Notes on Teaching

Kindergarten Goodbye

Last weekend, my students graduated kindergarten–a two-hour ceremony that featured caps and gowns, song and dance acts, and a re-imagined version of The Blind Men and the Elephant, for which I constructed a miniature elephant from cardboard, felt, and packing tape–the same tape I used to seal up the three boxes I shipped home to Canada.

This week, while I begin my travels through India, my students will begin Grade 1 and the start of a long road through Korea’s education system: days in public school, afternoons in hagwons, and evenings spent studying, often until they sleep.


Joe Teacher

A few weeks back, Joe had an extra day off from his teaching gig at Sindo Elementary. Instead of sleeping in while I schlepped to work, mentally preparing to face the noise of my kindie kids after a luxuriously peaceful four-day weekend, he came into school with me.  I tell him stories about my students frequently, brief vignettes from my day along the lines of: “Albert told me he got three points in Taekwondo class yesterday,” or “You’ve gotta meet Charley. He clung to me all the way down the hall during bathroom break today, dragging his little feet behind me and saying, ‘teachuh, you have-uh foh legs.’”


Chuseok Love…

with the kiddies.

For my readers at home: Chuseok is a three-day Korean holiday that traditionally celebrates the autumn harvest. For us waygooks, it means a four-day weekend. (Asa!) For Koreans, it means returning to their hometowns, paying respect to their ancestors, and sharing a feast.  Many also wear traditional clothes called hanbok.

So at school on Friday, we held a Hanbok Fashion Show so the kids could show off their gear…

It was a pretty big deal.

Monica, Louis, and Jeff--I start each morning with them, grateful that coffee was invented.


In Thinking: Nights with My Korean Uni Class

Hello all–this is Part 2 of “Where Have I Been?”  (If you missed Part 1, scroll down to previous post for a quick read…)

~Coco xo

I kind of want to sum it up.


Where Have I Been? (Part 1)

First off–hello everyone!

I’m back on the blog after an unintended month-long hiatus.  I wish I could say I’ve been away somewhere exotic or tropical or both, but the truth is I’ve been working–teaching my kindies, doing freelance marketing, and wrapping up the end of my three-month stint teaching university on the side, which took up more hours of my life than I care to count. The uni experience has given me a lot to process–about Korea and how things operate here, about writing and how to teach it, about what drives me.  So, I’ve decided to write a few separate posts to describe this recent chapter–the first is here for you below, with a to-be-continued…

Also–you’re probably noticing the Coco Busan site looks different–I’ve switched over to a new theme. In the mood for change these days…gotta keep things fresh!  Hope you like:)


Cheerleader Dinosaur Love

You never imagined the words “kindergarten” and ”teacher” would attach themselves to your name, become a part of your identity, appear on your resume beside the unexpected year of 2010.  But you wake up one morning in Korea, draw eyeliner whiskers on your cheeks, and walk into a classroom full of pirates, vampires, and a six-year old cheerleader called Sunny.

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Who sits beside a dinosaur called Thomas.

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First (love) Triangle

My first crush struck in the fourth grade, in Miss Vanderee’s class, on a boy called Steven Costa.  He wasn’t the smartest or the funniest or the most charismatic; I think his part in the class play consisted of doling out props to the lead roles.  But he had dark hair and dark eyes and exuded a quiet sort of energy, in that intriguing makes-you-wonder-what-goes-on-in-his-head kind of way.  

My friend Karley Shraeder liked him too.  Neither of us ever confessed our feelings to the boy, but spent many recess breaks gazing at him from a distance on the field behind the school.  Back then it was okay for two girlfriends to daydream about the same boy.  When your age is still a single digit, stakes of the heart just aren’t as high.

So it is in Cornell Class, where among the flashcards and eraser bits, phonics lessons and lunchtime chopsticks, a triangle has formed.

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Bill

Somehow two weeks have slid by without a fresh Coco post, days teaching weather and short vowel sounds, evenings researching and writing my first story for Eloquence Magazine (more on that later), and an attempt to incorporate sit-ups into my daily routine.  This weekend S. Korea beat Greece 2-0 in their first game of the World Cup, a win I cheered for under a starless sky on Haeundae beach, the night lit by thousands of red plastic devil’s horns glowing from the heads of fans.


Little Love

New romance appeared in Cornell class this week, first spotted on Tuesday when Julia slipped her hand into Eric’s during storytime.  Some girls really know how to flirt and make it work.  He better not blow it…she’s a catch.

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Stickers and Sharpeners: Teaching the Ivy League

 

The bulk of my experience with kids dates back to the summers of 1989, ’90, and ’91, when I posted a felt-marker sign advertising babysitting services to the wall of my dad’s grocery store in Waskesiu Lake, Saskatchewan.  

‘Responsible and reliable,’  it read.  ’Babysitting course-certified.  Likes doing crafts.’


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