Another School Year Begins…

It’s raining.  Again.  I thought I would be grateful when the weather started to warm up; I can’t wait to stop wearing my long undies under my work clothes!  But it has gone from COLD and sunny (with clear blue skies, and temperatures that make you catch your breath when you step outside) to damp and rainy.   I think I prefer icy sunshine to having my fingers go pruney from the moisture in the air.

For the past two weeks, I have been doing what we affectionately call “desk warming.”  The school was on holiday but for reasons I suspect will forever remain unclear, I was not.  And so I came to school, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm to keep my desk warm.  There were no other teachers in the staff room, and the security guard looked surprised to see me.  He looked surprised every day, even though I tried in my rusty Korean to explain that I would be coming in every day. 🙂

The library was open, and various clubs and activities were meeting on the first and second floors, but way up on the fourth floor there was only me.  When I sneezed, I could hear it echoing down the empty hallway.

At a workshop I attended a few months ago, the speaker told us that we shouldn’t get angry or frustrated by the amount of desk warming we would undoubtedly do.  Rather, we should consider ourselves as being paid to be available.  I liked that.  It made my days spent in omphaloskepsis (Google it.  At least I learned something in my 2 weeks!) seem somewhat worthwhile.  If there was an English emergency, or a linguistic conundrum, I was available to solve it!

At some point last week ( I don`t know which day, they all blended together), one of the music teachers came in to the staffroom.  Was I needed?

“Oh!  Carrie-teacher! Why?”

“I’m here every day.”

She expressed her sympathy, denied have an English emergency, and told me there was a meeting for all teachers the next day.  Excellent.  I wouldn’t understand anything but it would add a bit of variety to the day.  And perhaps someone there could use me;  I was available.

The next day, I arrived at school in “school clothes” rather than the multi-layer homeless person look I’d been sporting to stay warm at my desk.  It was the first staff meeting of the new year and all of the new teachers had arrived.  The meeting wasn’t as long as anticipated and before I had a chance to even think about falling asleep, we were all back in the staffroom.

I looked at the new teachers and wondered who my new co-teachers were going to be.  I had worked with 5 co-teachers previously but 3 had moved to new schools.  First things first however, who was going to sit where?

I don’t know why I was surprised but I was.  Of course they would use Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide the order in which we would choose our desks.   16 people put their fists in and I got confused.  I have no trouble when it’s 2-3 people playing but I don’t know how they do it when there are a whole lot of people playing.  How do they know who the winner is?

I just kept sticking my fist in.  When a smaller group broke off (they were either the winners or the losers battling out final rankings), I joined them.  Should I have?  I didn’t know.  Did I know if they were the winners or the losers? No.  I just kept sticking my rock in with the other rocks, papers and scissors, and hoped that eventually someone would tell me what to do.

“Carrie-teacher! You can choose 4th,” someone announced finally.

When it came my turn to choose which desk I wanted, I opted to remain in my current desk.  I hoped I hadn’t stolen away someone’s dream desk location with my lack of rock, paper, scissors skills.

And then everyone went home.  I was left, sitting at my desk all alone, wondering who my new co-teachers were and what grades I would be teaching.  I decided to use the time profitably and find a new chair; mine was uncomfortable and listed strangely.  Feeling a bit like Goldilocks, I went around the staffroom and tried all the chairs.  If I had to sit there all day, I might as well be comfortable.

Yesterday was the first official day of school.  I hoped I wouldn’t have classes but I wasn’t sure.  I didn’t thankfully.  Instead, we spent a good part of the morning cleaning the staffroom.  This involved vast quantities of Wet Naps, and a vacuum cleaner that belched out more dust than it sucked in.  It also meant all the windows were opened.

“New teachers, new air!” I was told.  That was lovely in theory but the temperature soon reached levels polar bears would consider chilly.

The internet hadn’t worked for my last two days of desk warming (and who could I tell?) so I had already cleaned my desk quite thoroughly.  I’d even taken out my desk drawers and wiped them down.  But when you live in a group society, you need to fit in.  And so I found myself once again wiping down my desk (with a frankly absurd number of Wet Naps), simply because everyone else was.  I now have a VERY clean desk. 🙂

I also met my new co-teachers.  This year, they have given me more classes (which is great! Less desk warming time.) and fewer co-teachers (also great.  Lessens the confusion.).  I will be teaching 9 classes of Grade 4, and 12 classes of Grade 6.  I will also teach an after-school class of Gifted Students.

“But, Carrie-teacher,” my main co-T muttered, lowering her voice and looking around. “Maybe they are not really gifted.”

I can’t wait to find out what that means. 😀

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About Carrie K

Teacher, writer, traveller. Slightly neurotic. Overly talkative. Loving life. You can also follow me on Twitter: kimchigirl72
This entry was posted in Education, Korea, Korean schools, Taehwa, teaching in Korea, Ulsan, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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