Friday, 14 February 2014

Tell me why, I don't like [desk-warming]?

The textbook and teacher guide for 5th grade
and my trusty 
Essential TEFL
It's that time of the year, the dreaded desk-warming time of the year. School is out, camps are over but your job is not done. What seems like a pointless exercise is indeed upon us. You sit at your desk for around 1-2 weeks and try to find a way took busy. One of my friends, Chasing Glitter, posted a good amount of suggestions about what to do with this time for Reach to Teach. It got me thinking about why we have this time, what are supposed to do with it and how it is usually spent.

Firstly, this is not a blog post criticising anyone on how they spend their desk-warming. Goodness knows I haven't utilised my time very well in the past. This post is only to give you an insight into how I best believe I can make a difference in my time during desk-warming. You can choose to follow my new example or you can do whatever you want including what I used to do which was to spend a lot of time on Facebook, Imgur and Pottermore and watching  How I Met Your Mother. Whilst this latter suggestions sounds like an excellent idea right now, I don't believe it suffices for me. Firstly, I've seen all the episodes, sometimes several times, and I am completely caught up on nearly every single show I like. I suppose I could start a new one, but do you know just how addicted I am to TV as it is? I can't find room for a new series! In fact, the only reason I started watching Agents of Shield with any regularity is because HIMYM and Psych are coming to an end.

My first period of desk-warming was way back in August 2012. That was so long ago I can barely remember what I did. However, I also only had about 2-3 days and I spent the time I had working on blog posts, preparing what I could for my first week of classes the following semester and playing around on Facebook and catching up on the aforementioned TV show. A lot. I think that is also around the time I heard of Lamebook and I spent way more time on that site than I ever should have. My first winter was a long one and both before and after I went to Vietnam, I had way too much time to kill. That's also when I was introduced to Imgur and Pottermore. If you are a Harry Potter fan this last site is amazing, time consuming and way too preoccupying. I did spend some time preparing things but I wasn't really sure what my role was going to be and, in fact, two of the teachers changed their minds on how they wanted me to participate once I was actually in their classes. The little preparation I did didn't benefit me much! I also spent some time working on my blog. Which brings me to August 2013. I spent quite a bit of time on my blog, very little time on Pottermore and little to no time on any other sites that weren't school or blog related. I was a lot more prepared for my classes and it made a difference for me.

To that end, I am starting my desk-warming on Monday. What will desk-warming 2014 bring me? What changes to my lifestyle do I want to make and what can I do to improve my time? To begin, I spent quite a bit of time in between camp and classes (I am on double duty this week) reflecting on why we have this time. Yes, in many ways it is pointless - if I were able to be at home I could go to the bank, clean my house, catch up on laundry and maybe go on a visit to some interesting place in Korea. However, most schools require their teachers (English and homeroom teaches alike) to spend time in school. During this week, most homeroom teachers know where they will be assigned when school starts back up in March, so they will spend that time clearing out their old room and/or setting up their new room. Time will be spent on lesson planning, and if it the summer, evaluating the materials and lessons you have left for the remainder of the year. For us NETS, the time goes very slowly. A week spent at your desk and not teaching is interminable.

This time is, ostensibly, to prepare for your camps/future classes and if you are not renewing your contract preparing things for the incoming NET. However, there is only so much time you can spend on these things. They are times when you need a break. This is where I have had trouble in the past. Either the break from lesson/camp planning becomes the main focus or I just don't ever get really started on what I need to do. I've thought long and hard about how I want 2014 to pan out. I want to be in the TEFL game for a lot longer than I have been thus far. This means that not only do I need to "up my game", I also need to be on top of my game. I think upping your game is really important. Whether you are here for another month, six months or several years, why not up your game? It benefits everyone, especially you.

Whether you like teaching or not. you are here to do a job and I know, from personal experience, giving 100% is so satisfactory. Therefore, for 2014 here are the 5 things I want to accomplish during this years desk-warming:
  1. Plan my afterschool lessons. For my phonics lessons prepare worksheets, games and ppts that can be used for any number of students. (1 hour per day)
  2. Talk to the home-room teachers once I know what classes I will teach and plan my textbook lessons using original materials and adapting materials from (1 hour per day)
  3. Book and start my final 20 hours of my i-to-i TEFL online course to boost me from 120 hours to 140 hours. (1 hour per day)
  4. Start studying TEFL books for CELTA and/or TEFL Masters programs (1 hour per day)
  5. Reorganise my class room. Plan boards for each season and boards with target language from text books or the TEE book (1 hour)

You might think I'm mad not "wanna shoo-oo-woo-woo-woo-oot the whole [desk-warming time] down". However, by just doing these things I will have used up 5 hours of my 8 hour day. For the rest of the time, I want to work on my blogs (this and my new cooking one), work on things for The Sejong Dish, read and do something fun. I don't know yet what the fun thing will be - maybe planning my trip to Taiwan? Either way, I refuse to let the grass grow under my feet this year! And, I'll still get some relaxation time.

PS Links to the above distracting websites were not included because if I had visited any of these sites this post would NOT be ready to be published before the end of March! However, please feel free to visit them yourself.
PPS This post was inspired by my own experiences, the article linked above (click on Reach to Teach) and the Boomtown Rats "I don't like Mondays".

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