My week

It's been a week since I posted last, and it's because I have no time! Not really, I suppose, but it IS limited, and with Grey's Anatomy and House starting up this month, I've been taking my spare 45-minute blocks to watch downloads instead of blogging. So perhaps a glance at the weekly schedule of a hagwon minion will help you understand...

Five days a week, I teach a class at 7am at Norske Skog paper factory. The class is pretty good, and I enjoy the adults, but it's really early. I get up at 6, catch a cab around 6:40 for the 10-minute, $3.50 ride over and have my "Idiom of the Day" on the board by 7:05. One of my students usually takes me to breakfast in the company cafeteria -- cereal and toast -- and I get home around 8:30.

I take my hideously ugly shihtzu, Aby, for a walk and feed her disgusting wet food. I usually have about an hour, so I run through my morning web routine: e-mail, Facebook, the Chicken, Dave's, the blogroll and my favorite webcomics. I check sports scores, sometimes bring up a game on MLB.TV or audio or gamecast or NHL scoresheet, if the timing's right.

Kindergarten starts at 10. Monday through Thursday we do reading, thinking skills, math or phonics as the academic subject and song time, crafts, Gymschule or "weekly diary" as creative time. Monday through Thursday I have 12-2 for lunch, which really means errands -- banks, immigration, travel agencies, vets...all lunchtime visits. Plus, y'know, the eating. If I get a free lunch, I usually either nap or write (I write fiction too). Fridays I only have an hour, so everything's compressed. Then my afternoon classes...

2:00 (M-F): 7-9 (all ages are the Korean version). This is my favorite class of the day. They're the most advanced students at their grade level. They can be hard to control, but overall, I love the kids. They're smart, funny and don't stress me a bit.

3:00 (M-F): (7-8) These are the beginner kids, but I have a wonderful assistant for that class, so it's easy. They're at a very low level and comprehend essentially no English, but they're very enthusiastic and the fun thing about teaching beginners is seeing how quickly they make progress.

4:00 (MWF): (9-11) The lowest level at this time. Some of them have no concept of phonics and can't read the word "the". They're also very talkative. Most classes, I feel like I'm really only teaching three of them, the rest are just hanging out in the back.

4:00 (TR): One step up from the MWF kids. They aren't bad, though unfortunately my two smartest kids insist on talking to each other the entire class, and they'd probably benefit the most from paying attention.

5:00 (MW): My worst class. There are too many of them, their level is very low, they're unruly, and all but about two couldn't care less about learning English. We're lucky if we get through a page a day of the book.

6:00 (TR) and 7:00 (TW): TOEFL listening. Great kids. Anywhere from second to eighth grade, they're the bst at the school. Several are effectively fluent*. For both classes, one day we do work with the TOEFL book and tape and the other we do something more fun. This week was ghost stories.

Private: Three days a week (TRF), I tutor a sixth grader at his apartment. It's a challenge sometimes doing an hour's worth of material for just one student, but it's actually pretty funny, and he's a good kid and good student.

I finish at 6 on Monday, so that's cleaning day. I'm done at 7 on Wednesday, so I usually do any grocery shopping that day. And every other day I get home about 9:45, take the dog out, and go to bed. It isn't that I'm cranky when tired or can't get by on six hours sleep. It's just that this job can drive you crazy, and the quickest way to start letting kid-things stress you is to be tired. So I'm trying not to be tired.

*the lone second-grader is a genius little boy who's also a math whiz. He asks me often for lists of how to say math-type things in English. We've done angles, shapes, things like that. I included polygon names up to 1000-sided figures on that list, telling him jokingly, "When you draw a shape with a thousand sides, you let me know." The next day he presented me with a ciliagon. So, quite a kid.

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