Friday, July 26, 2013

Fan-tastic Friday

I love Friday activity days! I relish the time spent with my students simply laughing and enjoying English together. Each week's theme rotates from classroom games, to cooking, group games, and crafts. For today's craft project, we made paper fans. If you have experienced July's humidity in Korea, you understand the significance of these cute yet essential creations.  My classes were small today, as many of the students started summer vacation in the last few days. They have off for a few weeks, and were very envious to hear how much free time kids in America have during the summer months. hehe

Here are a few shots of our day! (Courtesy of my iPod - I, yet again, left my memory card in my computer at home. haha)

Here is my fresh-out-of-phonics class! They are are each
so unique in personality 
but seem to be learning quickly 
(and are as cute as can be).

Here is Allie, one of my highest leveled students. She actually lived in the U.S. with her family for a short time when she was younger.
She and her classmate Sally are always a highlight of my day!

 I could blame the mess on the kiddos...but this is exactly what my table looks like every time I stamp or scrapbook.
I mean, the mess is half of the fun, right?

My weekend agenda:
- The daunting task of writing report cards
- Begin shifting living space to make room for new teachers!
- Prepping for Tuesday - vacation begins!!!!!!

Shalom, ~Kate

Sunday, July 21, 2013

101 in 1001

I love lists. 

I have daily to-do lists, lists of people I need to call or write, (never ending) lists of books to read, lists of verses to memorize and situations to lift up in prayer - apparently, I have a list of all my lists, too. hehe  The actions of both writing and rereading lists helps me stay focused and get things accomplished. They help me to prioritize and remind me to consider what is truly important.

This week I discovered a project called 101 in 1001. It started with an online community, but I am pursuing my project independently. 101 goals within 1001 days - that is 2.75 years.  Of the 101, I have written about 30.  I want to have some goals that will carry over my year in Korea, bridging life from here to home, and wherever I will go next. Some to-dos are pretty sort and simple, some will take time and hard work. Some require saving money, some require spending. But after talking with a friend about this project,  I was convicted to make my goals as purposeful as possible. Sometimes I find myself  spending more time thinking about ways people can love me than I do thinking about ways I can invest in people by loving them more. I want each of my goals to somehow be connected to enriching the live of another and to reflecting the light of Christ.  The more life I experience, the more I come to realize how unfulfilling it is to live for myself.

The chorus of a favorite Jenny & Tyler song, Do Not Follow Your Heart, has been on my mind constantly the last few days while beginning to write my 101 in 1001:

Do not follow your heart
If it means you're going to settle when you know there's something better now
You'll be falling apart
Don't you keep holding the lesser when you know it's going to let you down
You are leaving your mark
What you want them to remember when you're gone and can't pretend anymore
What you've loved and you've lived for ~

With those words in mind, the following list serves as a preview of the full project that is to come: 101 goals in 1001 days. Though some goals seem pretty simple or self-seeking, I am adding to the challenge that each task be somehow connected to encouraging, inspiring, enlightening or blessing those whom God has placed in my reach. For some goals, this will require much creativity.  But if I am going to do this, I want to do it the right way. 

  1. Finish a baby quilt
  2. Open an Etsy shop 
  3. Plan a “1st sleepover” with my nieces
  4. Read the complete works of Jane Austen (0/6)
  5. Send flowers to someone who needs a pick-me-up
  6. Memorize the book of 1 Peter
  7. Learn how to play Chess
  8. Teach someone a new skill
  9. Learn the art of book-binding…and share!
  10. Set aside time to seek out and build relationships in my community
  11. Take a palates/yoga class
  12. Research counseling masters programs country-wide
  13. Sew 5 new items of clothing (0/5)
  14. Pick 5 months to pay double on student loan payments (0/5)
  15. Take a local “just-for-fun” course to learn a new skill (swing dancing/ glassblowing/baking)
  16. Host a chocolate-tasting party
  17. Run a 5k for a good cause (because I think that’d be the only thing that would motivate me)
  18. Mentor a middle school girl(s) after school each week for a semester
  19. One month dairy/meat/gluten-free
  20. Build something (wood and power tools to be used)
  21. Day trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
  22. Pick local fruit to can
  23. Go on a multi-day-long hiking trip
  24. Grow a plant from seed
Please feel free to comment thoughts or ideas! I would love some feedback.

Shalom, ~Kate

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Week Recap

It's raining outside, as it has everyday this week. But unlike every other day, I have nowhere to be. What an incredible feeling! Though humid, the rain carries a cool breeze through the apartment, which is so refreshing. I have spent the day catching up on my favorite blogs, flipping through a great read and dreaming of potential ministry opportunities here in Korea. What a prefect day.

A quick week-recap:

1. I have a new niece - Lillian Grace was born Saturday, July 6th. She is 6lb 11oz of beautiful! 

2. I got my first mail from home!!! Those who know me well know just how exciting that really is (I had to refrain from using 10 exclamation points above, haha).

3. As a extension of orientation, I was observed one class everyday by Karen, the head teacher at Connexus. Her thoughts and advice were very insightful and tangible. I am learning so much about the kind of teacher I am and want to become. Which is exciting!

4. Since we have a constant stock of bananas at home, I made banana bread two days in a row this I had missed baking! 

5. This weekend was our staff retreat. Even though most of us already live together, it was refreshing just to have some new scenery!  We stayed in two condos in Yangpyeong, playing some intense games of Dutch Blizt and 4-in-a-line and eating more food than necessary. Saturday we rode rail bikes; sadly I didn't take pictures because the fear rain.. Which, as any other time I decide to leave my camera behind, I soon after regretted.

I cannot believe I am about to enter week 3 of teaching. The time is flying, and I plan to make the most of it!

Shalom, ~Kate

Monday, July 8, 2013

First Week of Teaching

My first week completely flew.  Preparing lessons each day took me so long, as I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to type, print, copy or grade anything. hehe. It is a hard perspective sometimes, but I am trying to see my effectiveness as a progress, rather than current lack of perfect!

Here is a very basic idea of what a day looks like in the life of a Connexus teacher. I will fill in with more details later...but I'm afraid this post will be far too boring and straightforward as is ;)


9:30-10:30am ~ Head to the office 
Not all the teachers and staff leave at same time, so transportation varies. I like walking, but it has been so hot and rainy, the 20 minute walk is just not appealing! Sometimes we ride in one of the staff vehicles, sometimes the bus. Public transportation is fairly easy and an inexpensive option.

10:30-1pm ~ Preparing for the day
This time at the office is good for planning, making copies, grading, or Skyping home (the internet is clearer there than at the apartment).

12:30 or 1pm ~ Lunch
In pairs, were are each assigned a day to make lunch for everyone at the office. We make American food or Korean - it's all good. Fridays Annie and I cook together.

2:30-3:20 ~ My 1st class 
Yu-Na (9), Martin (8), Joy (11) & Judy (8)*
This class of 4 students just graduated from Phonics and is my lowest level. I have to use lots of expression and pictures. They can answer basic questions such as "How are you?" or "What is your favorite color?" but cannot answer why questions. They like to move (as do I), so I try to incorporate activities that get them on their feet.

3:30-4:20 ~ My 2nd class 
YeEun (9), Lucy (8), Eileen (8) & Simba (9)
This class of 4 is 6 units ahead of the previous. They are more confident and open to trying new things in regards to English. They love telling stories, and I love listening...but sometimes have to put a time limit on it, especially for Lucy - the girl loves to talk. It's a great "problem" to have. Plus, how many people can say they teach a child named Simba?? hehe

4:30-5:20 ~ My 3rd class 
Carl (10), Triston (12), Si-Yeon (11) & Min-Seo (10)
This class is in the next level.  Their English - reading, writing, speaking and comprehension - is much higher than the first two.  Sometimes in conversation I forget they are still only level green (the second level) and ask questions that I afterward have to rephrase because the questions are too difficult. But it is easy to realize when this happens, as all I have to do is look at the four blank stares that are before me. hehe They are sweet and very well-behaved. 

5:30-6:20 ~ My 4th class 
Veronica (9) & Kipper (9)
This is the highest class I teach. Beginning next month, I will need to create the Storybook curriculum** for this level (two lesson plans a week). These two are so sweet and energetic. I am often surprised at the deep thoughts they are able to express.

6:30-7:20 ~ My 5th class 
Allie (11) & Sally (11)
These girls are absolute angels.  We have really connected and they share a lot with me. Though they are the same level as Veronica and Kipper, they are two years older and can express themselves well. They love hearing about life in the United States and how it is different from Korea.

7:20 ~ Head home!
It is like a mad dash out the door. We are all so eager to leave and pretty hungry by this point of the evening.. Once home, we don the PJs and grab some food (we'll sometimes pick something up on the way home).  Evenings are usually very relaxed - reading, watching movies on the projector, blogging, eating and just hanging out.

* Age is measured differently in Korea - I have included the Korean age of each student, but according to age in the West, they are all one or two years younger then what you see here.

**We use two curriculum: Storybook on Mondays and Thursdays, Backpack Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Fridays are activity days, which we rotate each week between classroom games, cooking, crafts and group games. It is so nice to have this time simply focused on building relationships with our students and giving them opportunities to really enjoy English. 


Biggest lesson of the week: 
Children are such humble learners. I want to be this way, too! 
The more I am able to humble myself to learn, 
the better teacher I will become. 

Up for the challenge. 

Shalom, ~Kate

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Power of Words

When you open your journal to write about your first day of
teaching and find a note a dear friend had hidden over a year ago..

When after only a day of teaching one of your students writes this for his homework...

So thankful for this reminder from the Word!

Make an effort to share kind words today.  I assure you, your work is not in vain.

Shalom, ~Kate

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Kate Teacher" - First Day on the Job

First day of teaching is finally complete. I have been waiting so long for this!  While nerves were absolutely present the last few days, today I was just ready to get things rolling.  Since we use two different curriculum, one on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other Tuesdays and Wednesdays, tomorrow will be yet another new adventure. But now, knowing my students so much more than last week of observations, I have assurance that I am prepared.

I cannot tell you that my students learned a thing today, but goodness, did I!  I decided as I anticipated this day, that my goals were to be flexible and to love well.  I would like to think those goals were reached, and their fruit being far above any academic achievement.  While no five of my lesson plans were taught quite as I intended, I learned the things I need to work on and the actions and attitudes I must strive to continue.

This conversations nearly brought me to tears, serving as a reminder why I am here. It went like this...

(when my class of two settled in their seats)
Me: "How are you today?"
Students: "We are happy...and excited!"
Me: "Wow, really? Why are you both happy and excited?"
Students: "Because you are our teacher!"

Yes, I almost lost it. How can I possibly teach these incredible children all they need to know?!  Maybe it's not about what I can do though.  Honestly, I hope there is much more to this journey than that.

Here are a few pictures to sum up my day. I hope you enjoy!


Here is my classroom. I love the blue walls and teal chairs - such a happy-looking place!

Two of my highest-leveled students. The girl on the left brought us all milkshakes...
Did I mention I have awesome students??

Rough picture, since I set the camera to timer on my makeshift tripod
(ie. a swivel chair on top of the table)..but I wanted one from my first day. haha

Shalom, ~Kate