Normally when you do an open class in Korea you’ll have a number of people come and observe. These consist of other teachers at your school, parents, and people from the Office of Education. About 6 weeks ago, however, we were asked if we’d like to do an open class in front of people from the Office of Education, other teachers, principals from others schools, a representative from a different Office of Education, and about 10 EPIK teachers. After a normal open class, everyone leaves and you continue to your next class. With this class we would have to attend a formal 30-40 minute meeting in which we received feedback from our observers. I’m not sure why we agreed to it, but having finished it I’m glad we did.
My co-teacher and I had to put in serious hours of preparation. We constantly made changes to the lesson; even changing things at the last minute. The most time consuming thing was preparing a 20 page lesson plan, including an appendix.
For various reasons we had only one true chance at rehearsing the lesson with a different class. It didn’t go well. Our timing was bad and one exercise was beyond the level of the students. After changing things up a bit we went into the open class feeling pretty nervous. Fortunately, I’m a bit of an attention seeker at times so I knew that I’d enjoy it once we started.
How did it go?
It went extremely well. I had no idea it would be so successful. Although there was room for improvement, Maria and I worked well together and the kids were the stars of the show. They seemed to love every activity and were applauding each other when they did well. Although my classes are normally quite energetic they aren’t usually so kind to each other; preferring to laugh at each others mistakes instead of encouraging each other.
After the class we had the formal meeting. The feedback was 100% positive. Mr Lee, from the Office of Education said it was a model class and that he wanted to use this as the standard for all co-teaching classes. He said the teaching relationship Maria and I had was exactly what he imagines when he thinks about the ideal teaching partnership. He also said he couldn’t believe I had only been teaching for 2.5 months.
Easy there Jim, aren’t you getting a bit of a big head here?
Yes! I realize that we are living in a culture that does its best to avoid conflict/criticism, but as any new teacher will tell you, those first few months (maybe even years) teaching are filled with self doubt. You wonder if you’re doing a good job, or even making the slightest bit of difference. You also wonder what other teachers are like in comparison to you and what they would think about your style. Having the EPIK teachers, school principals, and EPIK supervisor give us both compliments was a massive confidence booster, even if they didn’t mean it.
We were able to film only 30 minutes of the 45 minute lesson. I’ve cut it up and put it here. The videos are in chronological order. I’ve also attached the full lesson plan in DOC and HWP format, and the ppt file we used. Please excuse any grammatical errors. This is not the final lesson plan (I can’t find it). Also, it was written by Maria who, despite her excellent English, is not a native speaker so there are a few mistakes. I simply copied and pasted from HWP to DOC so the DOC file will have a few lining errors but all-in-all it should be fine.
HWP lesson plan file
On the last video you will see the cultural taboo exercise. Due to camera problems you don’t see anything after that. For the last 15 minutes we went through each of the country taboos answers (including the reasons for them), with each table marking their own work, tallying scores, doing a quick consolidation task, and finishing with error correction and praise.
One more thing to note, I had no idea I sounded so ridiculous in real life. I knew I sounded bad but speaking slowly so the kids can understand me makes me sound pretty thick.
Video one – Review activity
Video Two – Matching Sentences
Video Three – PPT Pictures
Video four – Charades
Video Five-Cultural Taboos