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Posts from the ‘Work’ Category

*It’s Been a Few Weeks.

Oh let’s see, as always, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this. January turned out to be a pretty eventful month. As if working two different jobs, being a full-time grad student, doing my teaching practicum, and having to move out of my apartment wasn’t enough, I also experienced running out of gas and having my wallet either lost or stolen (still not sure which). All of this happened during the first two weeks of the year, and the last two things happened within two hours of each other!

Luckily, I was able to get gas with no problem (thanks to AAA) and have pretty much taken care of canceling and replacing all of my cards, etc in my wallet. (I still need to get a new Blockbuster card and SPU ID, but neither of those are of immediate need). Also, the rest of the year since then has been much less exciting!

Work and school have been keeping me busy. I’ve officially been teaching for a year as of tomorrow, which is hard to believe! It’s true that experience is the best teacher. Everything I’ve learned in my TESOL program has been helpful, but being able to actually try out the methods and activities we discuss in class has been invaluable! I’ve definitely learned a lot (and, in my opinion, become a much better teacher) since I first started last February!

Since I came back to Seattle after Christmas I’ve been teaching my same Level 3 Intermediate class that I began with a year ago. I’ve had a fun, diverse group this year, including students from seven countries: Japan, Korea, Italy, Turkey, Kuwait, Libya, and Thailand. Tomorrow, however I’m moving to Level 4: Upper Intermediate. I’m looking forward to the change, although I’m sure a new level will present new challenges. Two of my current Level 3 students (from Turkey and Kuwait) are also moving to Level 4 tomorrow, so I’m sure it will be nice to have some familiar faces in the class.

My practicum has also been going well. I’m currently in the first phase of the two-phase practicum, which means I’m mainly observing the teachers. I do interact from time to time, acting as a teacher assistant of sorts. I’m available to answer questions and check classwork, as well as participating in discussions from time to time. As one of the students put it, they’re getting “two teachers for the price of one.”

Outside of school and work I’ve been busy doing… well, honestly, other than church, not much else. A couple of weeks ago I went skiing with two of the Italians I know here in Seattle (one former and one current student). We had a great time, but it definitely took me a while to get the hang of skiing again. (Thinking about it afterward, this was probably the first time I had gone skiing in eight or so years). I’m going skiing again in a couple of weeks with work as the “chaperone.” Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much!

The church I go to here in Seattle, Blue Sky, (which is actually in Bellevue and not Seattle) has been getting bigger lately. In fact, my “small” group has gotten quite big- we’ve had 17 or 18 people coming every week lately. Because we’re so big, we’re going to become two groups in a couple of weeks. Sam (the current leader) will lead one group and Mark (my former roommate Heather’s husband) will be leading the other. I’m still not sure which group I’ll be in, but I am looking forward to being in a small small group again!

Oh yeah, and for anyone interested in the status of my apartment, they finally started fixing it last Monday. I stopped by on Friday afternoon to see how repairs were coming, and was surprised to discover that the ceiling and one of the walls were completely gone! However, I was even more surprised (pleasantly surprised) when I stopped by this afternoon and found that a new ceiling and wall had already been installed, and the three holes in another wall had been patched. Hopefully this is a good sign that progress is being made and I’ll be able to get back in soon!

Alright, I think that’s everything for now; hopefully I’ll have a chance to update again soon.

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*Life, at the Moment.

study

Pictures from the Tulip Festival.

A Few Pictures of My Students & The Market.

The fieldtrip went well today; 13 of my 14 students showed up, and they seemed to have a good time using English outside of the classroom context. I created a short survey for them to give to a minimum of five people who were working or touring the market. As they walked around in groups talking to people, I wandered around watching from a distance. It was fun to see them chatting with the other people in the market, normally with smiles and laughs coming from both sides of the conversation.

After class ended I went bowling with many of the students. The school sponsors events on a regular basis and always needs a teacher or two to go along. This was my first time “chaperoning” an event, but I will definitely be doing it more often. Getting paid to go bowling isn’t a bad job! (Even if I had the all-time low score of 34)! Next week I will be going with some students and a few other teachers to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. What’s better than getting paid to lose a game of bowling? Getting paid to go to the Tulip Festival and getting a free salmon dinner out of the deal! Here are a few pictures from today; stay tuned for Tulip Festival pictures next week.

Inside Starbuck’s at Pike Place.
In Starbucks's at Pike Place.

Tough guys… but they’re sweeter than they like to let on 😉 .

Fresh veggies!

Posing after lunch…

“Being Teacher.”

The other night I commented to my friend Sam, who is about to graduate with a degree in teaching, that I had papers to grade and a lesson to plan- I had to go home to “play teacher.” He immediately responded, “I have to tell you something: that’s not ‘playing’ teacher; that’s ‘being’ teacher.”

And he’s right. It’s funny because even though I have been a teacher for over two months now, I still feel kind of like this isn’t really my job and I’m not really a teacher. I feel like I’m just temporarily subbing for someone, or maybe I’m here at an English school in Seattle just like I’ve been at English camps in Slovakia; it’s a lot of fun, but in a few more weeks I’ll be going home. That being said, however, I’m glad that this isn’t just a temporary job; I really enjoy teaching!

I enjoy planning lessons and looking through books trying to decide which activities are most helpful- and most interesting for my students. I enjoy getting to know my students and seeing their English improve over the course of time they spend in my class. I think the thing I enjoy most about the job is that even if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, can’t find anything to wear, miss my bus, and arrive at work half a sleep, in need of coffee, and in a very bad mood (this doesn’t actually happen that often), I am always in a better mood when I leave work than I when I came (even when I came in a good mood).

Of course, that isn’t to say that it’s easy. Teaching is more of a challenge than I expected, even with all of my experiences at the English camps in Slovakia, working as a conversation partner and tutor with the international students at USC, and all of the time that I have spent communicating with people who speak other languages. There is a big difference in knowing what to say and knowing why it should be said.

For example, did you know that, in English, you don’t use the progressive aspect with non-action verbs or that two-syllable adjectives that end in an “ee” sound end in -er or -est when being used as comparatives or superlatives, and that two-syllable adjectives that don’t end in “ee” have to use “more” or “most” instead? I would never say “I have been having a car for a long time now” or “He is the handsomest man in the world,” but before a few weeks ago, I could not have told you the rule that dictated why.

Grammar is not the only challenge. My class roster has the potential to change every two weeks, and it generally does. I started with nine students from six different countries; I now have 14 students, 11 of which are from Korea. The fact that most of my students are from Korea isn’t a challenge; they’re great students. So the other challenge? Four of my students are girls; the other ten are guys, all between the ages of 18 and 26. Haha, you can probably imagine the challenge there! (Notice I didn’t say a problem). Incredibly, they all listen to me, respect me, and stay on task. They also somehow manage to turn any grammatical concept we study into an opportunity for asking their teacher for her phone number, address, marital status, and different ways to express having a broken heart as a result of not receiving the aforementioned information!

Tomorrow we’re going on a fieldtrip to the original Starbuck’s and Pike Place Market. Yep, I’m in charge of taking ten 18-26 year old males to a fieldtrip at the local market- I’ll let you know how that goes, I’m expecting that it will be quite an experience!

Teaching.

Last Thursday I wrote that I had been offered a job as a sub that would become a full teaching job as soon as a new teacher was needed. Last Wednesday and Thursday I observed two Level 2 (low intermediate) classes and then subbed for one of them on Friday. That was my first official time teaching in a classroom with full responsibility. The class lasted for three hours but I felt like it went really well.

Monday afternoon, only 3 days after I subbed, my substituting job became a full teaching job (didn’t take long)! The program director called and asked if I would like to begin teaching a Level 3 class (intermediate English) ASAP. He combined my class with another Level 3 class on Tuesday and Wednesday and I observed the teacher. Today was my first day teaching my class and I loved it! I have a small class that is very multi-cultural. (Because of Seattle’s West Coast location, many of the classes are made up almost entirely of students from Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan). I have nine students; three from Korea, one from Japan, one from Taiwan, two from Colombia, one from Turkey, and one from Slovakia. Six of the students had just moved up to level 3 from level 2 and were students from the classes I observed last week, so I was already a little familiar with their names and faces.

I’m also really enjoying having a job that is located in an exciting part of town and that has coworkers close to my own age. Last night I ran into one of my coworkers while studying at my favorite Tully’s. Today I had lunch with a friend after work and ran into several students while walking down the street. I even ride the same bus as several of the students at the school.

I’m really excited about how well everything seems to be going so far; I definitely have a lot to learn, but I think this is going to be a lot of fun too 🙂 I’ll keep you updated.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

-M

A New Year, A New Quarter.

Hello 2008!

After a wonderful week visiting friends in South Carolina and spending time with friends and family at home in North Carolina, I’ve been back in Seattle for about a week now. I spent my first West Coast-New Year’s Eve at D-CLAM, a house where several of my friends from Blue Sky live. (Named from the letters that start each of the girls’ names, D-CLAM reminds me of the Duplex. It’s physically a much nicer house, but it seems to be the place where people are always dropping by and hanging out).

School started back on Thursday and I’m already back to studying at coffeehouses. (Speaking of, I’m currently at University Zoka, a local cafe near my apartment). I’m looking forward to my courses this quarter. I’m taking Morphology (the study of the internal structure of words), Syntax (the study of the rules that govern the structure of sentences), and Teaching ESL Writing. So far, Syntax is the only class that’s met yet. I’ll admit that syntax can be dull, but my professor is very passionate and excited about it, which should help. Additionally, I remembered one of the things I love about my program here while we were introducing ourselves during class on Thursday. In addition to the basic things like where you’re from and are you an undergrad or grad student, our professor asked us all to list what languages we had studied. It was really fun to hear the different languages that my classmates were familiar with (in addition to the standard Spanish and French, almost a third of the class had some sort of familiarity with Ethiopian and various dialects, and other students had studied everything from Classical Greek and Latin to Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic). I was surprised to realize that I’ve formally studied three languages now (Latin, Italian, and Arabic), in addition to all the Slovak I have learned through my friends.

I also started my new job as an English tutor for Microsoft employees and family members. My first student is a 27-year-old who just moved here from India. We met for the first time on Friday and I really enjoyed the brief meeting that we had. We’ll be meeting twice a week for the next ten weeks or so to work on pronunciation and conversation skills as well as idioms, slang, and business terminology. I just spent an hour preparing for tomorrow’s session, and I can tell already that this job will be very useful for me. Because I’m tutoring a student who is not taking English lessons outside of ours, the entire curriculum is up to me. I have complete control over which textbooks and resources we use, as well as what activities we do during the sessions. It’s a lot of responsibility (it’s much easier to tutor a student who just needs help on homework assigned by another teacher), but it should help familiarize me with many available ESL resources and also develop a collection of resources and activities.

Finally, I will only be working as a nanny for about two more weeks. After that I’ll need to find an additional job to complement the English tutoring. I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be working yet, but I have already started applying to a variety of different jobs- I’ll keep you posted!