EPIK Orientation Winter 2015: Part II

The EPIK! ORIENTATION! OF EPIK-NESS! continued pretty much as planned. I heard rumors of some people coming back after midnight curfew, possibly after having drank beer, or something equally scandalous. Since I am quite responsible, I was of course in my bed by 11:45.
February 22nd
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Sunday was another 12-hour day of lectures and Korean classes. I survived by buying many americanos from the nice Korean barista and justified it as “practicing my Korean.”
Sunday involved:
-The most hyper “Co-teaching” demonstration I’ve ever seen. For those at home, “Co-teaching” is two different teachers in the classroom at once, working together. Because the EPIK!Orientation! was intended to pump up us newbie teacher, said demontration involved  perky skits and happy simultaneous language games and more. My Spanish co-teaching experience was often more like: “You take that half of the class and make them speak English for 25 minutes while I review for midterms next week–then we’ll switch off.”
-In Korea, schools have English “camps” during their summer and winter breaks. Guess who runs these camps? ME!
-A realistic and snarky lecturer: No, your students DON’T care about you–they’re teenagers! No, your coworkers won’t spend hours planning with you–they have paperwork!
In Korean class, we attempted to learn the alphabet. Well I already knew most of it, because I’m THAT special. To motivate us, our fantastic teacher decided to treat us like her usual students–who are kindergarteners. It worked surprisingly well and everyone loved getting cookies as bribes. I fed mine to my roommate…
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February 23rd Field Trip to Jeonju
Because spending entire week trapped inside a compound is depressing, even for the organziers, we had a field trip to Jeonju mid-way through our EPIK!ness Orientation. Some poor people were…less than thrilled about spending hours on the bus. Because I’m a nice and compassionate person, I laughed at their hangovers! How do you say “hangover” in Korean? Must find out… Jeonju has a lovely traditional village, as well as  a beautiful palace. We were herded around, lectured in Korean (which no one understood), and got to make tasty snacks!
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I decided to spend my day taking cute pictures of myself 😀 Oh and also shopping, watching all the Korean couples with their selfie sticks, and devouring food!
February 24th TaeKwando Day
After we survived our field trip, it was back to the 12-hour training days. To kick things off, we had a Taekwondo lesson taught by some members of the Korean National Team. Since it’d been about 10 years since I’d done anything related to martial arts, this seemed like a potentially hilarious morning. I was not disappointed. After my colleagues and I had recovered from falling on our asses (yup, quite a few people did exactly that), we proceeded to sit through a couple more workshops. Note to self: wearing legging to Taekwando class was an excellent idea! Next time I should remember that I sweat a lot and pack my normal work out clothes; sitting through workshops in sweaty leggings is less than fun.
Day ended with more Korean class. I was attempting to memorize phrases that refused to stick in my brain. Apparently Korean sounds don’t want to anchor themselves in my brain. Bummer…
February 25th Lesson Prep Day
The majority of this day was spent frantically lesson planning to get ready for our end-of-training presentation. And by “frantically,” I mean smugly.
My partner and I planned a ton, then printed everything out, then practiced. And THEN we realized that the day was only half over. So we chilled and avoided our coworkers.
(Lesson learned from high school: Being smug about finishing early is a good way to get punched)
We also had a workshop on Classroom Management, otherwise known as “Don’t Kill your Students–that’s Illegal.”
February 26th Lesson Plan Presentation Day!!!
This is the day that everyone freaks out over. And honestly, it was fun and very easy. But then, I’d taught in much more stressful environments than a practice classroom (protip: when your “students” are native English speakers with a teacher’s interest in learning, your lesson tends to run as smooth as possible). We presented our lessons to a group of about 30 teachers.
Honestly, the worst part was planning how to condense a supposed 45-minute lesson into the 15 minutes that they gave us. Someone mentioned that I was really loud, which I’m sure comes as a great surprise to anyone who knows me…NOT. In general, I’d say that everyone at orientation was overly freaked out about the demonstration. But that did make for good presentations because no one in my section was half-assing it. Still, here’s a few suggestions for anyone who may be freaking out over a similar situation.
Lesson Demonstration Tips:
-Simplify your lesson: only pick the most interesting part of the assigned sections
-Plan everything! What you will say, what your partners will say in response, how the room will be structured, how you’ll attract attention when switching activities.
-Allow some flexibility: you don’t have to have the entire lesson memorized.
-Limit any worksheets. Getting access to printer when the entire orientation wants it is gonna be stressful.
-Try to be creative but keep it simple
-Be diplomatic: you’re going to be planning with 1-2 other people. Not everything can be your way (this is great practice for working with a Korean co-teacher later, so they tell us)
February 27th DONE!!
It’s not really accurate to consider the 27th a part of EPIK! Orientation–by 9 a.m. every had been ceremoniously shoved onto a bus and sent to their respective cities.
Well, almost everyone… Because I am special, I was left to my own devices when it came to getting to my new city.
Long story short, I work at a “national school.” Which for the purposes of getting to Busan meant that I was responsible for getting myself to the city–no crowded 4-hour bus ride for me! (Can you tell how sad I was?)
This meant that I hauled my giant suitcase and 2 backpacks to the Daejeon train station and hopped a high-speed train down to Busan.
Training was over and I had arrived!

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