Yesterday, I taught my first class of Korean students at Camp Fulbright (a prestigious English camp for Korean students). Employing a mystery/detective daily theme, I used the popular American game and show Carmen Sandiego to teach about articles (words like “a” and “the”). Though the students were very quiet and well-behaved, they caught on very quickly to the use of articles when speaking and writing. At the end of my activity, I had the students write their own detective stories. Many students wrote a few sentences (#winning), but when it came time to share, they were very reluctant to do so in front of their peers. In this all-too-common student-teacher situation, I cold-called a student to read. He was a bit shy, but whispered, “But it’s not perfect.” I said that was fine, he stood up, and read his story. I congratulated him on a job well done.
However, this is often the story of Korean students. They strive for perfection.
In Korea, third grade high school students (seniors in the US) take a very important exam that essentially determines their career path and where they will go to college. High school students spend hours and hours at school and at hagwons (private tutoring academies) in order to achieve academic success. I have a high opinion of Korean students because of their dedication. However, this one moment admission of “It’s not perfect” opened my eyes to the stress placed on Korean students.
Maybe you can relate to this stress. You may not know it to this high magnitude, but we all know stress. Some of us desperately want perfect. I want to be a perfect student. I want to be a perfect teacher. I want to be a perfect Benedictine. I desire perfection. Despite my desires, yesterday I learned that it’s okay to be “not-perfect.” I will mess up as a teacher, but like my student yesterday, sometimes I’ll have to keep standing despite the odds. I’m looking forward to teaching and I can’t wait to dive in. But that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of not being the best, most perfect English teacher in the world.
When the future days sometime seem rough and I’m discouraged, I’ll remember the words of my student: “It’s not perfect.” Life’s not perfect and there’s no such thing as a perfect teacher or student. It’s moments like these that make a teacher’s world go ’round.
In other news:
I submitted my preference form and requested to be placed at an all-girls’ high school. However, I’m always subjected to the good Lord and Fulbright. I’m in good hands.
I’m working on another lesson plan for a new class next week. Let’s hope it goes as well as yesterday’s lesson.
It’s starting to get hot again here in Korea. It cooled off, but it’s getting crazy hot again. #fulbrightproblems
Fried egg sandwiches for breakfast. Very much a win.
Good morning American and geon bae from a different kind of south,