Caveat: Classroom Chaos

Yesterday morning I did a demo teaching in a real classroom.   I felt very nervous.  I knew the job was a long-shot, and I'm pretty sure that the demo teaching wasn't, ultimately, a deciding factor, either way.  The fact was that the potential employer, a rather posh private elementary school in Northeast Seoul, seems disinclined to hire me due to bureaucratic obstacles (i.e. the complications of getting me a "fresh" E-2 visa by working with the Korean immigration authorities, as opposed to the convenience of hiring someone already on a valid visa, either E-series or F-series, where it's fairly simple to set up). 

I don't know why I was so nervous.  I think I had a pretty good lesson plan, although the main caveat (yes, caveat) would have to be that no lesson plan survives actual contact with children, at least not 100%.   And I'm experienced enough to know this.  The kids were first-graders – younger than most that I've worked with, at least in Korea.  But they seemed very entertained by what I'd put together:  I had them going around asking each other questions about what they would like to eat, based on the contents of a story they'd been reading that the school gave to me ahead of time. 

My thoughts:  probably, it was a more chaotic classroom than the Korean teachers were used to seeing.  I have always striven for a "student-centered" classroom, as much as is possible given any particular curriculum.  And since they'd only given me the story, without any other curricular guidelines, I simply did what seemed like the best thing:  make a lesson that kept the students moving around and talking in English to each other as much as possible, without worrying too much about "controlling" it. 

The result was apparent classroom chaos – any time you get a dozen first graders on their feet, you can hardly expect anything less.  But I saw two important things:  they were speaking English to each other, and they were having fun.  That, in my opinion, is success.  Hmm… I feel like I'm trying to defend myself, here.  And, as I pointed out at the top of this post, I don't think I need to – I actually think that they understood what I was doing and were not disappointed in it.  But I think, too, that they were just "going through the motions."

Hard to read the Koreans, on this matter – my Korean language comprehension is still quite weak, and I therefore don't pick up what they're saying to each other during or after the class with much accuracy or detail.   But I could tell the native English-speaking teacher they had watching me was cool with it – he was quite friendly to me after we finished, and said something like, "go ahead and just stay with them as long as you'd like," which was a pretty positive evaluation, I thought.

Conclusions:  I will only get the job if the school still finds itself without any other viable, "easier" candidate several weeks down the road and becomes "desperate" to fill their position.  Not to mention the fact that I'm still missing one piece of paper I need to present (it's in the mail, hopefully).   But, as far as the demo teaching, I was feeling pretty happy with it, afterward.