On Friday we went on a registered “business trip” all the way into real-live-Daejeon. We live almost 30 minutes away (45 with traffic) making Daejeon feel as far away as another town.
My “business trip” was supposed to start at 1:30 to give me enough time to arrive at 1:45 -needless to say, I left early. Chris and I couldn’t catch a taxi for nearly 10 minutes but arrived with 2 minutes to spare.
The head of the office of education began with an opening ceremony. Koreans are big on opening and closing ceremonies – more than I’ve ever seen in America. I’ve been instructed to have an opening ceremony for my summer and winter camps where I’m supposed to make a speech opening the camp and later a closing speech. They’re big deals – but only for appearance.
The coordinator who is supposed to serve as a bridge between English teachers and Korean administration stood up to talk about special Guest English Teachers (GETs) who got perfect scores on their evaluations. Out of the 50 people renewing their contracts, only 8 people had perfect scores. The evaluations were done by our co-teachers so it’s not 100% accurate. Getting 100% doesn’t mean you’re a flawless teacher. It comes down to your co-teachers liking you or not. It’s up to them if they want to work with you next year – a great teacher who has bad relationships with the co-teachers probably won’t stay.
Chris and I had been talking about this the night before – the head of my department, like me or not, would never give me 100% because she’s very strict about teaching. Giving a 100% also means there isn’t any room to grow. At our school, we aren’t allowed to give out perfect scores to students (only 2 or 3 students are “allowed” to get perfect scores in the whole grade).
So imagine my huge surprise when I was one of the 8 names called! It’s like Sally Field’s Oscar Speech “you like me … you really like me!” Sometimes my co-teachers seem unhappy with me or annoyed with the class management system I use. The head of my department seems almost disappointed in my lessons sometimes. Getting 100% from all of them – that was extremely unexpected!
I was given a gift which turned out to be this:
I’ll cherish it always – mostly because it has my name on it. It’s impossible to find my name on stuff (keychains or touristy things). Something that was printed just for me and my name is spelled correctly – now that’s special.
We were briefed on the small changes to the contract – different wording on “employee record card” being changed to “employee attendance card” as well as a new clause that says we can be fired for narcotics use (thought that was a given, but whatever). Then we had to sign all of them in triplicate, keep two, then sign a special Daejeon contract that said we wouldn’t be lewd or sexual to anyone at anytime (again, thought that was obvious).
The coordinator stood up and laughingly said “haha, guys, I forgot to tell you. I was going to tell you before you signed your contracts but I forgot. Hahahaha. There’s a tiny chance you will be transferred to a different school or given additional schools”
F that noise – what?!
Later, still acting like it’s not a big deal she mentions we won’t even know about these MAJOR changes until the last couple weeks of February. WHAT?!?!
The reason we decided to stay another year was because we wanted to stay with
a) our co-teachers
b) our students – if we could, we would stay for 2 more years to see our 1st graders through to graduation.
c) our school staff. We’ve worked all year to build up relationships with these people – I have science, math and home-ec teachers who talk with me, recommend restaurants and try to make conversation at lunch. Meanwhile Chris is good friends with a PE teacher and Special-Ed teacher at his school.
d) our apartment, neighborhood and everything that we’re comfortable with
When we say we want to renew, we mean renew with our schools. Changing schools or balancing them with another school was never part of the deal. To treat it like a joke is total BS, too.
So at this rate, if the worst happened we would be vacationing in America by the time we found out. If we were to lose our schools or have to commute to additional schools I’m not sure what course of action we would take, honestly. It would be hard not to take the low road “you screw me, I’ll screw you” and just leave.
Realistically I can’t see them changing schools. Right now people are turning in paperwork to come work in Korea. Daejeon says “we have X positions open – send us X people.” These X people will come in February and do the orientation. If DMOE really thinks they ‘re going to tell us late February, during the orientation that we’re going to work additional schools – then what happens to those X people who came to fill the jobs?? None of it makes sense (though that’s typical).
I guess we’ll see.