So finally my week has ended. I find myself here at the local Internet Cafe (a "PC Bang"), sitting in front of a cool fan, finally being able to dress myself in my gym shorts, t-shirt, sandels, and my trusty old Carolina hat while writing the thoughts that cross my fatigued mind.

I actually have a variety of topics I want to write about ... stuff I've pondered while sitting around on the bus, or while teaching class ... etc.

My co-workers are awesome, which is keeping me sane. Joseph is cultured guy who represents that inner jack-of-all-trades type of guy... he is pursuing music (he says that if his band's music was polled, most people wouldn't even call it music ... ) but he also has "employable skills." He's well-versed in many things and you can talk about with just about anything. There are two Johns (one Jonathan and one John) who are equally interesting.

Jonathan is a polisci major from University of Toronto who is a complete Canadian patriot. He will never fail to tell me when some celebrity is Canadian ... and he loves to talk about politics with me. My anti-Kerry (which admittedly turns to pro-Bush given the lack of choices) stances are particularly interesting to him; he gets to meet face-to-face with the stereotyped redneck American. Har har.

The other John is another musical nut from Austin, Texas. A very interesting guy, although I haven't had a chance to really talk to him too much besides talking about our iPods and our interests in music.

Christine is from Canada; I haven't really talked to her too much.

Patricia is somewhere from California. We shared a class (each class gets split into two two-hours segments) and we had a fun time talking about the class (a bunch of rowdy 7th and 8th graders). For some reason, we've not had too much trouble clicking and are having fun jabbing away at each other (repartees!).

Two new teachers joined us today. Don't really know too much about them, although one of them remarked, "I really like the atmosphere here."

And that does sum up the situation. Having the top two people in "power" at the hakwon (private school for those of you who don't kno) being women has a really positive effect. Things don't seem so strict. Plus, them two and the secretary LOVE to joke around... I had been spending a lot of time with Jonathan (we catch lunch/dinner when we have time and we went and saw Shrek last Saturday) ... so they started joking around that we were "dating." Of course, I play along, much to Jonathan's chagrin...

I finally got the small app for grading SATs done. Basically it lets you create classes, SAT exams, and students. You can create a SAT exam and upload an answer key, and then input each student's answer key. Based on this, it first grades the SAT (thus returning their SAT score) and then generates some meta-data which is crucial to me: which questions most of the class gets wrong.

My SAT students took their second SATs today, and the grades weren't too much better, which is slightly discouraging to me. I feel like a small step should of been made. But I'll work harder this week and try to get these kids on the right track.

Surprisingly, most of them have trouble on the math portion (along the obvious gaping holes in the verbal). This makes things harder than I originally imagined; I have to spend more time on math (and thus less on verbal... agh!).

I think my students and I are building a rapport; I love to joke around with them, and they're opening up to me (in the form of making fun of me... why do people keep making fun of me?!?!?!?). This will be good as I continue to get to know their academic weaknesses better. I think starting next week I'm really going to zero in on some problematic students and try to get them to work hard.

There was this one girl, Sooyeon, who would always fail her vocabulary quizzes (if you do, you have detention and have to retest until you get them right). Well, she finally got a 97% today after failing all week! I was totally ecstatic ... maybe I didn't have a damn thing to do with her improvement, but it does feel _good_ to have my students doing well. There is another girl, Joowon, who is a perennial fail-er (almost typed that 'failure,' oops!). I think she is perfectly capable of remembering the words, but she's just not trying. Time for some one-on-one action to motivate her to do some more studying...

So with the arrival of two more teachers, I got to pass off my 7th/8th grader classes to one of the two new teachers, Jennifer (who happens to be related to the hakwon's owner...). I'm so glad. The class has two boys, Wontae and Kyungjun, who are such troublemakers. They are both incredibly bright, but love to mess around with me. I think they have a general problem with authority, because they feel they are 'better' than it. Well, Kyungjun just doesn't seem to care, but Wontae, I believe, feels that he is 'too smart' for some of the teachers.

In any case, the depressing part is that I think they were just starting to look up to me. Yesterday, they managed to get me off-topic (I was supposed to be discussing the Phantom Tollbooth), so I started this long digression on America and its blunders in foreign policy in the Middle East. I detailed the creation of the Israeli state, the constant warfare between the Israelis and Arabs, our blunders in dealing with Iran/Iraq (Contra Scandal), and wrapped it all up with the recent war.

I did a damn good job of keeping the talk historical and keeping any politics out of it. I gave them both sides of every argument and for the first time, they were so quiet and didn't interrupt me. They listened and kept asking questions about "why didn't it happen like this?" And for the first time, I felt like I was really "teaching" them something interesting... something they wanted to learn.

In general, I find middle school/high school boys quite interested in history ... especially those that have to do with warfare. Perhaps people should spend more time trying to teach these kids who are willing to learn ... learning history is so darned beneficial in so many ways ... hmm.

Well, I'm going to finish this entry up and play a bit of Starcraft. I have a lot more left to write tonight ... =)
Posted by roy on June 25, 2004 at 05:14 AM in Travel | 4 Comments

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Comment posted on June 26th, 2004 at 10:38 AM
Comment posted on June 25th, 2004 at 07:39 PM
the phantom tollbooth is my favorite book from childhood...and now too i guess

PM5K (guest)

Comment posted on June 25th, 2004 at 12:06 PM
I guess I\'m not the only one that chuckled when I read about the one on one action.....

I\'d better go to church or something quick....
Comment posted on June 25th, 2004 at 07:18 AM
I could use some study motivation. Could I have some one-on-one action aswell?