*I had two things I was planning to post before this but I was too lazy to finish them haha
Teaching at Gakri Middle School was the first job I ever loved. In college I worked in a research lab for credits and after college I worked as a pharmacy technician for CVS. Working in the secluded setting of a research lab I realized that although I liked reading and learning about molecular biology research, doing it as a job was a long process that I personally didn’t find particularly motivating nor gratifying. CVS on the other hand put me in a fast-paced work place that required satisfying the needs of what sometimes seemed like swarms of patients/customers. Although some interactions with customers were indeed pleasant and gratifying, it was a stressful environment that wasn’t enjoyable and wasn’t the kind of job that allowed me to take time to be creative in solving problems. While I learned some things about research and retail pharmacy from those two jobs respectively, in the end, I could never really put my heart into them.
However, while at Gakri Middle School I had the ability adapt lessons or even creatively make my own (these were fresh changes after spending four years in college with a major that emphasized memorizing huge amounts of information), and most importantly, I wanted to become a good teacher for my students. In trying to become a good teacher for them I had to become better at presenting myself (in terms of outward appearance and behavior), I acted more confident which eventually turned into real confidence, became more active than passive, taught myself how to act like an extroverted source of energy when I was really an introvert, became better at lesson planning, became better at balancing and distinguishing between my patience and passiveness, and found myself thinking about a lot more people than I was ever used to.
Part of the reason that I thought I had to leave Gakri, besides to try to keep myself from growing complacent and stagnant, ironically is because I was scared of loving it too much. I remember when I worked hard to learn every students’ name by jotting down every small interaction with students in my notebook or phone, giving them nicknames that would help me remember them, memorizing seating arrangements, and going over students’ names in my head as I taught each class once per week. By the third week or so in my second semester I had virtually memorized all of the third grade girls names who I had taught since the beginning. When my last semester came, I became more lax on this partly because I was leaving soon and partly because I was afraid to care too much.
In trying to become a teacher, I had to become a student in all fields. The things I learned in school and the changes I went through there would pervade into my everyday life, and moreover, I couldn’t face my students if I didn’t practice what I preached. In part because of my students, continuing my Korean studies even after more than three or four years self-studying kept on being a rewarding experience. Nothing was more fun and gratifying than using the Korean skills I had tirelessly learned to connect to students, to mingle with them, to tell them dumb Korean jokes, to talk to students that struggled with English, and to relay our thoughts and feelings to each other.
Tomorrow is the day I start working in my new school at 청주고등학교 (Cheongju High School). It’s a renowned all-boys high school in the center of Cheongju. The prospect of teaching at an all-boys high school can be a bit scary considering the stories I’ve heard and the fact that it will be completely different from teaching some of my sweet middle school classes. However, the fear I have most is that I won’t put in my all, the way I did when I first started teaching in Gakri. I can’t let myself become complacent and I can’t unfairly compare my new students to the ones I’ve had years to get to know while at Gakri. I should meet them with the same open-mindedness, curiosity, and unconditional love I had for my old students. So here’s to a new semester and my final year in Fulbright Korea. I hope to end with a bang and to use everything I’ve learned thus far and all the changes I’ve been through to become the best teacher I can be in my new school.