Wednesday, November 12, 2008

School Opening Day

It's not what it sounds like.... Dogye Elementary School seems to have been open since at least the Korean War (1950 - '53). Instead, yesterday our school was "open" to teachers and administrators from all around Dogye Eub (an administrative region somewhat smaller than a county).

For days, everyone at school had been freaking out making artsy name tags, cleaning every last shoe-locker and polishing every last trophy. When we arrived yesterday, it felt more like we were walking into a sales convention or wedding reception than our school.

The entrance to the gymnasium.

Inside the gymnasium were scores of displays of students' artwork and stories, and teachers' methods, like the games we use in English class.

There were also a couple of banners (Koreans love banners). We were surprised to see that this one featured Melanie! And no, that's not a prison behind her. Those are the gym's offices.

After lunch, Kim Sun and I taught a demonstration class for about twenty other teachers and the elementary school supervisor for Samcheok County. Kim Sun - who just finished her "English Education Degree" - had planned this down to the last word (even my words), and was visibly nervous before we started. She's actually a great English teacher, and with her more than any other Korean teacher, we have a good natural dynamic in the classroom - both letting the other teach in their style and being there to support the other on pronunciation or complex directions or whatever. But yesterday she was just putting on a show, and had me relegated me to the talking stooge. In all of the feedback I heard, from Koreans and foreigners alike, was that I should have more of a role in the class. I don't know why Kim Sun set up that class the way she did - to show off, I suppose, but she is actually the one co-teacher I work with that doesn't need to hear that I should have more of a role in class... several of my other teachers really do need to hear that. Oh well. Hopefully she impressed whomever she was trying to impress.

After the demo class, we went into the freezing cold gymnasium, and Chantel (one of the three other foreigners who lives in Dogye) was asked to give a speech about her impressions of the demo class, the school, teaching in Korea and Korea in general. No need, apparently, for preparation, or for a translator. I would guess that less than 10% of the audience understood more than 10% of what she said.

Nevertheless, here she is trying to take the task seriously.

And here are the other foreigners trying not to laugh at her attribution of the children's good behavior to their nutritious lunches.

After two hours of not understanding anything in the gymnasium, we had had enough and scurried away to this restaurant for an awesome dinner. All of that, including drinks, for 8,500 won each (US$6.36).

And a bunch of happy campers after a good meal.


Julie Levy said...

Sounds like an interesting day. Why do they do this? Will you go to other schools for the same thing?

Michael Levy said...

I think because ours is the biggest and best performing school in the area, the idea is that teachers from the other schools could come learn what we're doing right. I don't know if we'll go to other schools...