Monday, July 04, 2005

return to Smoo: the first day

Today was hectic. It began after I pulled an all-nighter-- not by choice, but simply because I couldn't sleep. It's the same way I started the previous semester.

I got to the Smoo office very early, with the intention of making a mess of photocopies... but there was no paper in the copier. I hunted around the empty main office (this was at about 6:50AM) and finally found some paper stashed close to one of the laser printers; there was just enough for my purposes.

My morning was lighter than anticipated because they canceled one of my classes. That sucks donkey balls because of the damage it does to my overtime pay. Smoo's contract has us working up to 18 class hours a week, plus five office hours. If we go over 18 class hours, we get overtime (not time-and-a-half, as in the States). On the summer schedule, everyone works well over 20 hours, so I was expecting a good chunk of cash. Now, alas, I have to scale my budget down by several hundred dollars next month and the month after.

But the classes themselves were all right today. Both my morning classes are small: only about three to five students. That's fine with me; a cozy environment keeps the stress level low. I also had the pleasure of meeting two new co-workers, and they seem like fine people.

The afternoon was hectic. We're supposed to be teaching intensive-level courses then, but today was devoted primarily to level placement interviews. I was in charge of entertaining the students as they waited their turn to interview; we did a bunch of different icebreaker/mixer activities, all of which went pretty well, but the room itself became deathly hot from all the talking and moving about. My colleagues had the unenviable task of interviewing about 70 students in an hour, which isn't easy. The office staff then had the equally onerous task of placing those students in appropriate classes, assigning classrooms and teachers, and informing teachers of where to go. Silly me: I hadn't planned on teaching a class in the afternoon, but that's what we did, sweaty and tired from interviews and icebreakers, from about 3PM to 4PM. I let my students out early because I had nothing planned.

Smoo students (and some male students from other colleges) take intensive classes more seriously than regular English classes because we give grades and tie those grades to an attendance requirement. I'm hoping there'll be much less skipping in the intensives, though I fear what might happen in the regular classes if even one person starts to skip. Momentum builds quickly; one skipper tacitly encourages others to do likewise.

So my days promise to be busy, but I can always look forward to the three-day weekends. Plus, we're getting three days off in August, one of which will be Korean Independence Day, August 15.

EPILOGUE: I came home around 6:30PM, dead tired. Fixed myself some leftover home-made fried rice (it tasted much better after I'd added extra mushrooms, egg, garlic, and plain rice), downed two bananas, drank some cold water, then opted to take a two-hour nap around 7:30 before getting started on paperwork. The nap, unfortunately, extended an extra hour, so now I'm once again a bit behind with daily planning. This'll all smooth out by next week. I hope.

It actually feels good to be active again. I had a very restful month off, and now it's time to work. Many thanks to those who privately sent me well-wishes for the new semester. It promises to be fun and challenging.


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