For Kaeti’s experiences, go to the next post down.
Given that our schools are across the street from each other, you would think that they would operate the same. Well, yes and no.
The English department is made up of 7 people, including me. I co-teach with 4 of them, and the other two are brand new contract teachers who teach grammar. Of these 4 people that I teach with, only 1 of them comes close to being a true co-teacher. The others will generally help keep order, but (for some reason) they prefer not to be too heavily involved.
When I first started, the school gave me the text books for the class. That’s normal, any class will generally have a text book. What I didn’t know was how seriously the school takes the text book. So, my first lesson used some parts of the text book, and some of my own things. But as soon as I deviate from the book, the co-teacher gets confused and tells me to stay on track. Uhh….okay. Even stranger, the students get flustered when you move off of the text book. I later learned that they get flustered because tests are entirely based off of the book. So, if there is a lame little dialogue on page 51 that reads like this- “Jiho, what is your favorite color?” “My favorite color is blue, what about you?” They need to know it exactly. Because on the test, a possible question would be to write down Jiho’s answer verbatim. I know that some teacher get really upset when they have to use the book. And honestly, I don’ t feel like I lesson plan that much.
The benefit of this is that the students are keen to stay on track, they know that if they don’t hear the exact answer for part c on page 40 then they will be at a disadvantage on the test. But I seriously question how much they are learning. They are only learning certain phrases, not when and how else to use them. We all learn languages in phrases, but not to this extent
My office is on the 4th floor with the first (6th) graders. I actually really like this,our room has a bit of a view and the first graders are all really nice. There are 12 teachers in this office. 3 of them are in the English department, so we can work together on lots of things. I have also made really good friends with the P.E teacher. He is the only other guy in the office, and he really likes to practice English on me. He has been teaching me a bit of Korean, but it will be a long while till I can form a coherent sentence on my own hahaha. It goes without saying that I am the youngest teacher by far, maybe in the entire school. Some of the women in this office could be the same age as my parents, and none are younger than 30. They actually kinda think this is funny,and it certainly does not bother me.
I see the first and second graders every week, and the third graders every other week. So I really have to rush the lesson with the third graders, and then I have tons of time with the other two grades.
I almost never see the principal. The vice principal comes around every so often. Some people have said that the principals in their schools are either very authoritative and scary, or they become best friends. I will probably never be friends with the principals, but at least they like me! Every time the vice principal sees me, she makes it a point to say something in English to me, which is very sweet haha.
My classes are mixed in gender. Kaeti’s are separated. We still debate the pros and cons of this system. We agree that the girls are by far the better students, so half of Kaeti’s classes are wonderful, and other classes have boys in them. I have noticed that the girls in the classes tend to tone down the craziness. Sometimes boys try to show off, but once they get shut down by either myself of the co-teacher they learn to avoid that embarrassment. But sometimes in Korea “showing off” can be demonstrating how awesome your English skills are. So its not all bad.
But all in all. I really like the people I work with. They are all very nice to me.
I also really like the students. Everywhere Kaeti an I go we typically run into some of our students, and they typically get excited to see us. In the halls of the school students will bow and wave and say hello.