Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Warm fuzzies

Because this is how I'm currently feeling, take a listen to this short but sweet classic from The Muppets Take Manhattan: Together Again.

This is it people. Soon all the pals are in the same building again. It is going to be fun times, let me tell you. I'm not loving the whole-moving-before-and-after-work deal, but it's less stressful this time because of less stuff and knowing that it's the last time for a while. Also, it can be a lot of fun too.

I  realized that this past Saturday marked the end of 5 months here for me. I suppose it would be cooler and more impressive to make note of 6 months, but for me it's kind of big because it's officially the longest I've lived outside of the U.S. Study abroad at Oxford was just shy of 4 months, so I suppose I should be experiencing all kinds of new emotions and thoughts since now I'm into uncharted territory. 

I guess it's a little surprising then that I really haven't had any "batten down the hatches" moments. Maybe they're coming yet, but the only thing that seems different is that things don't feel as different. It just feels like living. Somehow that's more of a milestone for me anyway. To realize that slowly you've put down enough roots in a place that a mildly strong wind isn't going to knock you down. 

On the teaching side of things, I don't have anything much different from last week to report, but here's a little anecdote. I always tell my 6:30 class on Storybook days the number of different voices they need to have to encourage expressive reading. We're working through Thumbelina these days, so as usual, I gave them the lowdown:

Me: "Ok we're ready to read! remember, you need four different voices: Mouse voice, Thumbelina voice, Bird voice and reading voice ."

Grace: "'The Mole wants to marry you,' says the mouse. 'You need new clothes.'

Joochan: "The next day Thumbelina looks out....says the reading voice." 

Guess which part of that last sentence wasn't in the book. What a goober.

We finished moving for the final time this morning! It feels good to be finished with that, but I will say that though it makes for a pretty tiring day of teaching afterwards, so far I have very fond memories of moving because it feels good to work together, and usually hilarious things happen. Personal favorite from today was Yoonseo carrying the green couches to their final resting place on his head. Picture a giant green square with tiny little feet shuffling along towards the recycling pile. Also the fridge leaking a bunch of water as the guys loaded it on the lift, then Yongjin yelling "The baby is coming!"

But actually, the baby is coming. Seriously excited for little Aurie to arrive in the next couple weeks! Prayers appreciated for her safe arrival and for Karen and Jae and Lomie. Also lots of prayer for Sangmin, the CO from church. He called the police yesterday to inform them he was not going to obey his military service summons and so has started the process of going to jail instead. 

This place and these people give me some serious warm fuzzies.
Recently Achieved

* Finally finished The Brothers K. Please everyone and their mother read it. Best book I've read this year.

*Finished that scarf! And still unsure about the successfulness of that pattern. 

Recently Not Achieved:

* Hitting any baseballs properly at the batting cages. Apparently reading novels about baseball doesn't translate into any actual skills. Shucks.

Quotes from the Community

"Maybe the Omega 3 pills I am taking will give me an advantage!" --Anna's thoughts on No-Shave November: Legs Edition.

"One time I was going through my things and found a piece of my umbilical cord!" --Kaia

"Coji and antique-y."--Yoonseo's vision for the new apartment.

"Why do we have so many refrigerators?!"--Yongjin speaks what all of us are wondering.

Quotes from the Classroom

"Oh help!" says the big girl. The big boy flips her dress." --Joy's semi-sketchy homework sentence.

"My father is hairy because he is man."--Andrew's homework sentence.

"'Find something heavy.' Abby teacher?" --Cindy 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day by Day

Due to my title, wouldn't it be fitting to use 하루하루 as my blog music today? Too fitting, so I'm not doing it. Plus I already used it I think. So instead, try some nice Bollywood. From the film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), please enjoy Haule Haule. You can watch and learn the dance too, because why not? 

Yesterday was a good day in class, and the biggest reason it was good made me feel kind of sheepish. I decided that I was going to try to focus on making one of my classes really go well, make it a really positive experience for the students and try really hard to keep them engaged the whole time. So I went in with a "go-get-'em" positive attitude and the class was fantastic. So the good vibes from that class fed into the next, and then the next and then the next, till the entire day was feeling like a success. Key factor? me. 

It's a little hard to realize that the days that go badly could just be my perception because of a less than great attitude, or because I wasn't determined enough to make it work. Not that there won't be bad days even when I do it all right, but I can foresee that there would probably be a lot less of them if I did a "teacher-readiness check" before class. If I'm not engaged, my students won't be either. Learning day by day, right?

As for fun community stuff, yesterday we had our Thanksgiving meal! Talk about a spread. Chicken and vegetables, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked corn, japchae, cheon, copious amounts of breads, cakes and pies, salads...hokey dinah. I  was properly Thanksgiving full at the end. I may or may not have purposely wore a dress instead of pants to make room for food baby. There were around 40 people as guests including all of us Connexus and KOPI/NARPI staff. Past Connexus teachers, friends from church, family (real and host) and people we just met too. We had Pastor Kate from the Duke Center for Reconciliation, Anna's friend that she met at the subway station and a guy from Austria that Karen met, as well some of Anna and Sarah's teachers from Korean class. One of those times to meet new people and enjoy the old connections too. This is a good place, in the words of Anna Ruth. These are good people.

And if you get tired of it, you can always go into the teacher's office and play Candy Crush and drink tea for introvert time. ㅋㅋㅋ.

Community News

* Moving day for Heather, Michael, Yongjin, Yoonseo, and Sunghyun is October 29 or 30. Only a week before we're all together again! 

* We're doing a Thanksgiving party this year at Connexus instead of Halloween, which I am so pumped for. Gonna decorate the heck out of my classroom! Leaves and pumpkins and all kinds of Fall-y stuff.

Recently watched

* Season 1 finale of Downton. O'Brian is yet again a huge turd and War is upon us.

* Gravity. Saw in the 4-D theater yesterday, so it was probably doubly as intense as it would be usually. Besides being a nail-biter, it was a very rich film too. The film is about an accident in space, as far as plot goes, but that wasn't what it was really about. It had a lot of great symbolism and is one I would definitely like to see again sometime. Getting that paper writing itch....

Quotes from Community

"I beat level 64. Thank Jesus." --Heather

"That movie is a little bit sticky and steamy though." --Yoonseo's thoughts on Ghost (1990)

"Only hold?" --Lomestar Runner the techie toddler

"Help us to eat well and poop well."---Yoonseo's Thanksgiving prayer

"I can't dance very well because of this tuna." --Anna

"Some people have some really nice moles."--Heather

Quotes from the Classroom

"Sarah fase is very terrible. This is lie."--One of Sarah's student's homework sentences.

"Is the Beast very angry, ugly father?" --Heather's student's reinterpretation of Beauty's opinion of her father's appearance. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grammar Day!

Today's music is ABBA again, a song that just won't get out of my head. And we're going to listen to the Mamma Mia version because Colin Firth's voice is so delightfully nasal: Last Summer.

What's up, chicken butt? (Natalie, that's for you!)

I keep thinking that I am writing on this blog often, but I've been kind of sporadic lately. Sorry to all my devoted readers chomping at the bit. Ha!

Today is my grammar day, so other than my first class, which is Phonics, the Korean teacher gives a grammar lesson in Korean to the rest of my students, so I get to be a little lazy. Awesome!

This week has been a pretty normal teaching week...made some progress, took too long in conversation, taught a nice collection of words including "walnut shell" and "mountain tick"...you know, the usual. 

I feel like I am beginning to have a good idea about my students learning styles and needs. I know that Yoobin is better when she is up and doing something and that erasers distract her, and that Yoochan needs to point to words when he reads. I know that Cindy needs a little more time to think because she's quiet, and Jerry needs more time because he talks too quickly and makes mistakes. I know that Seokhee thrive with praise, and so do the Blue 4 girls. 

Maybe it's because I never had a chance to study education, but I guess I never realized that though a big part of teaching is delivering information to learners, it's also just as much about you learning. Learning to know when a head on the table means your student is tired and when it means they are sad, when the squint of an eye means they're upset and when it means they're thinking. Learning to look at your methods and say 'well that didn't work!' and being able to change them. It's tough, but it sure makes the day interesting! 

All you teachers out there, what is one valuable thing you've learned? I want your knowledge!

Community News:
* Canadian-American combo Thanksgiving Dinner this Sunday! (Sadly, it's not Dancegiving...Come on babies!) I am in charge of the mashed potatoes, which I will make after I get back from...

* TOPIK test on Sunday for me and Sarah! My test is in the morning, so I am skipping church. I am expecting to pass level 1 but am secretly hoping to get level 2 (whoops not a secret now). Tonight we're taking half of a practice test... I'm hoping to get better at the grammar and writing section ...

* We've started Downtown Abbey. Hold on to your hats and loosen those corsets, kiddos. We're in for an emotional ride, so I've been told.

* Michael's parents arrived today to visit for two weeks! Always nice to have more Canadians around.  

Recent achievements

* Finished the TOPIK Beginner Level flash card set on Memrise...in theory I know 866 words! in reality probably not even close to that. 

*  Finished half of the first scarf of the season! I tried a little basket weave looking pattern which may be weird for a scarf. I haven't made up my mind about how I feel about it.

Quotes from the Community:

"I sometimes think that I would die painfully because of ramen."--Yoonseo

Heather:  "Michael's parents are coming today!"
Juhee: "Oh dear...... no, I mean, Oh how happy!"

Heather: "Michael's dad has a mustache."
Yoonseo: "Good. I have a razor."

Abby: "My knee hurts suddenly."
Sarah: "Is the pain acute?
Anna: "Is it obtuse?"

Recently heard in the classroom

Joy: "Which do you like better, surgery or vultures?"
Hyesu: "I don't like either."

"Teacher your hair is so pretty! Cut and give me."--Susan the cute-but-also-sometimes-creepy-by-accident student.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happy Hangul Day!

Today's music is some Eric Whitacre, because who can ever get enough of that guy. I listened to a piece of his called October the other day, and then found this piece, which seems to be the same theme but arranged in a choral piece. There is only one lyric: Alleluia. Sometimes there is too much thankfulness in me to say anything else, so here's a song of worship for when your heart is full: Alleluia.

It's Hangul Day here, a day celebrating the incredibly awesome and logical Korean alphabet. Thank you King Sejong for being such a cool monarch. As I saw written so wisely somewhere on the internet, somewhere he and Sequoia are giving each other high fives. Linguistics Hall of Famers. If you feel bored, teach yourself the alphabet...might take you 3 hours tops to have it down pat? It's that good.

Last week we went on a staff retreat in Pocheon, spent some time together playing games and learning some more about restorative justice practices. One of my favorites was the game where we split into teams and picked animals for the people in that group that accurately represented us, then traded lists and tried to guess which animal went with which person. Some of them were more fitting than others, but here's our list:
Me: Swan             Karen: Sheep  
Yoonseo: Hyena     Sarah: Llama
Heather: Dolphin    Kate: Hummingbird
Juhee: Black Bear   Michael: Meerkat
Sunghyun: Sloth    Anna: Goat
Yongjin: Deer        Kaia: Koala
Minji: Hamster       Jae: Hanwoo (Korean Beef Cow)

Personally, I'm not fully on board with swan for myself. Maybe goose is more fitting. Anyway, it was an awesome time of fellowship, hanging out, playing some early morning badminton, listening the Vince Guaraldi trio while drinking Cass beer and Rooibos tea etc. The teachers also heard a little more about what our KOPI staff are doing with their lectures and workshops about restorative justice, which is a totally fascinating field that maybe I'll make a quick little post about sometime after I do more reading on it.

These days I have been feeling so blessed by this community that I get to work and live with. Basically all of them are awesome all the time, so it's hard to express it, but here's some concrete examples for you:
My computer recently bit the dust, which is a really huge bummer, because it would probably take me a few months to save up even for a little rinky-dink netbook, so I was trying to figure out what to do, when Yongjin said he had an old macbook that has a bad battery, but can be used if it is plugged in that he could lend me. I was actually starting to feel really stressed about the situation that day, and it took a lot of weight off my shoulders. Thanks Yongjin!

Two days ago I had a terrible sneezing cold/pressure sinus thing that made me feel like I simultaneously had been punched in the eye and had cotton in my head and a nose like a faucet. It was especially bad in the evening, and I was planning to just take some benadryl and go to bed without dinner, but Kaia came to the rescue and made me dinner in bed and chamomile tea. I was able to fall asleep early feeling all warm in my tum and woke up the next morning feeling so much better. Thanks Kaia!

Community News:
* Today is also Karen's birthday and baby shower day! I am making pumpkin soup again yippeeeee!
* All of us teachers and Kaia just ran in a 5k in Chuncheon to raise money for Justice or North Korea, which focuses on helping North Korean refugees. It was an awesome day. We met up with Eunhye, Yoonseo's school friend who lives in Chuncheon and all ran together and then went out for dalkkalbi after.
* TOPIK exam in just 12 days for me and Sarah. Yikes!
* Michael, Heather, Kate, Anna and I are going to start doing language exchange with a guy who is interning for KOPI, Dongwook. He's teaching us Korean and we're going to take turns teaching him English. I'm super pumped to get some more practice with conversation.

Recently Watched:
* Return To Me (2000). Because we can't get enough rom-com in this place.
* Last episode of Sherlock, the Reichenbach Fall. Holy crap. I'm late to the party but...SHERLOCK HOW?!
* Next Up: Downtown Abbey.

Recent Quotes:
* "Always pursue the greatness of sky-shaping...I'm a poet."--Man at the subway keen to practice his English
* "Are you guys home yet? Settlers."--Heather the recent game-a-holic.

In the classroom:
* "My mom is very old." Jiwon's spelling test sample sentence.
* " The Hen has a bread store and makes a lot of money." (accompanied by picture of a Tous Les Jours store) --Dongwon's ending to the Little Red Hen story.