Monday, May 13, 2013

Open Class of Doom

True to form, and in keeping with the overarching theme of this blog, I gave myself a brain injury the weekend before my open class.

I was cycling to Korean class, and it started to rain. In a distracted in-the-cycling-zone mind space, I thought 'Hey, it's raining. Let me just rummage through my bag without stopping to check if I brought my umbre-POLE!'

Swerved to miss it, and my ear cushioned the blow. I bounced off the pole and landed in the road as the lights changed colour. A taxi politely honked 'Are you okay?' loudly at me and some bystanders stood by doing bugger all. Hopped back on my now lopsided bike and went to pre-class dinner. And I enjoyed the laser show that was flashing across my right eye.

No, really, guys. I feel fine.
Fact: Burritos cure concussions. Kind of.

I probably annoyed the crap out of everyone at Korean class. I was distracted but my brain was in overdrive so I was incredibly chatty. I wouldn't shut up. I don't really remember much of it. By the time I got out of class it was about 10pm and too late for me to go to the doctor. I didn't think of the emergency room - I may be a hypochondriac but I'm no drama queen - I'm more likely to moan about being sick than to actually see a doctor. So I went home.

That night I was scared of going to sleep because that's something they say you really shouldn't do with a concussion. Of course, if you live alone and have to be up at the crack of dawn to teach the next day, not sleeping is a bit hard. So I came up with a plan - I set my alarm at intervals and made a deal with a hagwon insomniac friend to check in with him every hour. My alarm is amazing - to turn it off I have to solve math problems. Little did I know that a piece of bone was pressing on the logic center of my brain, making it virtually impossible to divide 10 000 by 100.

Hey, my hand is a calculator!
The next day (Friday) I went to work, and tried to get things ready for my open class, which was today. Still distracted and now with a splitting headache from ear to ear, my friends urged me to see a doctor. I mentioned it to my co-teacher and she said, "Oh no! Look after yourself; you've got the open class on Monday. Oh, by the way, could you proofread this long religious text I translated?"

Eventually I was convinced by multiple people to take myself to the doctor asap. As soon as I finished prepping for the open class. Which is hard to do when your decision making skills are impaired.

Neighbour Min is a trainee nurse, and she recommended a hospital downtown, so down I went. By then they were knocking off for the day so they took me into the emergency room. In the bed next to mine, an elderly man was very, very ill. I thought he was dead until he blinked.

None of the doctors spoke English, and they were all very young and very embarrassed about this fact. Luckily I'm getting pretty good at understanding what Koreans are trying to say, so they checked me out and told me to go for a scan after asking me a few questions.

In another room, I climbed into a space ship and they took photos of my brain.

After a quick flick through it, the doctors said there was no sign of hemorrhaging but that I should come back tomorrow just to be sure. I asked for an early appointment because brain damaged or not, I was planning an epic hike. When I went back the next day, the neurologist told me about the bit of bone pressing on the brain.

"As long as you don't get a black eye or start bleeding from the ear, you're fine," he said, reassuringly. This whole medical experience (including the walk-in brain scan) cost 65 000 won, which is about R620 (for the South Africans).

So I went hiking, and had a blast, and made a new friend while doing so.

Top of Hamji Hill
So, aaaaanyway, open class day swings around and it's on a Monday, my busiest day. I teach 6 of 7 classes.  At least 3 of them gave me a chance to practice my open class lesson before having to be a performing monkey in the last lesson.

Practice 1: Complete disaster. CT derails it by taking over and spending too much time explaining target language we covered last week. Had to skip the practice activity and jump to the production activity, which the kids were nowhere near ready for. Disaster and a half. CT has a fanny wobble and makes me change a lot of things in the lesson last minute.
Practice 2: These kids are geniuses. They're fantastic. Lesson works perfectly. It's amazing. Awesome.
Practice 3: A little more tweaking and it's just right. Hooray! Ready for action.

I had a first grade class between the last practice class and the open class, and since the teacher is away on maternity leave and we covered this week's stuff last week, I decided to spend the whole lesson playing a completely pointless vocabulary game.

Run to the open class, and they're all EARLY! Goddamnit, why are they early? And there's a camera, and there's snack food I didn't know about, and the girls are...

Wait a sec, what are the girls doing?

It's the last lesson of the day and these girls are so excited to have a crowd of waygooks watching them that they're bouncing off the walls, which is just, well, fantastic for me! Really fantastic!

We teach, and I realise I'm doing most of the teaching, so I hand some over to my CT with some silent eye wiggling, and she fluffs it a little cos she's nervous but it's okay, and the kids have a great time, and they learn stuff and do things and the timing is perfect and one group answers all the extremely difficult riddles and they're amazing and wonderful and

The lesson is a hit. One observer wants to steal it and teach it to her kids.

Korean class is cancelled today. Film Posse (movie club) is happening later. There are five beers in my fridge and it's home time, baby. I rocked it.

Oh, and my head is feeling much better, by the way.

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