Spring Conference was a few weeks ago in the beautiful location of Jeju-Island. It was, as most Fulbright Korea events are, packed to the brim with programming, discussions, and workshops. It’d been a little over two years since I’d last been there.
The last time was as a college junior finishing off my semester abroad at Yonsei University. I was a young, fresh, 20-year old who was embarking on her first truly solo vacation around Korea.
I’m three years older and in a different place in life than I was then. I’ve grown in my relationships and priorities in life. I still care way too much about people and things that I shouldn’t necessarily give my time nor thoughts to. But, I’ve gotten much better at physically and emotionally moving on and doing what’s best for me, even if I occasionally wonder what if. That’s being human though. And it’s something I accept about myself.
The conference was a great way for me to see how far I’ve grown as a teacher. And I think it was a similar experience for all of the ETAs participating in the conference.
Whereas Fall Conference was more of a troubleshooting conference where we bounced ideas off of each other and commiserated over our troubles with co-teachers, homestay families, and students, Spring Conference was the opposite. For the most part, everyone had figured out how to navigate their major struggles. Most ETAs (me included) were no longer struggling with teaching. Instead, many of us wondered how do we continually improve and/or how do we keep our students engaged 8~18 months in?
Spring Conference brought many different topics to the forefront of my mind. The first was intrinsic motivation. Almost a bane of my existence as a teacher right now. I’m constantly wondering how I can continue to motivate my students to learn English without overusing external motivation like prizes. Luckily, I don’t have to use external motivation enormously to get the students to participate. It’s still a struggle though. But as Director Shim said, “you can’t give up on them.” I haven’t and so that’s a good sign.
The second was the school year/grant year coming to a fast close. Spring Conference is the last official gathering of the Fulbright Korea 2017 Grant Year. We have final dinner in a couple of months. But, we aren’t required to attend. And as such, Spring Conference was a time to start preparing everyone for the “end.” Kyle Hall and Shannon Coombs led two great large group presentations/discussions centered on the end of the grant year, going home to America, and reverse culture shock.
It spurred me to think about the end of the grant year and actually make a bucket list for the rest of this grant year.
- Go to Boseong Green Tea Fields
- Go to the Jindo Sea Road Festival
- See a Concert
- Get a Facial done
Making a bucket list has been great! Mainly because it really solidified some plans for the rest of the grant year and made me think about what I want for the next year.
It’s been about three weeks since Spring Conference started and I’ve already completed bucket list item three (see a concert) and am planning on completing numbers one and two in a couple of weeks. The list is going great!
All of this is to say that the countdown to the end of the 2017-2018 Grant Year has started. This week my students are preparing for midterm examinations and next week I have a three day weekend for Children’s Day. There’s only so much time left this year and I need to decide how to use it wisely. Time is of the essence so let’s get to crossing off those bucket list items!