Professional Development. PD. Yuck.
I’m not against learning, I would love to improve my teaching skills. But PD here is usually irrelevant. The online orientations, the real orientation, the “staycation in Daejeon” most everything we heard was irrelevant to our particular schools and students.
EVERY school is different here, so you can throw most advice out the window. Even things that work for Chris’s school, a block away, won’t work at my school. Class layouts, past experiences, textbook differences, English Classrooms, co-teachers, principals, curriculum, holidays. For the most part, those things are different in every school and thus everyone has a different situation.
A few weeks ago we got a dreaded email that said we had a co-teacher PD session. Having to go with a co-teacher? We had heard of these online, something horrible where they went around a circle and asked people to comment on (complain about) each other. It sounded like hell. We didn’t want to go.
It was optional … there was always that chance that we wouldn’t have to.
But sure enough, our co-teachers approached us and said: we’re going. Be ready.
My biggest fear was that it would change something. Either completely destroy my co-teacher’s and my relationship, or change things in-class. “They said we should do X, so we will start doing X!”
Fortunately, my co-teacher was smart and signed us up for “Activities in the Classroom” much better than a co-teaching relationship workshop.
I was asked to prepare some answers to questions ahead of time. These were supposed to be something I was supposed to share during class discussion.
“Did you prepare the answers?”
“Oh good. I don’t really like talking in class. I just like to listen.” My co-teacher said.
I told her I did too. We decided we could both just sit back and listen. So much for preparing answers.
In class, our leader made us stand up and play childish ice breakers. My co-teacher and I grimaced and stood out of the way.
It was nice to bond over mutual dislike. We were the introverts in the back quietly watching, absorbing. It was much better than expected.
“Alright everyone! Please move around the room and talk about classroom activities.”
No one stood. In a unanimous move, everyone turned to their own co-teachers and started chatting with them. We were supposed to all exchange ideas with other people but no one wanted to… or could. Again, advice and ideas for one school would be a train wreck in another school.
My co-teacher turned to me, looking for something to talk about…
“Do you like us?”
Because I was shocked, my tone sounded like I was lying “yeahhhhh”
I do like my co-teachers. All 4 of them. Assigned English names for anonymity.
Susan- She has an iron fist and is very nice and understanding.
April- She’s extremely intuitive. I can’t look at her without her rushing forward to help with something or bring order to the class. She’s also extremely helpful, I can mention a few things and a few hours later I might have maps or directions to the solution.
Autumn – She’s realllly down to Earth. Her catch phrase would be “why don’t you just put on a movie” She can lecture when things really hit the fan. She’s worked with foreign teachers a lot in the past but we seem to get a long well. I don’t feel a pressure of “well my last foreign teacher…”
Misha – She also has an iron fist and will lecture classes into an oblivion. She requires participation and milks every class and lesson for everything we can give. I think some of my classes actually learn more with her than with other co-teachers.
So I don’t know why I couldn’t say any of this.
I recovered as quickly as I could talking about how intuitive you guys are and how you help me, etc. I don’t think I offended her but holy moly. What a question – “do you like us?”
After chatting about co-teachers and introducing the idiom “iron fist” I decided it was as good of time as any to ask about renewal.
She seemed relatively hesitant as well “I would like to work with you again next year” she said.
So we each had a chance to ask each other an awkward question.
I’m not too worried about her hesitation. She hasn’t been approached with renewal paperwork yet and it’s far from her mind. It’s also not just her choice, all my co-teachers help decide, as do the principal and vice principal.
After the meeting, on monday, I was approached by Autumn who heard from Misha that I want to work here next year. She said “I wouldn’t worry [about being renewed], all the students and teachers like you, so you will stay”
Budget issue-rumors are really starting to fly around. The past year has not been good to foreign teachers here. But while other offices of education are firing, Daejeon hired last season as well as upping the required professional development hours.
Supposedly in mid November. So in a few weeks, we should start getting the ball rolling with eventual renewal. Assuming all is right with the budget I think things should be okay.
If all goes according to plan and we’re both renewed we have multiple big plans. One involves a long plane ride and another involves online classes. The more these plans get finalized, the more we’ll let you know.