Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Desk-warming Survival Guide of Doom

I know, I know, it's been months since my last post. Well, since then I've been pretty busy puttering along, getting my job done. I've ticked off some things on the bucket list, like getting onto an army base, hitting the Boryeong mud festival, and things like that. I've got a few ideas for this blog that are in the works, namely the long and gruesome tale of the disaster that is my skin and what the most famous dermatologist in Daegu is like (with photos) but those will take some time (and polishing) to complete. The good news is that for the next ten days or so, I have nothing but time. It's deskwarming season! So here's a handy survival guide. I've made it nice and long so that you can kill extra time just by reading it.

*And this wouldn't be right without some kind of doom and gloom - my original plan was to read books once I'd finished planning for next semester. And then, the night before desk warming began, I dropped and broke my Kindle. NOOOOOO! Boo hoo. 

What is deskwarming and why the hell am I sitting here in the office, all alone, during school vacation?

Well, you're considered a public servant, which means you need to work public servant hours. Sparrowfart of dawn to early evening, and at least in summer it's still light out for a good three hours or so after you leave work. Sure, the other teachers have all gone home. It's different for foreigners. A while back, if you had no work to do and there were no kids around, nice Principals would let you go home. Then, chuffed to bits, you'd crow about it on facebook. And the poor sods stuck at school complained, so they've made deskwarming compulsory. You get a certain amount of leave each year and it's significantly less than there are days of school vacation. Suck it up and get ready to enjoy being paid to do... Whatever you want.

Really? I can do anything I want? *strips naked and dances around the school*
 Waaait! Maybe not quite anything. Don't forget about the security cameras, and the odd wandering staff member who might pop their head in. Here's a list of the things I'll be doing over the next few days to kill time at school between 8am and the holy grail of 4:30. They're listed in order of most professional to least. I am not responsible for any maiming, funny looks, or accusations of impropriety that may result from following the advice in this post. Please don't sue me.

1. Do your job.

Being a teacher is not just about teaching. It's important to plan and make materials. Well, now's your chance to get ahead of the madness that was last semester, when you were flying by the seat of your pants. This is your chance to make the massive, time consuming powerpoint review games, or do some bad-ass cutting and sticking (especially if you teach elementary school) and colouring things in. Beware of tasks that require printing or photocopying - there's no one around to fix the damn machines and the odds are they're already out of ink and/or broken. Today I started working on a review game for last semester's work, because (after planning a rough outline of what will be taught when this semester (time killed with excel colour coding: 1 hour), I saw that I may have a couple of stray, pointless lessons right in the beginning). The game (Trivial Pursuit, downloaded off Waygook and available here) has space for 300 questions. Working my way meticulously through the textbook and having each A card set as "Advanced" and B as "low level" means that this has taken up a huge chunk of my day. And I've only made 50 questions so far.
Time killing rating: 5/5

2. Become better at your job.

Yes, we've all done our TEFL and suffered through the online training, and some of us were qualified teachers before we even decided to come to Korea. But maybe you've realised that you still have trouble with classroom management, or you're not entirely sure how to get kids to improve their speaking skills, or how to make them interested. Maybe you need ideas. Maybe you just like developing your skills to their fullest. Improving your professional skills through research can do wonders for your renewal and how your coworkers see you. Read education journals online, or other teacher blogs. Get up to speed on the latest strategies. I found a bunch of books on foreign language teaching in my English room's bookshelf. Another option is to work on improving your own vocabulary and grammar, to make yourself better at English so you can better teach it. Who knows, you might think of something new and be able to write a paper on it or something, which could be presented at conferences like those offered by KOTESOL. And that looks REALLY good on your record and CV. Do the grunt work now and enjoy the higher pay and better jobs later.
Time killing rating: 5/5 (but it can be boring at times)

3. Learn Korean

You've got a desk, the internet, and some peace and quiet. It's a great time for you to work on your Korean skills. I recommend doing the intensive course through the YMCA (I'm on the 1B level now and it's amazing) but if you can't afford it or aren't that committed to it, you can always just work through the Talk To Me In Korean website, and other resources listed elsewhere in my blog (and on the right hand side of this page).
Time killing rating: 5/5

4. Learn other stuff
Extreme Tea Pouring
I went for lunch with Theresa yesterday and asked her what she's been doing to pass the time. She said "Research" and I was very impressed until she explained that learning how to do anything counts as research. I think the example she gave was "Drying peaches in my apartment". Is there any skill you've been curious about learning? How about sign language? Or knitting? You can learn stuff through Open University or you can learn things off Youtube. Hairstyles? Makeup tutorials? Why not? But it's probably best if it's something that won't disturb other people in your office (if there are any) or things that don't look like you're just messing around. Lolly recommends learning to do that cup song from Pitch Perfect. Learn to photoshop. Get creative. Time killing rating: 4/5

5. Basic Self-Entertainment

Read a book. Watch a movie (but have another tab ready to alt+tab to if your VP suddenly pops out of a cabinet). Listen to music. Make 8tracks mixes. Stalk every single one of your Facebook friends. Beware of too much passive stuff though - if you're just doing nothing but watching stuff, or receiving stuff, you can be more susceptible to depression. Time killing rating: 3/5

6. Get fit

Check out Convict Conditioning for exercises you can do in a limited space with limited equipment. Become a superhero. Time killing rating: 3/5 (but beware of stealthy/concealed staff members)

8. Write lyrics the song your school uses as a bell
It's only day one and the bell is already driving me mad. There's a great video by Mike Aronson of a rap he made using the Seoul Metro song. Why not do something similar for your school bell? If it's really awesome you could teach it to your students and be the coolest teacher ever. Boom.

Then again, it may be awful.

  Time killing rating: 3/5

9. Write 

Keep a blog, work on that novel or knock out some poems. Studies have shown that doing something creative and productive (even if it's just for yourself) is more stimulating than passive entertainment like watching TV, and is better for avoiding the depression that comes with doing nothing day after day. Maybe write a travel article about that awesome place you discovered over the weekend, and submit it to the Daegu Compass or the Matador network, or Chincha. Time killing rating: 5/5

10. Devise a fully executable zombie/Other survival plan for your school. 

Find all the exits, store rooms, possible safe rooms. Think of every eventuality. Winter is coming. Time killing rating: 2/5

I'm sure you can think of more. Tell me in the comments! How are you passing the time?

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