Because I want to hold off on my awesome Busan trip until Friday today I decided to dedicate the amazing blog of me to my actual job in Korea.
No I don’t actually just run around and shop and eat and go places I actually work believe it or not.
So…teaching in Korea.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the horror stories. Nightmare co teachers, psycho bosses, not getting paid on time.
Luckily I am working for the GEPIK program so I am with a public school and do not have the worry of working at a hagwon. I can’t really comment too much on hagwons because I have no personal experience. I will say my friend Emily works at a hagwon. She is paid in cash and on time. She really lucked out as far as the adminstration part but she does work her ass off. From 130-930 she is non stop work.
I chose to go with a public school because it’s more structured and as a first time teacher I really wanted to take off the added pressure of having to make up entire lessons from scratch while balancing a new profession in a new country.
My school is in the resdiential section of Pyeongtaek-Si so it’s about a 5-6 min cab ride from downtown (AK plaza/ train station). It’s an elementry school 1-6 grade.
I have two co teachers. They are complete oppposites. The first one is very strict with just about everyone. The kids all seem afraid of her.
Pros: they rarely act out, or misbehave and when they do they are “punished” (made to copy lines over and over) which causes them to never do it again, they really pay attention in class
Cons: because they are so in line they don’t really seem to have personalities. They are great students but I feel like we can never really have fun. I want them to learn but also enjoy English because if they see it as a burden then I don’t think that increases their interest in the subject. She also tends to steam roll me a lot or undermine me.
I was told that I should lead the class but if there is one second where I pause or where they children look confused, before I can even attempt to fix it she jumps in and immdietly pushes me aside. I understand maybe she is trying to help me and the students but I wish she would at least try to let me fix it otherwise I can’t fully take control like she keeps telling me too. I also was put in charge of my cleaning crew which is a group of third graders who clean MWF. I always go in and help them or talk to them and we have formed a positive relationship. They are very cute and willing and work hard. But when I had to leave for an errand and came back they were very quiet and sad. It turned out that my co teacher had yelled at them and then told their homeroom teacher. I understand they can be loud but they are just so willing to do anything that seemed unnecssary to reprimand them in such a way.
My second co teacher is closer to my age and also a first time teacher. I have most of classes with him. Because he’s new we are struggling through the pains of first time teaching together which is good a bad.
He is a very kind and patient teacher. He hardly gets mad or angry at the students despite their less than positive attitude at times. He also lets me take control of the class and always is there to support and translate anything. We always have fun in the class and the students never seem like they are holding back on activities because they are afraid of being yelled at. He listens to my ideas and I listen to him so I think we have a very good give and take working relationship. I feel more comfortable and relaxed and enjoy teaching more because I don’t feel like I’m being heavily monitored or graded but I feel more like an equal share.
Because we are both new time teachers sometimes when I can’t get the students attention I would like it more if he would speak up. Because I can’t really scold them due to the language barrier I do wish he would speak up a little more. He recently has done this but he told me that students will take pictures of teachers they don’t like and send it to the board of education to have the teachers fired -this is why I assume he’s afraid of punishing the children even when I think they deserve it.
I know I sound super whiny and like a complainers but these are simply observations I have found in my month here so far. I know a lot of my friends have much worse co-teachers. I am lucky that my male co teacher allows me to call him whenever and help me out SO much (cell phone, internet, bank etc). But sometimes I do feel a little stressed in the classroom.
I know that there will always be struggles at a job and there will be people you don’t like etc. These are just simply my feelings and my personal account. I do have a great position at a nice school but not everything is perfect and teaching in Korea is just that.