Tuesday, September 18, 2007

sleep deprived and soon to be observed

After a semester with the world's easiest schedule, I find myself knee-deep in lesson planning and wading through a fog of sleep deprivation. I've had no trouble making it to my 7:40AM class ten minutes early every day so far, but because I still haven't managed to get to sleep before 1:30AM (old habits die hard), life is slowly morphing into "Fight Club." Don't be surprised if I actually start founding Fight Club branches all over Seoul and Pusan.

Also in the news is the fact that we are going to be observed by our supervisors for the first time since I began working here. I'm actually not against this; as I noted to one supervisor, I was observed four times a year while teaching high school French in Arlington, Virginia: a certain Mr. T would do one observation (T was always friendly in manner and lenient in his criticisms); our department head, Madame M would do another (she was usually a softie as well, focusing on positives); the old battleaxe from the main office, Sister L, would do another (her notes tended toward the picky); finally, our principal, Mr. B, would strut in and do an observation. I was around 23 years old at the time; the first few observations made me a bit nervous, but because they happened once per quarter, it was possible to get used to them.

I've since discovered that there are some teachers who absolutely fear being observed. Not to put too fine a point on it, but in many cases, this is because those teachers suck at what they do. Other teachers, however, are quite self-confident and feel perfectly at ease with an observer in the classroom. I'd like to think I'm one of those, and I have the pleasure of working with Korean and expat colleagues who are the same way.

I think confidence is at least partly rooted in the quasi-fatalistic realization that no teacher will ever teach an absolutely perfect lesson. The whole point of the human project, as I see it, is constant self-improvement. This means that, at the end of the day, you can look back on what you've done and feel some satisfaction that things went well... but that tomorrow will be even better. Of course, it doesn't always work this way, but over time, you notice that experience is the best teacher, and if you've kept your eyes and ears open, you'll have made yourself aware of your mistakes and then done your best not to repeat them.

So Thursday is the day we get observed by our department head. My immediate supervisor (a new lady) will be coming to see all my classes over the course of a week (probably after our long Chuseok break); I've given both ladies packets of course materials for them to look over and digest in preparation for their observations, and have made it known that I'm available to talk shop with them at the end of the day. I don't think a teacher needs to be quite that prepared, but I'm hoping to send a subtle message to my observers that, as Robin Williams said, "Ah'm ready fo' yo' ass!"


1 comment:

  1. First rule of Fight Club: Don't fucking blog about Fight Club!

    You're making up for this at the next meet...



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