Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Camp 2010

The last two weeks were the winter camp sessions at my school. The first week I taught 4th graders and the second week I taught a mix of 5th and 6th graders.

Last year at my old school I taught camp locally and then for one week taught it up in the mountains. I liked those times because it felt like I was out of town at a resort while at the same time teaching kids. Since I don't work for the city that sponsors the mountain English camp I couldn't go this year.

To be honest this season's camp wasn't really a smash hit. I started this job in December and they didn't give us much time to plan for it. Also I had to take over the initial plans leftover from the teacher I replaced, which to be honest were really crap. Thankfully I had a lot of activities and games from my previous year teaching. There were some clashes when we were preparing materials. For example, my coteacher thought that the lessons for the younger kids were too hard. Her idea of camp was that the kids would learn a few sentences in one day and just do activities that made them repeat that sentence over and over. First off I agree with her that this will likely help them learn to speak target sentences but it doesn't really work for "camp" which is meant to be "fun and active" (Principal's words).

In other words, English camp is a puzzling scenario where you are put with a team of 20 kids for 4 hours to learn English. It is fun, though, because you get control of the class and can teach whatever you want.

The 4th graders worked pretty well and enjoyed the activities and games I used with them. Although there was a group of boys that pretty much ruined it for everyone with their constant talking and laughing. They also teased others when they spoke English so that was difficult. But I focused on the good things and had a management thing going on that eventually made them be good.

The 5th and 6th graders were a lot more advanced in their English capabilities and so enjoyed challenging games and fun role play activities. Also there were a team of boys who were the nerdy funny type of kids that made everyday extra special.

What I found most rewarding was when my coteacher would praise me for good work at the end of the day. As we know I am trying to get it right this time with my relationships at work and so this was a great bonus.

Now that winter camp is over I am already thinking about summer camp. I really want to make a list of things to do that are more fun and challenging. I could get this started but it isn't entirely up to me, for there is my other foreign coworker to help plan with me. Sometimes when I bring up requests to start planning future projects she tells me that it is too early. Maybe as we get back into the semester I will bring it up.

For now there are 2 more weeks to finish off the semester and then the 6th graders will graduate and the new term will start. I was told my teaching schedule might increase since more 2nd graders are coming in. I don't really want to teach more classes but one or two more won't really hurt. They just need to understand that the more time I am teaching the less time I have to prepare.

Also with the new semester coming there is a chance we will get new coteachers, which might be a blessing or a curse. I just hope they give us someone who actually believes in English education unlike the coteachers we have now. sigh~


  1. Planning for camps, winter or summer, more than a week in advance with the FOREIGN teacher involved doesn't happen except in the most rare and bizarre occasions in Korean public schools. I forgot about this fact and began planning stuff at the beginning of last December, and I even put on a winter camp workshop of my own at my school where 10 other foreign teachers came and we chatted and exchanged ideas....but I ended up having to scrap EVERYTHING I had planned and made cause my school changed up the camp idea and type of classes I'd be getting....

    Planning at the last minute is an art form in Korea, and one that any foreign teacher who plans to stay past their first contract pretty much has to become a master of.

    I am seriously considering changing my name to,

    Master of Last Minute Planning Jason

    Anyways....good luck with trying to get details planned earlier for the summer...but I wouldn't hold my breath that much cause it's not just your ONE co-teacher've also got other teachers, the VP, and principal all in the chain of those that can make or break advanced planning, and getting ALL of them to act in tandem with planning in advance is something I'd shocked to hear about....

    p.s. What did you use for classroom behavior management that helped you with the boys? That'd be something your readers want to know.

  2. Thanks Jason... that all speaks the truth. I think what I can do for now is just get a list of ideas going and resources to make sure I have something ready for when they ask me.

    And I should write up my management techniques too that is a good idea.


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