the whole age thing, so how old does that make you now?

11. fink - April 8, 2009

i hope you peed your pants too to make the kid feel better!

12. Big News. « 2009: An Asian Odyssey - May 27, 2009

[…] already had an English name, and that my services would not be required. As I had written in a previous post, I had so many different ideas for names that I was hoping to implement and now they were all going […]

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