Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another Top 5 List

As promised, here's the Top 5 Things I do NOT miss about the US.

1.  I-95 - Almost every day for the past 7 years I would have to drive this nightmare of a road.  Sometimes just to Viera and back (35 miles or so) and sometimes to Palm Bay  and back (50+ miles) when I was a Tech Integrator working in the south area.  It was NO FUN...constant construction, tourists, idiots texting and driving...SUCKED!.  Here is Daegu, I have a 2 minute commute...walk out our dorm room and into the classroom building.  If I forget something...who cares?  It's a TWO MINUTE WALK...sweet!

2. Political Advertisements - I am pretty caught up in politics...especially in this election year. I read political blogs, and keep up with the election news every day.  But it is so incredibly wonderful to not have to see the constant barrage of political ads on TV.  They are hypocritical, self serving, truth avoiding pieces of crap that add nothing to the issues debate that should be front and center in this election.  And with the SCOTUS decision on Citizen's United, the spending on these by outside groups is sickening.  But here there's no hint of any of that...and it is AWESOME!

3.  PGP's, CCSS, IPPAS, ELL, etc. - We are really fortunate to be working in a private school with a Headmaster and Principal who's educational philosophy can be summed up this way; "We hire great teachers and let them teach".  There is ZERO (0) micromanaging in our classrooms.  We do not have to write the lesson objective on the board every day, no word walls, no lesson plan templates...we can focus on our subjects and really teach.  It is so refreshing.  There is a curriculum that we follow, and in AP courses we have to follow the College Board guidelines but that's about it.  It's a wonderful thing.

4. Student Attitude - The students here are far from perfect.  They act very immature sometimes and their work in not always great fact sometimes what they turn in looks disturbingly like what a lot of my students at Cocoa High used to do.  Pretty horrible.  But the one big difference between the students in Korea and the students back in the US is the attitude.  If you ask students to do something...or to stop doing something, they will do it.  No questions asked, no "Why are you picking on me?"...none of that stuff.  And they know how to do fractions...

5. Cubicle Madness - I was the Secondary Math Resource Teacher for Brevard County last year.  It was not a great experience for me.  I really liked and respected all the people I worked with at ESF but the job itself was not really a good fit.  I never really felt like I did anything that made a difference for the students and teachers in Brevard.  The job was more about meetings, curriculum  questions (what if a student took Liberal Arts Math, Informal Geometry, Applied Math 2 and Analysis of Functions...does he/she have the correct math credits for Bright Futures...WTF?), State mandates (if a student gets a 17 on the ACT what College Readiness course does he/she take?).  It was not much fun.  Teaching math here is Daegu is a LOT of work, but unbelievably rewarding.  This feels like a good fit!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Top 5 List

Top 5 Things I Miss About the US

1.  Family and Friends - I miss everyone a lot more than I thought.  It's hard to believe but even though Jean-Paul and I were never really close, and there were many things about him living with us that made me crazy, I really do miss him...and Carla too.  Not to mention Chris and Tammy, Donna and Will, Christy and Loran, Kat, Alberto and Beevee, Cindy, Pam, Tam, Rebecca and Karen...the great people we worked with at MIHS and ESF...I can keep going here. What about my sisters in STL...Jennifer, and Shelly and their boyfriends/husbands...and Alec Ates...he is awesome!!
It's great to be able to Skype and to see what's happening on FB but not the same as being with the people you love.  We have made some driends with the teachers who are here at DIS but it's not quite the same...Love all of you guys...Sappy, I know.

2.  Our Favorite Restaurants - El Tucan, Cedar's Cafe, Chili's (I would kill for one of their Black Bean Burgers), Buca de Beppo, California Pizza Kitchen...we are absolutely dying to have one of those amazing meals.

3.  Bright House Cable- OK I'm a TV addict I admit it and Korean television is pretty awful.  Weird game shows, horrible K Pop Karaoke, endless commercials and soap operas that make the novellas on Univision look like Masterpiece Theatre.  I was able to download a program called Graboid on my Mac that allows me to download movies and TV shows so Nancy and I were able to watch Breaking Bad, Louie, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo...thank God!  No CNN or MSNBC so that is a bummer.

4.  My House - We are living in a really small dorm room here at the school.  Advantages - it's at the school.  Walk 2 minutes and you're in your classroom.  The cafeteria is right here at it's right down the street from an awesome park with incredible running and hiking trail...and best of all, NO RENT!.  Disadvantages - it's 2 minutes away from your classroom, there are students who are everywhere, it's very sparsly furnished.  I think about how incredible our house is since we remodeled and it makes the dorm living tough...but once again, NO RENT!!

5.  The English Language - I really thought that more people would speak at least a little bit of English here...but that's not the case.  We really struggle to communicate (we carry around a little laminated card that explains in Korean that we do not eat meat) and all of the signs on the businesses are in Korean script which bears no resemblance to our alphabet.  You are walking down the street and passing shops with absolutely no idea of what they are selling or what is going on inside.  Many times there is a bit of English thrown in so you can get the gist...for example a small restaurant that sells beer, and coffe...or last night we saw an Italian Restaurant that specialized in speghetty.  I don't mean to sound like the typical Ugly American...almost without exception the people here are very very nice and make a real effort to speak a little bit of our language.  And the little bit that they know is FAR more than the 3 - 4 Korean words that I have mastered...

Next time...Top 5 Things I Don't Miss About the US