Teacher! Teacher!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!