Friday, December 05, 2008


Well, the opening of the "new" school was not as triumphant as I'd hoped. I was sort of lookng forward to grandiose bouquets of flowers and maybe some noisy dancing girls, but it wasn't like that. I offered to do a pom-pom dance outside on the street, but my co-workers just laughed at me.

I was actually excited to have the opportunity to be working with new texts and what I hoped was going to be a new teaching philosophy - or something, but it's not working out so well.

I still haven't figured out exactly what the big idea was, but we're only using FOUR different texts out of the, I don't know, FIFTY or so that are available within our new melange of books. These new textbooks are meant to be finished within a month, which is fine by me. With our old books, we'd take three months to get through which was fine as well. I've spent so much time using them I;ve got my lesson plans sorted, pretty much. I've got a couple middle school classes who are taking six months to complete their texts, (we're using Get Together 3) which is challenging for them. About halfway through the fifth month I'm so totally sick of it, and the students seem to feel the same way. So a new textbook every month is cool. Previously, we were using eleven different texts for thirteen classes. Now, other than the middle schoolers, we're using FOUR.

I've been told it's some kind of transitionary thing where they're hoping to combine classes so two of our four bodies don't actually have to teach any classes. It's not a terrible idea to try to streamline everything, but the reason we were using different books (my franchise's publication (total "Let's Go!" ripoff) and "English Time") was because our students varied in their level of English ability. Now we're using one book for the wee kindergarten class, and the next level up for the 1st graders, and the remaining students have been shoved into the remaining two text's categories, Low 1 and Beginner 2.

It almost seems like the Einstein who planned all this WANTS the mothers to call in and complain and then yank their children. On Monday we had a record breaking SIX students drop out. So much for glorious grand openings. I've got siblings in 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock classes who were previously nine months apart, textbook wise, and now they're studying the same book! I'm embarrassed about it, and feel like apologizing everytime I tell the kids to pull their books out. Whereas I've been consulted over the last many years when it comes to picking a new textbook, I had NO input in what's going on. It saddens me that there's no consideration for the progress my students have made, some of these kids have been with us for YEARS, and it seems we've stopped caring about them. If I were one of the kid's mothers, I would have pulled them out so fast, I'm not surprised we're approaching critical numbers. If we keep bleeding students, something's got to give - and I wonder if the axe might fall upon moi. Technically, my new franchise isn't even set up to have a foreign teacher. Most of the existing franchises don't. Perhaps I'll be the most expendable, which honestly wouldn't be horrible news - except it means I'll have to find another job and sign a new year's worth of contract. I was hoping to wrap Korea up in the summer and get back to Canada to enjoy my nieces growing up. Granted, everything's up in the air because the exchange rate is currently raping my savings.

Nothing's simple.

Meanwhile my boss has taken over the failed Music School next door and is remodelling it as a Math Academy. I met the new math teacher a couple days ago. She doesn't speak English and (forgive me) she looks like a witch. Not that she's not a pleasant enough person - have no idea. Literally, she looks like a witch. All that's missing is a cackle and a pointy hat. The Math School currently has five students starting next week. My boss is trying to go big,...but he might have a big BUST coming his way. One of the classrooms in the Math School is going to be styled for grown-ups and I'm going to have to start teaching adults the week after next. I haven't taught adults since I worked in Japan ages ago. They're going to be absolute beginners, so it's going to be a challenge. Truth be told, I'd rather not bother. It means me working late three nights a week. Blah.

Demolishing ensues on the music school.

Die, Music School,...DIE!

This apple is demolishing itself.
I walk to school while that apple gently weeps.

Speaking of weeping, that's all I wanted to do as I stepped into my last class of the week. I felt like a balloon that's had a slow leak and was finally just about deflated. Demoralized. Defeated. Deconstructed.

Luckily, I've got a weekend in front of me to decompress.


Kevin said...

Sorry to hear about all the travails. You SURE you don't want to try your hand at some university teaching? I know you're great with kids (which makes you far, far braver than I am), but you'd be guaranteed at least a year with any established university.


rwellor said...

Hey... come up to Daejeon and teach at Woosong... you can mix kids and adults (most of us prefer adults, so you'd become beloved) and the level of management above us is all-foreigner, which makes some things much easier...

Me, I'm off to Seoul, but as a first Uni job, Woosong's pretty good.