Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back to Korea | Chuseok Break: A Time To Breathe

Well well well.

It's been a really long time since I updated.  This is due to the unprecedented difficult and busy start to the school year.

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) came early this year and with it a full five days to do anything we wanted.  Which for us meant completely chill.  We tried to clear our schedules as much as possible, to give us time to rest, sleep, be together, work on extra work things, and extra personal things.

This means it's the first chance I've gotten to update my blog since we arrived back in Korea.  So I just uploaded some Disney pics, Michigan pics, (but changed the publish date to a month ago) and now a few pics from our time back here.

It's been a great start but unbelievably busy.  For a few reasons.

1) Our school had a major administrative overhaul.  Every position was filled by a new person.  This is an exciting time for our school, and everyone is AMAZING. But with it comes some new changes.  I'd consider this the least of my worries, since everyone is so kind and wonderful.  With those new additions came a new middle school principal and his wife our new MS counselor.  They are a perfect fit for our program and brought four lovely children with them.  Our new headmaster is full of energy and positive thoughts for our school.  He brings a love for the Lord and a passion for serving kids...it's exciting to think about the new things ahead!

2) There are tons of new people and activities here at the beginning of the year.  The weather is beautiful, everyone's in a good mood...tons of reasons to hang out!

3) The head cross country coach left, the guy I had been working with for five years.  He did ALL of the work for this team.  I swore up and down I would never be head coach, but inevitably the responsibility fell on me.  Thankfully, another girl stepped up and offered to help.  She has been taking over practices and I have been doing the behind-the-scenes organization.  This entails everything I didn't want to do, but I'm settling in I suppose.  At first it was extremely difficult, kids were quitting left and right, and I had a lot of the burden of that on me.  Now, our team is solidified, and things are going well.  I am happy with the team, but I am still in no position to do all this work with my new classes.

4) Many changes are coming to our middle school this year, the first being block scheduling and the second being a switch to standards-based-grading. It basically means that the way we've all been grading for years has to be revamped.  Students are now graded only on the skills they've mastered.  If they haven't mastered a skill, we are expected to work with them until they're at that point.  It is completely ideal but wrapping my head around it has been difficult and challenging.

5) On a personal professional note, and definitely the biggest change for me, has been a job switch. After eight years of teaching reading, I've moved into a technology/Spanish position.  I begged for this job, and it is truly a dream job 1) Christian school 2) middle school 3) technology 4) Spanish but WOW I completely underestimated the work load.  I am teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Technology and 7th and 8th grade Spanish.  Eventually that means 5 different preps a day (most teachers teach two) and six classes a day. Right now there has been some overlap in the classes I'm teaching, but next year that won't be the case.  I LOVE what I'm teaching, but sometimes it's completely overwhelming, especially since I developed everything from scratch.  I hope in an upcoming post I can share some of the things I'm doing with the kids.  It's exciting and something I'm proud of.

6) Teaching 6th graders has been a big challenge for me.  They aren't quite capable of what I expected yet, but I know they'll get there.  They knew so little when they first got their computers.  I believe this is due to two factors, 1) our school has no elementary computer curriculum (MUST change) and 2) These kids are so young that their main digital exposure has been through smart phones and tablets.  Many of them do not know how to type and a computer interface is blowing some of their minds.  In the past technology has never been a mandatory class for sixth graders, but I thought that needed to change, so I made it happen.  Now I am in charge of teaching 85 kids to use laptops properly (by myself) and I'm a little shellshocked.  But it's ok, we're figuring it out together, slowly.

All in all, it's been a great start to a great year.  I feel refreshed and excited about work in a new way, and really excited...REALLY excited to be teaching what I'm teaching for the first time in my career.  I consider this something to be thankful to God for!!

I really do enjoy blogging and hope to continue this year.  My two main goals for right now would be including updates for my 30 before 30 list (wow, I'm almost 31...) and writing about our last Christmas break trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. (How have I not done that yet??)

Here's just a few pics from the six weeks we've been back.

(A million thanks to my man who surprised me with a new phone a few weeks ago!!  I never had one but now I am part of the buzz.  It's great for keeping up with friends and taking photos on the go!  I know a new one just came out but this will forever be my favorite :) )

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