Summer Camp, Part 1, Week 1

So if you are a public school teacher in Korea and you are the NSET, you (at least everyone in my stage) are contractually required to teach two weeks of summer camp, no less but possibly more, especially depending on your situation.

The district representative who never introduced themself to my stage when we settled in the district, sent out this e-mail saying that we are to do 3 weeks of summer camp and if you don’t do 3 weeks of regular summer camp, there is the culture camp that you can do. I wrote back and said that since my supervisor and I had gotten a goose egg on information about summer camp for the last two and a half months, I was given permission to take the first week of August off and vacation in Russia (!!!). The district rep replies that I’ve violated my contract and SMOE has every right to fire me, because we are not allowed to leave the country unless we’ve completed our 3 weeks, etc.  I asked my supervisor and together we got out the SMOE/NSET handbooks and the only things that it says about summer and winter vacation time for the NSET is: (1) it must be approved by the school’s principal, and (2) the request must be submitted 5 working days before departure. Which at the time my vacation was approved two months before the e-mail and the request was submitted about three months in advance. So after a flurry of e-mails I agreed to do a week when Ireturned. A couple of weeks later, the district rep sends out an e-mail saying that we are only responsible for two weeks of summer camp, we should do any more unless we want to and no one should force us to do more or else we allow ourselves and future teachers to be abused. ?????

But on to the fun stuff…

I’m doing my two weeks of summer camp at a nearby school, Joong Dae Elementary, it’s about an extra 10 minute (or more) walk depending on the traffic at the 12-lane street. There are three NSETS, a nice mix too, an Irish, a Canadian, and an American accent for the kids to hear. Classes start at 8:40am (20 minutes before normal school classes start) and end at 12:20pm. There are three classes a day, one with each teacher, snack time between the second and third class, and time to practice for the big performance. The students are broken into three classes: higher level (Pelican class), middle level (Flamingo class), and lower level (Toucan class). I have Pelican class and I lucked out because none of the Singa students are in my group!!! Every day there are new classes, for exampleI taught cartoons on Tuesday, geography on Wednesday, Weather on Thursday, and today we read a traditional Korean fairy tale in English and had Mini Olympics. The kids seem to be enjoying themselves, not really working from a textbook, especially a simplistic, boring one like the national textbook, and there are fun classes that they wouldn’t be able to do in regular school.

There are some interesting kids, one of the fourth grade girls is named Aileen, she’s this tiny thing with cutesy freckles below the corners of her eyes, but wow, looks are deceiving… Seemingly every class time, class, snack time, or play practice time, either my coteacher Do Yeon or I or both of us have to talk to her about hitting other students or cursing at other students. I had grouped the students into small groups of four, gave each group some paper, and had them make their own country, she erased other people’s drawings if she decided that they were bad or she didn’t want a mountain range there. After school, we divided the students into four groups and one group has to stay behind and clean each day, yesterday was her groups turn and she came up to me saying that she had math hagwon, so she needed to leave now. I told her no and that she needed to help clean. She half-heartedly moved the broom around a couple of times, declared her area clean and wanted to leave, which again she was told no and to clean better. Eventually everything was cleaned and they left, but not before she voiced some complaints about having to stay and clean.

Supposedly she hit some of the older girls, she apparently told another student that nothing would happen to her if they complained about her because she’s a fourth grader and she’s small and cute. Which they rightfully complained that if they did what she was doing, they would be in so much trouble, but they never see or hear her in trouble.

Other than her, the rest of the kids are good and fun to be around. When I see them happy about learning a new word or being able to communicate a thought into English, it reminds me why I decided to switch to teaching.

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