The academic year draws to a close tomorrow at my school. I imagine chaos will reign throughout the corridors as the students overrun the school – fuelled by the prospect of 2 months freedom. Like most people in my position right now, I have mixed feelings.
I came to the conclusion that teaching really isn’t for me. I’m too much of a control freak. While I managed to develop a very effective classroom management strategy, I still couldn’t get over my annoyance at even the slightest whispering between students while I was speaking. I always wanted complete silence, which is utterly ridiculous when you’re surrounded by 40 teenagers, many of whom have no idea what you’re saying.
The classes I truly found rewarding were my after school lessons. I got to see the same students 3 or 4 times a week. I watched them become more and more confident around me. They probably noticed me becoming more and more informal around them. I’m going to miss most of those students.
I’m also going to miss many of the students in my regular classes. There are, however, a good number of students I won’t miss, including a couple of boys I call Dumb & Dumber (to the amusement of my co-teacher). They generally missed my classes or slept through them the past couple of months so it’s been fairly easy.
My co-teachers, for the most part, have been very supportive to me. There have been some cultural differences that I’ve found difficult to get over. Having said that, the teacher who will replace me will be very lucky to inherit such a nice set of teaching staff.
As with my after school class, I’ve also developed a nice bond with my cleaning students. A couple of the girls always ask if I’ve taken any new pictures this week. They enjoy seeing what I get up to in my free time. One of the girls reprimands me most days for leaving the classroom lights on, ‘Teacher, save energy!’ is generally what she shouts while wagging her finger at me.
A couple others like to moan about their day while they’re sweeping up. I listen along trying to act concerned. The only boy in the group spends most of his time singing or dancing at the back. They’re a really cute bunch. They’ll be reaching their teens soon. Maybe they won’t be so cute next year.
I still have one week of winter camp to go, and about a month’s worth of desk warming, but as of tomorrow I will officially be finished teaching ‘real’ classes.
In a way, I feel like this past 22 months has been like a dream, as if Rachel and I have been wrapped in a bubble that’ll become a distant, vague memory as soon as we leave Korea. Sounds strange, I know.
(Click the images to enlarge)