Day two with my new 4th graders went even better than I could have planned. I cleaned up my computer and didn’t have random pop ups in the middle of my lessons; I knew who was a girl and who was a boy and even remembered a few names! The presentation Mike & John (my team leaders) prepared continued along smoothly and helped my class generate a set of rules before laying down the 4th grade law.
We used cupcake analogies to portray our 1-5 grading system and allowed the kids to get creative and make their own comparisons. I had dilapidated cars (1 for needs improvement) turning into hotrods (5 for excellent), flip phones transforming before my eyes into low end smartphones and eventually a Galaxy 4s! This was a clear favorite among the students and I will happily be able to refer to it when grading and explaining grades.
Today included Miss Nelson is Missing and provided the opportunity for me to read another chapter in The Witches. All of that was pretty normal for a 4th grade classroom. I expected these changes and embraced them as I began to embrace my new students and the challenges that we will face together. After all I’m no longer working in a glorified daycare but rather a renowned private school!
The biggest change I noticed today was after the students had left. We had a full team meeting including our 4 Korean counterparts. Luckily one of the admins acted as an interpreter, but, as soon as we sat down (I’m ashamed to say) I got a little anxiety! At my last job every meeting with administration ended poorly. We were yelled at and blamed for things outside our control. I was accused of lying and threatened with deportation; unfortunately that was the norm for myself and the other 10 foreigners. Every time we needed a translator lies were told and we later discovered important info that was skimmed over. I developed an unfortunate skepticism for Korean businessmen and administration after my horrible hagwon!
I kept this to myself, trusting in my veteran coworkers to vocalize any concerns. Most of the meeting was the Korean teachers making sure that we were on the same page. In fact, very little new information was dispensed in the meeting. We made both sides aware of a few deadlines, some scheduling issues and shared classroom etiquette. Extra attention was paid to advance notice regarding plans and changes (something that has appeared to be a luxury so far in Korea.)
Despite having a perfectly friendly and professional relationship with everyone involved I continued to find myself skeptical of translations. Wary of the words coming from my Korean counterparts I forced myself to push these thoughts from my mind and leaned on my team lead while remaining silent. Before long the meeting was over and I quickly realized that this new unexpected hurdle, this unfair prejudice that my previous boss instilled in me would be one of my toughest challenges in the coming weeks!
I want to end it there but I’ve gotta say that I love my new job and all my coworkers! I know that this prejudice is unfair and am confident that my new colleagues will help prove just how false of a picture my previous administration painted for their brethren. Oh, and I love that the Korean’s opened with “4th grade is best team!” Clearly we are all on the same page.