Monday, August 22, 2011

For the love of students

Past and present, I love my students. I am always a little apprehensive at the start of a new year. One never knows what each new class will be like. Even knowing who you should have, people can change a lot during a summer or with new classmates. After seeing each of my new classes and a lot of my former students I can safely say that I really do love my students.

In addition to thinking the world of my current students I have been in contact with some of my former students as well. I love to hear what my SKHS girls are up to, good, bad, and boring. I have had the chance to chat online with some recently and it bring me joy. Just a few minutes ago a graduate from the class of 2011 stopped by and talked with me for a few minutes. Tomorrow he will head off to the University of British Columbia in Canada. I feel honored that he would take a few minutes during this crazy time before his departure to talk with me. It may have been a accident as he was looking at the new gym and I just happened to be here, but I'll take what I can get.

And in other news, my birthday and birthday weekend were great. My birthday was filled with cake (homemade chocolate, homemade red velvet, and Costco sheet with a rainbow), friends, family (by proxy) and good times. My birthday was announced over the speaker system at the start of the day so students were extra nice to me (it helped that both of my senior classes got cake out of the deal). After school I was able to swim a 1/2 mile before going to Korean BBQ with the normal "meating" crew.

Friday night several of us went for dinner at Outback and then I stopped by the high school's "Night of hanging" (it was simply a new twist on Hangout Night). Saturday involved a working coffee morning with Steph at a new coffee shop in the neighborhood, watching House with the Walker's, and some serious BOC (my favorite bar) with the residents of B-12. Sunday started with church (the best start possible) and was followed by coffee, groceries, rooftop sunbathing, Burger King, the aquarium at COEX (manatees, penguins, and seals were some of my favorites), an iced chocolate, On the Boarder, and a sneak attack gift from SCUBA Poz.

All in all, it was a good 29th celebration. I can't wait to see what this year brings

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Registration Day

A week of staff days came and went. There were meetings, meetings, and more meetings. We did have a 1/2 day faculty retreat which was enlightening. As a faculty we met in small groups to discuss what it means to be "Centered in Christ" which is part of the school's mission statement. We talked about what that means to us personally and how it can be seen in our teaching. It was a good retreat.

One morning between meetings I was approached by a teacher I have known for the past year but had little personal interaction with. I have been wanting to get to know her and her husband better but there just didn't seem to be the opportunity. She invited me to join the Bible study she and some other young ladies are a part of. I was surprised and excited at the thought. Out of no where two of my desires seem like they will be fulfilled. 1. Getting to know this teacher (and some of the other ladies) and 2. Participating in a Bible study. I have been trying to complete the daily Mass readings, but that just isn't my meeting my Bible understanding needs. Mass readings give you a snapshot of a book in the Bible but can often be disjointed. I took my time in deciding if it really was something I can do this year. The Bible study meets on Thursday mornings from 7-7:45. As it turns out, Thursdays are the only days in which I have to teach first period and the day in which I teach 4 of 5 periods. Knowing that it will be a long day, I have decided that starting it with a Bible study is really the best choice.

Thursday night of last week marked the last "Meating" with all members present. Last year I became part of a going to have Korean BBQ (meat) every Thursday night. Over the summer one of the founding members decided to return home to be near family during trying times. He will be departing this week, so we had one last Thursday of good food and good times. Sunday night we returned to the normal restaurant with an extra 15ish people to have a farewell dinner. I am sad to see him go, but happy to have known him.

As a result of going to the farewell dinner I missed Sio's birthday dinner at On the Boarder, but I was able to spend some quality stitching time with her earlier in the day.

Having a social network already in place is one of the best parts of being a returning teacher. That and not having to try and remember every little detail about the school and living in Seoul.

Now onto current events. Today is Registration Day. Today is the day that all new students and parents come to school for a soft opening of sorts. The Head of School will formally welcome them and then they will disperse by division. The new high schoolers will be welcomed by the principal and the student council. The faculty will be introduced and then dismissed to our offices where we will wait for the students to be led around and introduced. Not too much stress which is good as I have a lot to finish before the start of instructional days tomorrow. I should have done a lot of work last night, but I was battling with my first batch of almond butter. What I learned is that I should roast the almonds in advance next time rather than attempt raw almond butter. In the end, after a lot of food processing (greater than 1 hour) I have a cup of almond butter sweetened with honey. While I'm not the biggest fan, my neighbor KC really seemed to enjoy it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Farewell vacation, hello school year

Today is the last day of summer vacation for SFS teachers. My vacation was remarkable. I spent time in Hawaii with friends, New York with family, South Carolina with family, St. John's with friends and finally Florida with more family. I went shopping, diving, and bike riding. I visited Busch Gardens, Carrowinds, a volcano and an aquarium. I had all of my favorite home cooked meals and went to some of my favorite restaurants. I saw most of my family, middle school friends, high school friends, camp friends, college friends, and teacher friends. I made the most of 7 wonderful weeks and now I am looking forward to the start of the school year.

Even knowing that exciting times lay ahead I am reluctant to see my summer vacation come to an end. Today I started to settle into my school year Sunday routine. I went to Church at the Cathedral and stopped for groceries on the way home. I did some laundry, school work, and worked on my latest crocheting project. I also spent time catching up with my friends here and swam .5 miles.

As a school teacher in Korea I have the chance to have 3 New Year events. I have a new calendar year on January 1 like the rest of the world. We celebrate Lunar New Year at the end of January/start of February in Korea. And now the start of the school year. In addition to new academic beginnings I am hoping to start some new personal habits. I hope this is the year of fiscal responsibility, home cooked meals, and time at the gym. So far I have been going strong and I hope I am able to continue the trend as the school year and all of the accompanying demands begin. I am lucky to be supported by wonderful friends.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Night and Day

Arriving in Seoul this year has been a completely different experience than last year. The transition has been much more relaxed. I am gearing up for the upcoming school year rested, settled, and mostly stress free.

When I arrived in Seoul (4:20 am) I discovered that the first bus to my school didn't leave until 6:15am. I was faced with the idea of waiting another 1.25 hours for a bus that would take at least 45 minutes to get me home. After almost 24 hours of traveling I was saddened by this thought. Much to my delight my buddies (Kristen and Youngin) were minutes away from the airport. Getting picked up in person is much more fun than a bus ride. I hope to return the favor one day.

Wednesday is a blur of jetlag, unpacking, and visiting with old and new staff members. I went with the new teachers to Homeplus where I was able to pick up some groceries and help them out a bit all while having a ride to and from school. It was a nice trade off.

After a good night's sleep Thursday started off with a visit to the school gym. I was expecting the same old gym, complete with little light, cramped machines, and awful paintings on the wall (a zebra playing basketball, the PowderPuff girls, and Superman). Much to my surprise the gym was completely redone over the summer. The area was expanded so more room and more natural light, the walls redone with mirrors and woodwork in place of the paintings, and more air conditioners. The new gym is much more pleasant to work out in and I intend to spend more time there.

Thursday morning involved a trip to Costco and Homeplus with two wonderful science teachers. It was nice to pick up the things I forgot the night before and to catch up with my friends. I was also happy to find that Costco has chicken sausage and turkey burgers for sale. Tonight Colleen and I are going to try and turn turkey burgers into turkey tacos. This could open up many more meal opportunities. This is actually the first time that I have seen turkey available in Korea aside from on base at Thanksgiving.

Thursday afternoon I ironed all of my wrinkled clothes and met with the new science teacher. She has her doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. From what I have seen we are going to get along great and I am going to learn a lot from her. We are meeting again today as an IB BIology department to discuss this upcoming year.

Thursday night my friends and I went for Korean BBQ. While our group wasn't complete (Nate and Megan have yet to return) it was nice to catch up over a great dinner.

Sleeping Thursday night wasn't as easy as I had hoped. I woke up a few times, but was able to get back to sleep after a short time. A good part about being jetlagged is that I tend to wake up very early in the morning so I have already been to and from the gym this morning. I feel I have been quite productive and the day is just beginning. Up next, coffee, breakfast, and time at my desk.

So far, this is a great school year in the making.