Get Up & Grow

"We're adults. When did that happen? And how do we make it stop? "

Sail

I’ve decided to delete my teacher Facebook account. It’s just too much. I realized that I am depending on my former students to validate me. I am obsessing over the thought that their new teacher is better than me….that she is giving them all of the things that I couldn’t. I need to step back and take a deep breath…remember that it was ME that started that program and I did a hell of a job. I not only taught them about dance but I also made them want to be better people. I care about them. I was an amazing teacher to them.

So…getting off of there will make things better. If I’m not constantly looking at pictures from their latest show or thinking about what I’m missing out on, I can move forward. I will keep in touch via email but that’s about it. There is no reason for me to have one foot in my new world and one foot in the old one. I have to let go.

I think that part of the problem here is that when it comes to my new world…there is still so much that I don’t know. So much is still being decided and I really hate not knowing where I am going and what I ultimately want to do with myself. I know that it’s my dream to open a dance school but until that dream can happen…what will I do? I know that I don’t plan to teach English in public schools forever. University I could stand to do for a bit but…once I finish this counseling degree…what then? Will I go into counseling? Go for another degree? Hell, two weeks ago I was sure I wanted to change my program of study to TESOL and the only reason I didn’t was because I’m in the middle of a financial aid year. Then I decided that I will stick in there with counseling. It isn’t easy but I am genuinely interested in it. The thought of helping families and couples through therapy really appeals to me.

Here I am…I am finding that the closer I get to 30…the less I know about what I really want to do. This is a really scary place to be right now. I think that I need to let go of any notion that 30 is the magic number and that I must have everything figured out by then. I need to stop planning and start living.

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May 3, 2012 Posted by | Affirmation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Updates on A lot

So I’ve been an awful blogger recently. It was mostly because of my vacation though. I am so glad to be home and away from the person I was traveling with. The dog and I both lost some weight while I was gone so that’s all good. I have pictures but they are on my home computer so I will definitely move them over here to WordPress when I get a chance.

I’m back in the saddle at school…for a week. The strange thing about Winter break is that we come back for one week in February to wrap up our last lessons before the 6th graders graduate at the end of the week. Then, we are out of school for another 2 weeks for “Spring Break”. When we return in March, it’s a new school year and everyone has been brought up a grade. I did all of this planning for this week and we really aren’t doing anything. I won’t see the 6th graders, I only got to teach one 5th grade class ( tomorrow I only see two 5th grade classes and they are both watching a video with my co-teacher), and I won’t see my 4th graders at all either. So that means that I taught I class so far ( which was more like just a word review game) and I will teach my four 3rd grade classes on Wednesday. That’s it! I am happy to have a light load this week but I’m also a little disappointed because I planned some great lessons for them. But, this week I will be focused on making changes to the discipline system of our department and planning the first month of lessons for the new school year in March.

I’m still not dating and I haven’t really missed it at all. Had one person who didn’t want to take no for an answer and had to be really stern with him. I am too focused on other things. I am plugging away at my Counseling courses and have started TESOL training as well. (I’m almost halfway through with it and should be finished by this time next week!)

I have made the decision to give Korea another year or two of my life. I will not know until the last 2 or 3  months of my contract if I will be asked to return so I’m looking into other options as well. I am going to see what’s up with the private school that I really wanted to work for before. The hours are longer but there are more foreigners there and the kids are extremely talented in English already. At this point, I’m not going to look too much outside of Korea. I think I want to stay here for a little while, save some money, pay off debts, and enjoy this relatively stress-free life. I at least think I want to stay here until I finish my current degree program. I can’t see myself trying to work in the States or anywhere else that would force me to work crazy hours or do a lot of work outside of the work day and studying as well. I did it with the first Masters degree and it just about drove me mad. Why not make things easier or myself?

My next break, I will go home to see my family and friends. (Summer) Next winter break, I am going to shoot for Japan or Thailand. Those were the places that I wanted to visit this time and got shot down by the chick that I travelled with. ( Well if I can’t see any of the places that I’m interested in, don’t be surprised and mad when I don’t really want to do that much sightseeing!) If I have to, I will travel alone. I don’t care about going alone and I’m smart enough to stay out of harm’s way.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my passion. The more I think about it, the more I think that I don’t really have one anymore. Dance burned me completely out and while my most important and lasting life goals are tied to dance, I think that I did the right thing by taking a break. I have tried many things that other people are passionate about but I can leave or take them. I want to find something that I love so much that I want to do it all the time. I want to be good at something. I guess I will continue to search.

Meanwhile…the novel was put on super hold…and other novel ideas are coming to me. I think that I just need to take some time and outline this thing and finally decide on it before I start trying to write it. I am getting so far away from my original concept and that’s totally ok…

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Affirmation, Bitching, iWrite, Less than 3 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Until your well runs dry…

 

The following is a status update from one of my former students in Arizona:

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iReally Miss Ms. Harper Dude, iWas Actually Switched Out Of Dance For Second Semester Because It Wasnt Fun For Me Anymore, But After iGot On Staqe And Got To Dance By MYSELF. iRealized iBelonq In Dance And iKnow Ms.Harper Wouldnt Want Me To Give Up Because Of Some Teacher. Ms. Harper Yu Tauqht Me To Believe In Myself And Always Be Open To New Types Of Choreoqrapy. Everytime iWalk In The Dance Room iThink Of Yu :] iJuss Want To Say Thank Yu Ms.Harper Yu Made Me A Better Dancer And Helped Me Get Over My Fears ♥ iLove Yu And Miss Yu :]

****

This really made my day when I read it and every time I go back to it, it brings tears to my eyes. I have heard from a lot of my former students since I have been here and many of them did not completely understand or like me when I was there but now that I’m gone, they have a better understanding of why I did the things I did and who I really was. Now that they have a teacher who doesn’t seem to really care about them as people, they have come to see that everything that I did was out of love and consideration for them. It’s a bittersweet moment because I don’t want them to have to deal with someone who doesn’t care but…I think it’s a lesson that they needed to learn. So…maybe they will learn to appreciate the people in their lives before they are gone. ( Even if they don’t totally understand them.) I also think that the other people in the school…the admins and other teachers….have come to appreciate me more as well.

I really love everything that this message stands for. I am thankful for a lesson learned and for the affirmation that I made a difference in a child’s life.

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Affirmation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Be The Change…Pt.1

We are coming to the end of the Korean school year and I have been thinking a lot about some changes that I would like to make in the way we teach English here. I’m not sure if my ideas will be met with resistance but I’m certainly not going to hold back when it comes time to talk about this. Here are my thoughts….

#1. Voice level- the children in this school ( I won’t say all Korean children because I don’t know it for sure) are allowed to run up and down the halls screaming and yelling all day long. There is never any control over noise here and it grates my nerves. There has been some progress with two students who liked to scream their way through class but students are still coming into the room using their “outside voices”.  I’d like to put a system into place that will remind them that they are inside and that they need to come into the classroom calmly instead of running and screaming. I was thinking maybe a visual like a stoplight would help. I remember in Elementary school, it would get loud in the cafeteria so they got this stoplight. It would flash red when we were being too loud, yellow when we were in danger of getting too loud, and green when we were quiet. I think that if I can connect that with some kind of point system, it would work great.

#2- Rewards- Speaking of the point system… Right now, what we have is a board with Groups 1-5 on it. ( The students sit in groups.)  When a student or the group answers a question correctly or does something good, they get a smiley face next to their group’s name. When a student or group does something wrong, they get their smiley taken or if they dont’ have any, they get frowns. As it goes right now, at the end of every class, we see who has the most points and each member of that group gets a piece of candy. Ok, that adds up to a lot of candy that we are having to buy with our department money and the kids are only motivated to do things when points or candy are involved. On top of that, they have started to feel as though they are entitled to candy. I do not like the attitudes that they have developed as a result of being given candy every single time.  I would like to do a sticker system and make a big sticker board for each grade level. After each class, the group with the most points will get a sticker on the board. At the end of the month, the group with the most stickers will get a prize. ( Maybe a grab bag, maybe candy, maybe a gift certificate, maybe a pencil-case with pencils/pens/erasers in it….it would be different every month) If they are ungrateful for their prize, I will give it to the 2nd runner-up.

#3- Manners-  I have noticed a lack of manners here. Simple things like saying  “Thank You” when someone gives you something, and being silent while the teacher is talking are not really talked about here. I want to make manners part of the curriculum! Each week, I want to emphasize something new and make it part of all of my classes for that week.

#4- Hands to yourself!- Kids here are allowed to hit and kick each other in school. Teachers do not scold them for this unless they are actually wrestling or in the teacher’s way. In class, students are slapping each other, chasing each other down,etc. This has got to stop. I can’t stand watching that and I think it’s part of the reason why there are so many couples out near the bars on the weekends beating each other  up. These kids are not taught that it’s wrong to hit each other. When we start back, I want us to put a stop to it by making it part of the point system or having some kind of punishment for it.

#5- Consequences- There need to be consequences for acting up in class. I want to make a flow chart in English and Korean to put up in the classroom so that they will know exactly what will happen. We will all have to be consistent too and follow it. Some kids do not care about losing a smiley face on the board or standing in the back of the room. There need to be real consequences for bad behavior and part of it needs to include calling parents! I am going to start pushing for more contact with parents when students are acting up or doing really well in class.

#6- High Expectations- I want to encourage my co-teachers to set higher standards for the students. They need to push the kids to do more instead of letting them be lazy. They need to let the kids figure things out for themselves instead of giving them the answers. This is going to be one of the first things I will bring up in our meeting ( the one I’m going to call ASAP). I am tired of them making up excuses for lazy kids and whispering answers to students who are capable of thinking for themselves.

So….this is a start…and I haven’t even started talking about the things that I want to improve within myself to be a better English teacher. That will be another post for another day!

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Affirmation, Bitching | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding my Passion

I recently read a blog post from Curiousity Killed the Kat in which she asked what her readers were passionate about. I can come up with all kinds of generic answers that involve different aspects of my life but when it comes down to it, I come up short. I have realized recently that I am not really passionate about anything anymore. Sure, there are things that I want to do and things that I enjoy doing but when it comes to having a burning desire and love for something….I just can’t think of anything.

When I was teaching dance, I would say that dance was my passion. I never took master classes or brushed up on my technique outside of my classroom so I really don’t think that it was dance that I was passionate about. I think that what I really loved was the opportunities I got everyday to change the lives of my students. I loved watching those students who came in with a stank attitude become beautiful dancers. I loved knowing that students who had a hard time in their other classes thought as my class as a place to let go and express themselves. I am very rarely able to talk to people about my job as a dance teacher without shedding a fear tears for the sheer joy that it brought me.

Another possible passion of mine is love. I am passionate about relationships. I am totally clueless about what it really takes to have a successful relationship. Ok….strike that….I KNOW what it takes but the challenge is breaking through years and years of learned behavior to become the woman that I need to be in order to have that successful relationship. So I would say that I am passionate about anything involving love. So that includes romance novels ( esp anything paranormal like vampires and witches), weddings ( and wedding planning), dating, sex….the list goes on. This is part of the reason that I have decided to write my own romance novels. I have spent so much time living through the books of others and I’d like the chance to write some of my own ideas into a book.

I think that another thing that I love is learning about other cultures. I like to learn languages, dances, customs….you name it. Traveling will become a hobby of mine now that I am over here and in a position to go places.

Cooking is something that I also love to do. I love to learn to make dishes from other countries. Cooking as become a way for me to take my mind off of everything. I love that my skills are growing and that I can cook delicious meals for others. Another aspect of this is the fact that I now have more in common with my mother. I can share recipes with her and talk about what works and what doesn’t. This is really important to me because for so long, I felt like that was something she and my sister had in common and I was left out. I have come to realize that my connection to my mother is really important to me.

Hmm…I guess I am passionate about some things. I want to get more involved with a few things as well. In this list, there is photography, physical fitness, healthy living, and crafts like knitting and crochet. I’d also like to have more of a social life. :0) Maybe next time I answer this question, I will be able to add those things to the list of things that I am passionate about.

Well…gotta teach this last class of the day. ANOTHER open class today….BLEH.

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Affirmation, Less than 3 | , , , , , | Leave a comment