The school year is coming to a close; tomorrow my 6th graders graduate and move onto middle school. The end of my first year teaching is a bit sad for me because I will be starting a job at a new school. But, I also feel relieved and elated that I made it through, and by all accounts did so successfully!
I’m one of those lucky people that had an amazing school, location, and apartment. What can I say about my co-teachers, principal and vice principal? At times, I had a hard time because of the cultural customs and language barrier, but I was fortunate enough to be placed with people who were genuinely nice and supportive. I think God put me here so that I could learn how to deal with some adversity and also, as He does, learn to love even when it’s difficult.
My principal is a very outgoing guy. He stands outside in the mornings to greet everyone. It just occurred to me that he would make an outstanding greeter at Wal-mart! Anyway, whatever the weather, he could be found in front of the school saying ‘good morning’ and ‘hello’ (in Korean of course) to all the students and staff as they arrived. This was a bit annoying for some people and I admit, on the days I was a few minutes late, I loathed seeing him at his post. My vice-principal is a very sweet ajumma. I’m told she can be a little cross with young female teachers but she was always the epitome of kindness and generosity to me.
One of the best connections I made this year was with my co-teacher, Grace. She introduced me to Onnuri Church, which is where Mike and I currently attend. She’s a Christian and many times we were there for each other. It’s been a blessing. It’s also been fascinating seeing Christianity practiced through the lens of a different culture. I’m sure Grace will be one of my life-long friends.
My other co-teachers
Regarding my students, my only regret in teaching public school is that I had so many of them. I didn’t get to form a close bond with them and in fact, only remember a handful of students’ names. This is because in a typical week I see over 700 students. Even though, I tried to make myself approachable and would say hello to them in the hallways and try to make small talk with them on the way to school and so forth.
I think now that I have a year of experience under my belt, I feel a bit more confident for the next year. Since I’ve decided to teach public school again I will have an insight into the way things are done and it will not be a completely new thing. I’ll miss my co-teachers and students, but I look forward to a new school which is a new opportunity to experience a different location in Seoul. I’m told my new school is in a richer area and near more amenities. Time will tell how we’ll get on.