Less than a week after finishing my first English Winter Camp in South Korea and I feel as though I have learned just as much, if not more than the students. There is such a learning curve to starting anything new and I felt like Camp Korea was no different. My previous experience teaching English abroad and educational involvement with children in the states were both on the volunteer side. The volunteer teaching was far less structured and they were just happy to have a foreigner who could help with whatever they were willing to give. Textbooks, daily routines, scheduled breaks and meal times gave structure to English Winter Camp.
I felt out of my element the moment before I met my class and I didn’t feel like anyone else was nervous about it except me. Most of my fellow teachers and co-workers either taught currently or were returning teachers from previous camps. They had been through the routines and process before and knew what to expect and what would be expected of them. They all knew the classroom games to play when you need to fill time between lessons and the tricks you pick up through experience that I felt I would be lacking. I was feeling more than a few butterflies and I was quick to accept any guidance from my fellow teachers to help me develop my own teaching style.
I will admit the first week was rough on me because I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be a fantastic teacher. The other teachers offered ideas and suggestions of ways they had done things that worked. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, if it work- it works. The common goal at the camp is to improve the English skills the students have and for everyone to have a little bit of fun too. Problem was ME not having fun because I was too worried about doing a good job — I really just needed to relax a bit. I needed to shake the “out of my element” attitude. Every experience is a new opportunity to learn. Whether your lesson goes better or worse than you expected, you learn what does and doesn’t work. In turn, you can share things that were positive for you.
I began to realize that a teacher’s best resources are other teachers. I was given loads of advice and encouragement that really helped me to relax and enjoy the English camp experience. I was able to take a little bit of advice on classroom management from one teacher, fun English games from others, lesson planning from another and try them out while finding a way to adapt it to my own teaching style.
If you have a good idea for your class, then it would likely be a good idea for many other classes. Sharing good ideas and tips to improve the quality of the educational value is beneficial to everyone. I wouldn’t have had such a positive experience at English camp without the support of my fellow teachers while rapidly climbing the learning curve to becoming a better teacher.