Saturday, January 16, 2010


Last week I was working at an English camp at a nearby Elementary school.  I did a camp at the school last summer and I liked the kids a lot, but the school was not well organized and I decided I would not do a camp there again. A month ago the Vice-Principal of my school asked me to help the elementary school.  I agreed simply because the VP has always been so nice to me and I like him alot.

I was told they would provide the lesson plans and another teacher and I would just teach.  I got the lesson plans and they were in Korean. Not easy for me to deal with, but I had a meeting scheduled with the school a few days before the camp and I would get things cleared up then. I went to the meeting with a colleague, and we were alone...not as an effective meeting that way. I hate shooting from the hip in class because it goes badly too often, so I spent the weekend preparing lessons.

I got to the school a half hour before the lessons were to begin and nobody was there.  Crap.  I finally found a computer dude who did not speak English and asked for the keys to the room, and he said he gave them to a kid.  So I started looking for a kid with a key.  No luck.  15 minutes before class began, I return and he remembers that he did not give the key and he had it.

10 minutes before camp is to begin the kids are showing up but not the other teachers.    I ran across the street to my school and asked if someone could call the Principal for the Elementary school.  Finally, I got a call at 2 minutes before, "Where are you Steve?".

I have a bit of an obsession about being late and I am in full stress mode because the camp is supposed to begin at that moment.  I run into the teacher who is just walking into the school, "Hi Steve",  I was just thinking, "You have to be kidding me".  We got to the classroom on time and he says, "Let's have a meeting". Of course I thought this was an excellent idea, but the week before, not at the start of class time.  We had a short meeting and got on with the camp.

One of my real weaknesses is I am a bit of a perfectionist and I want things done orderly and properly (which means the way I want of course). This means it is difficult for me to collaborate on anything.  I hate this about myself.

The camp finished and I reflected back on things.  I wonder how things would have gone had I not prepared everything. In the end, the kids had a lot of fun and learned a lot.  Once we got past me being frustrated at the start, the teacher and I got along pretty well.  I know that he is a good teacher and he just likes to do most things off the cuff.

Korea can be like that teacher, freewheeling unplanned but somehow things work out.  I guess I have to adapt.

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