Yup, that's me now. Teacher. How weird is that? It's been a busy couple weeks while I get the hang of this teaching thing, but it's been surprisingly good. My younger students, while trying at times, have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for English so those classes are a lot of fun most days. My middle school students are, you know, teenagers, so everything is just terribly booorrriiinngg and uncool to them, which can make my job a little more challenging some days.
I have been trying to strike a balance between being the fun teacher and being strict.
I think my personality lends itself more readily to strict more days because, frankly, I am not going to shout at them all day, every day to be heard. All in all though, while this is not my dream job, I think I will be just fine doing it for the next year or two (the picture is my desk, of course!).
As I mentioned when I first got the job, I have a pretty laid back job on the whole. I teach 3-6 classes a day, with ample work time for planning. I can leave the school when I want, within reason. I can run errands and chill on the internet and go for food. Many (most) people do not get that kind of freedom at their teaching jobs so I am really lucky in that way.
However in terms of presentation and propriety, I may be at one of the more strict schools. My school is one of the oldest English language institutes in Busan and is run by a former aristocratic family, so the expectation around dress and conduct is high. It doesn't bother me, only I often feel like I might be offensive to Mr. Kim (Director, head of family, all around honcho) because I'm, well, me.
But as many other foreigners have nicely shared with me, I shouldn't worry too much about all that. Try my best to bow when I should, hand over money as I should, wear appropriate clothing, and let the rest slide...the Koreans will usually forgive foreigners because we get the "wild card" in terms of behaviour :)
Oh! And I am still not quite used to being bowed to numerous times a day. The students bow to me as I walk down the hall and they bow to me when I say goodbye. It's kind of awesome ;-) but it can be hard to get used to. And I have to be conscious of not bowing back! I have a few times and that's completely unnecessary and somewhat underscores their show of respect to me by bowing in the first place.
So these are the things that I'm learning and expecting will eventually become the norm. I am getting more used to knowing who and when to bow and though I don't worry too much about how deep to bow, I do try to remember to bow to anyone significantly older than me. I think I maybe bow more than necessary to some people, but I'd rather err on the side of too polite than not polite enough!
Also, I can see some of the students starting to feel warmer towards me because I am starting to get gifts. Just today I got the sticker on my hand in the picture ;-) and a few days ago I was given an orange. Also, more and more of them know my name and are referring to me by it instead of just the generic 'teacher' all of the time. I have decided to view each of these small things as a victory in my new life as a teacher....teacher!