Monday, January 6, 2014

Gratitude and unexpected moments

Today was one of those days.  You know those days.  The kind of day where you just want to scream.
So I have a co-teacher at my school.  If you teach English in Korea, you have a co-teacher.  Some co-teachers are wonderful.  And some are not.  My co-teacher is a wonderful person.  But as a teacher?  Not so much.  She's 24 and has only been teaching since March.  Yes, she was trained for teaching special education, but teacher training in Korea is um...uh...not very good to say the least, at least not compared to the training I've had in the states (and continue to have).

However, it's her classroom, and I am her "paraprofessional" and basically do what she tells me.  It is not my classroom, and therefore I cannot teach the way I want to teach.  This is definitely teaching me patience.  I've been teaching 15 years.  I know how to teach.  Nevertheless, she talks to me like I'm a child and has me teaching using methods that I do not agree with.  Today I wanted to scream.  She went over her plans for me for 10 minutes...reading and pointing and asking me, "Do you understand?"  It makes me want to scream.  It's been hard going from being a classroom teacher where I made all the decisions as to how I would teach my students to being a teacher where I have to do what she tells me.  "Angela, can you read this sentence?  Can you read it slower?  Like word by word?"  "Angela, can you ask them what is the day today?"  I've learned to just smile.  You know...nod and smile.  Nod and smile.

Teaching at my school is hard.  Challenging.  Very difficult.  My students are not only visually impaired or blind, but they also have moderate to severe learning disabilities AND they barely know any English.  I have brought picture books, music, songs, games, etc to the classroom, but there are some days that I feel like I'm so ineffective.  Some days I want to scream.  Some days I want to cry.  And then some days there are unexpected moments of happiness, laughter, and joy.

As hard as it is, I know God placed me at my school for a reason.  He knew exactly what He was doing.  And my job is to trust him.  So I trust him.  I trust him on those days where I want to scream.  I trust him on those days where I want to cry.  And I am grateful for this experience.  How many people can say that they have taught English to blind children in Korea?

I called a friend last night to ask her a question (she's a fellow English teacher in Korea), and we ended up talking almost 2 hours and 30 minutes.  We were sharing our experiences and talking about the way that God has worked in our lives.  It was a blessing.  Such a blessing.  Don't you love conversations like that?

One day, I will look back on this experience and be so incredibly grateful.  I will remember my students with fondness.  I will remember singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes".  I will remember hearing "nice to meet you" from my students in the hallway even though I have taught them for 4 months.  I will remember these moments, and I will smile.  I will be grateful for this amazing experience.  And I will know that I was absolutely where God wanted me.

Anybody else out there ever felt this way?  Where you've been in a difficult situation but you knew that God placed you there?  Sometimes we don't know why.  We don't see the big picture.  But he does.

Last week, I had those unexpected moments of happiness, laughter, and joy with my elementary classes in winter camp.  The co-teachers I was working with (different co-teachers) let me do whatever I wanted.  And we had a fabulous time!

We started off doing simple exercises to fun upbeat music from my iPod.  I brought my little speakers, and we had a blast.  They LOVED it!  And they learned simple words for movement.

This is my first class of 5th and 6th graders.

 Then we played Hot Potato.  When the music (again using my iPod and speaker) stopped, whoever had the ball had to say a sentence in English.  Some of the ones we've done are:
- I like to eat _____.
- I _____ at school.
- My name is _____.
- My favorite animal is _____.

This is my 2nd class of 3rd and 4th graders.  They barely know any English at all.  But they sure did love the exercises.  And by the way....I wondered why I was sore the next day.  Haha!

Both classes loved, loved, loved Hot Potato.  I have never seen them smile or laugh so much in the classroom.  It sure did make my heart smile.  I want more of this.


  1. Wow! Sounds tough. It definitely will be an experience that you'll look back at and be amazed at how God worked.
    Good on you for giving something like this a go!

    1. Thanks! It absolutely will be an experience I will never forget.