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EPIK Week 1: Class Survival Guide

Moana Powell

Technically, it's week 2 because the first week (roughly) was spent gaining pearls of wisdom about lesson planning, Korean schools, language and customs. Some of you may have even broken a board in Taekwondo. The whole week, you and every other EPIK teacher around you were moaning, and I wish they would tell me where I am going! Well guess what?! NOW you know, and you are sitting in the classroom with a bunch of Korean students who are waiting on you to start the class. Some of them are staring at you curiously, some are completely ignoring you and your co-teacher isn't there yet.

Don't worry, you WILL survive!! 

Here are the 3 things that will help you make it through the first week as a real live EPIK teacher:

1.     Introduction Powerpoint

There are some great templates online if you are looking for an effective introduction. Feel free to use them but keep in mind WHEN you are starting your year with EPIK. I started in August, which is the beginning of the 2nd semester for Korean students. That means the awesome Introduction slide you found - the one that sets class rules and has them making nametags with their favorite hobby on it - yeah, it was probably used by the teacher in the 1st semester, and they already have their nametags in a nice bundle near your desk.

But DO NOT FEAR!! You can still incorporate the nametags in your lesson. Just have them make another simple nametag, one side in English, the other in Korean. It usually takes about 5 - 10 minutes and students have time to decorate while you walk around the room practicing their names. They actually think it is fun listening to you get it wrong. Some of my students had bets on whether I could say each name properly.

2.     Games

Games are great for filling time, so I had games incorporated into my Powerpoint. I am lucky enough to have a unique name that is also very famous (thank you Disney). The 1st game, after they had nametags, was to have students guess my name. I made it really obvious, it was so obvious, they thought they were wrong.

After they guessed my name, they also had to figure where I am from. Again, based on the picture clues I provided. I split this between 2 slides. The first one had pictures of snacks from my country, part of the flag, and what we eat for breakfast.

The second slide had pictures of me with famous landmarks, and a note about the most popular sport. I even had an outline of my country appear in the corner of the slide for 3 seconds (most students missed it, but the rest got excited when they saw it.)

Students each had a slip of paper that they wrote their answer on with their name another way for me to figure out who they are. Winners won candy or a small snack.

The next slide was 2 truths, 1 lie. Students guessed the lie, and then we went over it (number of siblings I have). It was a way to introduce my family and fill time by having them bet on how many of each, brothers and sisters. It's a fun competition. I set up my slides for photos to show one at a time - the excited cheers and groans each time a new sibling appeared on the answer slide definitely make this worthwhile if you have an unusually sized family like mine (2 brothers, 8 sisters).

After my parent's slide, I had an informational one about myself, followed by a game of Sleeping Elephants. Each complete sentence for Sleeping Elephants made up a question based on my introduction slides, which the students had to answer to get full points.

And that is pretty much it. Most classes didn't make it past my sibling slide but they know who I am, where I am from and a little bit about my family.

3.     Snacks or Candy

Finally, have a large stash with you to hand out as prizes, because the first lesson with each class is not just an introduction it's a light bribe to get the students to participate in activities. Usually one piece of candy or snack per winner is enough for each prize winning portion. (Remember, this is only for the first time you meet the class, don't make it habit or you will have to ween them off it).

That's pretty much all you need for a successful first week. Remember, your introduction can be recycled for every class you teach that week, so it lessens the stress and gives you plenty of time to plan for the following week of real lessons.

Oh! one more thing and this is absolutely PARAMOUNT in your first week. Be flexible enough to understand that it is the beginning of the semester for the regular Korean teachers too, so they may have forgotten to tell you about one or two of the extra classes your predecessor signed up for during the first semester and that you have to continue for stability purposes. I discovered 5 minutes before it happened, that I had an Afterschool Program and a separate mentorship program. I also learned the day of, that I had a Teacher Training schedule where I was required to design and teach a curriculum for the teachers (and Principal) to learn English.

If you are willing to go with the flow, you'll notice the teachers will also find ways to be as helpful as possible.

Good luck with your first week, you have TOTALLY got this!!!

one year ago