Hello Readers! Here is something new! My friend and I have both gotten our feet wet in the teaching field, but in rather different capacities. I have taught all subjects in elementary school for 2nd grade and 4th grade. My friend is super adventerous and spent a year in Korea teaching English as a Second Language. We thought it’d be cool to share and compare our experiences. Here ya go!
1. Why did you want to teach?
K: I’ve wanted to teach since I was a child, but I never knew what I wanted to teach. I worked as a teacher’s assistant for two years during college, and it was great. Then, when I discovered I could teach English as a second language in South Korea, I took the first opportunity that came along.
A: I have always loved being around kids I enjoy them more than anything. I also am a nerd, I love to learn and even teaching elementary school where you think you know everything you don’t.
2.What was the best part of teaching?
K: Sharing my interests and knowledge with my students. It sounds so cliche. One of my favorite parts about teaching in Korea was breaking down current events and world history to my older students who were just as interested in those topics as I was.
A: Being a part of the children’s lives and knowing you have an influence, Being responsible for nearly as many hours as their parents are during the school year and you actually have them when they’re awake so the privilege of helping them with more than just academics is very meaningful to me.
3.What was the worst part?
K: The education system for the generations today. It may suck to not like your coworkers, but I always felt worse whenever I saw my students’ education being neglected by their parents, and when education was the only thing that mattered. While I get choked up while talking about how the American education system has failed me and had failed my previous students, I feel just as sad knowing that my students in Korea spent 90% of their time in school, private tutoring sessions, and after school academies.
A: The worst thing in my experience was the lack of support, as a new teacher. I was constantly overwhelmed with the feeling that I couldn’t do anything right. (more so in my first year than the second) .
4. What is your favorite Memory?
K: I had a class with three little boys,and two of them were twins. This was a lower level class in the English academy I taught at in Korea, therefore their reading comprehension and pronunciation was weak. Whenever we needed to practice the vocabulary, I would ask them to race to draw and spell out the words. These three are amazing artists by the way, and they had so much fun playing this game.
A: Going over an activity with 2nd graders and the words must’ve been misunderstood one girl piped up “what’s rabbit cheese” and to the rest of the class it was so random we all busted up laughing, kids being kids when they started to calm down someone said it again sending us into a fit of giggles. I know at I was supposed to be the mature adult and keep order, but I whole heartedly believe if you can’t be silly and nonsensical with your kids occasionally you’re not meant to teach.
5. Do you have advice for other teachers?
K: Don’t teach if you are easily impatient or angry when your students don’t understand. I’ve taught kids, teens, and adults, and sometimes I can become so frustrated when something I find easy needs more of an explanation for them.
A: Support each other, I honestly can’t stress that enough.
6. What would you do differently?
K: Not work for a school that doesn’t put it’s students before the money.Or work at a school I’m not happy with. I miss my students, but I’d rather be without a job then be miserable again.
A: I would seriously think out more how I want procedures to be handled and increase engagement.
7. Do you still want to teach?
K: Yes, I hope I can become a college professor some day. And fingers crossed I can teach in Korea again
A: Yes. I just have to figure out in what capacity/where I would best fit.
8. Describe a typical day.
K: In Korea: I would go to work around 1pm, noon on days I had to travel about an hour to the other campuses. Then, I would prepare class materials, practice what I would teach, and sweep my assigned rooms before classes started at 3pm. For the first half of my day, I would teach at least 2 classes involving the story book we were reading. The second half of the day I would teach older kids, up to age 14, current events or SAT level English. My last class would finish around 9pm.
A: Wake up super tired, get to school, boot up computer set out lesson plans and make sure I’ve got everything, drink coffee hoping caffeine hits immediately because I hear footsteps already. Take care of kids who are already complaining they need to go to the nurse or left their lunch box in mom’s car. Work through math describing the same steps 100 times and still hands raised and “I don’t get it”, but you have to move on and hope they’ll pick it up in small group or by the end of the week when you have to give a quiz because data is so important. Read the story and talk about main idea, details, characters, fact/opinion, inferencing, show what’s expected for small group stations work with small groups which is my favorite. Specials/planning where you run around like a crazy person checking emails and making phone calls and copies and going to the bathroom if you remember because 45 minutes is way too short. Lunch with the kiddos, trying to sit with different kids every day and get to know them. Recess where you pray none of your kids need anything for just 30 minutes. Going back inside and trying to get everyone settled is like trying to give cats a bath. The afternoon is trying to cram writing with proper grammar lessons and organization that makes at least some sense along with science or social studies which really is no longer seen as high priority in elementary schools. Barely get cleaned up and packed up to release for buses on time. Kids rush out the door. You’re left exhausted hoping they got something from the day. Head to the library for professional development meeting that lasts at least an hour. All you hear is “rigor” and “time on task” and “data”. Go back to your classroom and plan for 4 more hours before you go home still leaving a stack of unfinished work.
Biggest lesson learned
K: Teaching is not easy. Certain tasks can be easy, sure.Though you could be a genius in a specific craft, and still have a hard time teaching someone what you know. It’s no joke that some people are visual learnings while others can recite what they learned from reading a book.
A: I learned so much about myself in reflecting daily on how I handled the daily demands of so many children that I was responsible for. I also learned how much it means to me to be able to truly make a difference for kids on their educational journey. I don’t know what they took away from their time with me but I hope a least a few of them learned something valuable. I want to continue to teach even if I don’t know where that road is going just yet.