Friday, August 18, 2017

Week One = Done!

I do love beginnings. Those first few minutes in a movie where the camera swoops over, in or around the setting, the audio helping to stage the scene; those first few pages in a book when the story is still unknown and could take you anywhere; that moment when you first go to a new place and are able to escape certain preconceived expectations like a reset... There's just so much potential for anything!

When writing, beginnings were always my favourite (which is also probably why I've finished so few stories). I just find something attractive about beginnings.

This week was certainly one of beginnings for me, my coworkers and many of my students. 

The first week of the school year...
The first at a new school (or section of the school)...
The first in an advisory (homeroom equivalent)...
The first of many assemblies...
The first auditions and tryouts for all sorts of programs...
The first few assessments and tasks...

Really there are too many firsts to list and I know that many are a bit shell shocked after this week (both among faculty and students). I definitely forgot how much information our school uses as the foundation for many other programs and systems. From our multiple online platforms to the structure of the advisory program, the school council and then of course the requirements for the IB, there's a lot to grasp and remember. It can leave even the best reeling in the first few weeks. Ugh!
My goofy post First-Day Selfie.

Still, I think this was a good intro to the year. My students seem keen (here's hoping that'll last after a few weeks of school!) and I'm really excited for the content that we'll be covering in my courses this year. 

As we progress through the next few weeks, my goal is to really lay the foundation so that (a) hopefully we don't have to backtrack later on and (b) to help students navigate induction as stress free as possible, and (c) to help them see the relevance between how we structure our units, what we cover and the MYP Global Contexts. Here's hoping I can balance it all without rushing or going too slowly! I suppose that is the challenge and obstacle for teachers: time.

Here we go!

Love and Hugs

Sunday, August 13, 2017

First Day Jitters? Ob-seo-yo (없어요)!

(For some reason I had a lot more asides to this post... do I delete them? Nope).

Over the weekend, as I logged extra hours at school (organizing last minute details, refining later lesson plans, and coordinating my head space), I can't help my brain from jumping all over the place: Am I forgetting something? Do I have all my materials ready for each of my first classes? Should I vacuum my apartment this weekend? What about second period? What else do I need to do? I must be forgetting something... 

And yet for the most part, I think I'm ready. Or at least, ready enough to get through the first week. The planner in me really wishes I had everything until Chuseok planned (about 7 weeks away for those of you unfamiliar with Korean holidays. ㅎㅎ). A bit unrealistic, I know. Especially as I haven't met my students yet and they are often the confounding variable to even the best plans.

Thinking about the start of school, I find myself turning through the pages of the teaching journal I started in university at the prompting of my history curriculum prof (shout out to Ted Christou! Who will probably never read this. Oh well...). Of course this journal was a ploy to get us to reflect even more on everything. (If there was a contest for words over-used at the Fac of Ed, reflect* would be a top contender. Differentiation would be a close second, and yes I recognize the value of reflection. Which is why I feel like I have a right to mock it as well).

In looking back through this journal, I found entries about my thoughts before I entered my placement, before I taught my first lesson, after I'd been teaching for a week and ideas for things I'd like to try in my classroom. It's interesting now to see what I was worried about then in comparison to now. Fears about whether the technology would work, whether I'd forget key information, or whether the students wouldn't see me as a teacher. Here's an excerpt from the day before I entered one of my longer placements:

Coming from the ConEd side of things, I think I should feel somewhat more at ease, and yet not so much. I feel antsy and have the feeling in my chest of nervous giggles waiting to escape--like bubbles rising up in a glass of pop, anxious to break the surface.

Oddly enough, at this moment in time, it's not even the students that are making me nervous. It's my host teacher. And the other staff. Right now, I'm worrying about the impression I'll make on them. What if we don't get along? What if they don't see me as a Teacher Candidate? What if I say something stupid? (I have since learned this is not an IF but a matter of WHEN ㅋㅋ).

As silly as it may seem, as I sit in my room this Monday night, I can honestly say that it's been a few years since I've worried and debated (internally) so much about what I'm going to wear the first day of school. Cue the feelings of "childish-ness."

I'm happy to say that I am no longer worried about my coworkers. I would make an argument that I have some of the best coworkers in the world.

Tomorrow, I'll be meeting a couple of my homeroom students and their parents. Where I think this would have once freaked me out (especially to the point of worrying about my outfit!), I am more excited and disappointed that only a couple parents signed up for a slot. I really wanted to make that connection and open the home dialogue early on. Hopefully the ones that didn't sign up still come wandering through for a quick hello!

For the most part, as I think about tomorrow and this week, I feel calm. First day jitters? Worries? Ob-seo-yo! My co-teachers and I have some really exciting things (I think they are exciting and thus they must be!) planned for this year and I really hope that the students can get into the new routines and ideas. Woot!

And on that note of positive energy, I'm going to bed. Please enjoy this (old) pep talk from the kid president.

Love and Hugs

Monday, August 07, 2017

Settling In: Apartment Life

And thus, I have entered the world of apartment dwellers—the people who have a room or two, a kitchen, a bed and sporadic furniture minus a yard—and it feels great. No residence living for me this year! Get out the flags and play the music loud. (But not too loud so as not to annoy the neighbours!)

It's been a whirlwind over the last couple of weeks (feels more like a couple of months, but alas it was not that long).

After Quebec City, my mum sister and I found time for a bit of camping in between visits with friends, and then I flew off to Colorado for a few days for more visits with friends, before at last embarking on my 26h trek from Denver to my new apartment near my school (see a couple of landscape highlights below!). Last week was packed with induction-y things as I joined the crew of "new" teachers coming to Jeju and BHA for the first time. It's fun meeting new people and it looks like this will be a good year with some good people. Or at least here's hoping.

My apartment is a one bedroom apartment with the main flaw being there is not as much space as many of us westerners are used to. For those of us in the same apartment complex, we were all surprised there were no drawers. In reflection, it's probably a good thing because I then keep everything visible and this will hopefully keep me from hoarding utensils that I never use and a permanent residence of dark drawers, but I also didn't want to keep that much on my counter top if I could help it... Oh well. The joys of interior decorating, I suppose.

The only thing I'm missing is a good bookshelf to bring it all together. Until then, no photos. ㅋㅋㅋHere's hoping I can find something that suits my designs in the next couple of weeks, or, after discussing with coworkers, potentially build something to suit my purposes (I did always want to do woodshop in high school. A little late but...).

At least I now have wifi!

Here's hoping I get everything I need done before classes next week! Time to be productive.

Love and Hugs
Sunset over Charleston Lake (Ontario)
Beautiful sun shining over the Rockies (South of Garden of the Gods, Colorado)
View of Pike's Peak from Palmer Park

Things I've learned about France (or at least Normandy)

Well there we go, my second European country. In some ways, very similar to England (a lot of meat and potatoes, fancy churches, pay toilets...