It has been a pretty good day. I was wondering how seeing the city hall class full of pouters and ingrates was going to be, and I braced myself, but it turned out well. Then I breathed and carried on. I am feeling fine.
It's quieter outside because of the rain that discourages the rowdy students from taking the road from campus down to the subway station. I'm enjoying the sound of the rain and the absence of the excited cacophony of students.
Before I attended the morning class with the city employees, I had an action plan ready. Figuring that we are halfway through the program now, and that evaluations have just been done, I thought it was time to shift gears. Originally, I was told to play some TED videos and have discussion. A coordinator applied the misnomer, "Media Class," to this class, while, in reality, we have been examining some contemporary global through listening to TED Talks and reading a few news articles. I have just been picking the videos, previewing them, providing an introduction at the start of each class, explaining some concepts and vocabulary, then having the participants view and listen to each lecture. After each presentation, I have given them some prepared questions for pair discussion. I've thrown in some news articles prepared for English language learners when there has been time for extra vocabulary and comprehension building. They seemed to have been engrossed in the lectures and articles, so I thought it would be okay to continue using them. However, I created a scheme by which to turn things around. I am having individuals pick and introduce TED Talks each day, and having others in the class compose questions for discussion. I can sit back and evaluate them. I told them I would mark lecture summaries and question-making. The participants all accepted the plan, after some weighing of the matter. We had further discussion about why it might be helpful for them, city employees with advanced English skills, to be familiar with global issues and develop their communication skills as well. After that review and planning session, I had articles off the internet to view for today, and they were on our current themes of environmental conservation and health.
I had been prepared for anything, especially in the event of the failed outing last weekend when I dropped out upon seeing their frowns and not hearing a "hello" greet me. As you may recall, I had planned the outing, a walk and picnic lunch at a lake, for several weeks, but some of the group balked at the last minute and wanted to change the event, and grumbled. I went there, gave one final assessment, and, in an instant, departed to enjoy a robust hike in the fine weather and scenery on my own. Nobody mentioned the incident today. Rather, they appeared sheepish, but not upset or anything. Just one woman looked glum and could not look at me; she is one of the leaders in the bad attitude department, and I expected her to appear indignant. I sense that she is one of the sources of negativity, and I think it was a good thing to jostle her seat up there on her high horse. As for me, I felt I retained control of the class, showed them I have a strategy, and came up with a solution as to how to move things forward. They seemed pleased about the programming, at least. What's more, I even heard a couple of "thank-you's" as I was leaving the classroom today. What do you know?
What I have not yet mentioned is that, on top of the conflict over the outing, I had received their student evaluations of my teaching earlier that week. The evaluation scores were okay, but I was irritated by two sets of their scores. For one thing, they gave me a low score for my marking of activities. Since I have not assigned any work or marked them on anything so far, I was a little peeved. I guess, though that they were wondering what I was going to rate them on. I only gave scores for participation, for which they all got scores in the upper 90's if not 100%. The only other thing I could evaluate them on was attitude, and I did. I thought it was time for somebody to actually show them that their attitude is a problem. Another low score was on my preparation. What? I spent time selecting and previewing materials, preparing questions, and finding supplementary articles and worksheets. I have always had something ready and arrived early. Receiving both these low scores was perplexing and annoying.
For the scoring, I cannot blame them really. The source of the problem is the lack of programming. The coordinator just told me to present and lead discussions on TED talks, without any other instructions. Neither the teacher nor the students were equipped more than that, until I began to turn the activity into something constructive. I spoke with L, and she said that she thought that the lack of instructions to teachers and shortfall in the programming is a general problem.
After that class, I went back to my class. I had purchased rice rolls (kimbap) as I was supposed to hang around to meet a student at one o'clock. When I got back to the class and sat down, I felt exhausted. I was extremely hungry and tired. I guess the drama or potential for drama with the civic employees had an effect on me. I was more emotional about it than I had anticipated. I was glad to have gotten through that morning, and it took me a while to recover.
The student did not show up on time, and, without any messages from her, I left to go for a swim. L, my office mate, sent me a text later to say that the student showed up around a quarter of an hour late. I will deal with that another day. Anyway, I took the bus to get to the pool. I had thought I might be feeling too tired for the bus ride and a long swim, but the swim did me good. It was as crowded as usual, and difficult to maintain a swim for up to 1000 meters. I think I got in 700 meters today, all the same.
My French "cousin" came to talk to me at lunchtime. He invited me to join him and other friends of ours for a brunch on Easter Sunday. We did this once before. We like to go for a fancy buffet meal in a nice place for Christmas and Easter. This group are Catholic except for me. Few people do anything special for Easter, other than the Orthodox Christians like my Russian women friends who traditionally enjoy a big lunch with congregation members on Sunday. For me, a special meal on Easter Sunday is a tradition, though it would normally be dinner. We go for brunch to get the same sumptuous fare at lunch prices.
I was thinking of throwing in the towel and canceling the potluck dinner that I proposed two weeks ago. I invited our "Namsan High City" colleagues/neighbours to eat and socialize together, and thought they might like to do that on the Easter weekend. It is not a holiday here, but it is the weekend at the start of midterm exams when teachers can kick back while the students buckle down. Once I checked our Facebook group page and saw that five souls have indicated a thumbs up to the potluck dinner idea, I decided to go ahead with it. I won't devote as much personal expense and effort as last time, though, In fact, I am proposing we hold the part up on the communal balcony on the ninth floor. On the group page, I asked the "yeas" to choose one sort of dish or other to bring, so as to make sure a meal will be available. I only offered to prepare a grain dish, folding table and the disposable dishes.
Two parties on Sunday. Yea!