Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Terrible Day

I didn't want to name this post "Terrible Day," so I Googled that to see if I could come up with something clever.  You know what the first link was?  An ESL worksheet.  Damn it.

Our meetings with Julia have been moved to Tuesdays at 11am.  And, as you've heard after every meeting we've ever had, they are not very fun.  Today's meeting, however, takes the cake.

The meeting started with us talking about our upcoming paychecks.  Luckily, because the 10th is on a Saturday, we'll be paid on Friday.  And it's direct deposit, so that helps.  Then, as usual, Julia pulled out her little notebook full of "suggestions" for us.  Except they're not suggestions, because there is no back and forth.  Julia talks, pretends to listen to us (she actually listens a bit to Ian) and then finishes her thought or moves on to a new suggestions.

I never come out of those meetings in very good shape.  Ian is hard to pick on, so even though Ian and I do many of the same things at work, I bear the vast majority of criticism.  A few weeks ago I was told that I was meek in the class room.  I probably was, considering I have never taught before and I received no training.  So, I thought I'd toughen up a bit and make sure my students respect me. I started disciplining instead of laughing things off.  Last week Julia told me that my "voice is too high" (illustrated with raised hands) at times in the class room.  She didn't mean tone (which is obvious for anyone who knows me), she meant volume.  Well, yeah, Julia, I've had too yell a few times.  Ian yells a lot.  Oh, right, he's a man.  That's one of the cleanest-cut ways to illustrate how contradictory she is.

Apparently, Ian and I need to spend more preparing our "materials." Which, admittedly, we could do.  We spend every Thursday morning creating lesson plans, but we could do more.  We just need legitimate direction.  She wants us to play games in class, but the book must be filled out to impress the parents (who are paying a fortune).  She told us about a South African couple that worked for her for three years at her other academy.  According to her, they were always thinking about ways to get through to their younger students.  They were so creative that they game up with a game involving two cups and a string!  So, Ian and I brought up the other version of telephone (the one where the students pass a phrase on in a circle).  We thought that'd be a great way to get the students to think about sentences and phrases and the importance of the way they say things.  Julia didn't like our version.  Apparently it's too repetitive.

Ian and I get to work an hour early every day.  We do our final preparations and make copies, which leaves us with about a half hour to kill.  So, we've brought books occasionally.  I hardly get a chance to read mine, but Ian finds time, which is good because it settles your brain between classes.  We are no longer allowed to read "private" books.  Which I understand.  But, it's okay for us to hang out on the internet.  It's all about appearances, after all.  It's important for you to understand that I run my class schedules based on the time on my cell phone.  All the clocks at school are different.  I can count on my phone to be consistent.  The reason Julia gave for disallowing books is this:  Apparently, one day I was late to class according to the clock in the classroom.  I always change them, but they never stick.  The students asked the principle where I was (two minutes in, mind you).  She said that I was gathering my materials and that I would be right in.  That's when the little dears said "Nuhuh, she's reading her "private" book."  So, if I indulge my own brain for five minutes the company loses face.  Therefore, no more books.

Though both Ian and I have read at work, Julia only mentioned my behavior.  Today, when I had forgotten to write my the classes page numbers on the attendance sheet, she said "Ian filled out his for JanlRak and Goam, but you did not."  Awesome.  She also pointed to my teaching at Ha So a lot (which makes sense since I am there three days a week).  But, that makes me feel strange about our relationship with Chun wha.  We're supposed to be friends, so if there's something I can improve on, I'd rather her come to me.

Every meeting has been bad.  But Julia managed to shatter a month's worth of confidence in her teachers in an hour and a half.  I asked her today if we could be taken to Seoul to watch other Yoon's teachers or at least see a tape (both of which we were promised at some point).  She made a lot of excuses and said no.  She added that next year, when new teachers come, they will be happy because they will have us to watch.  Subtext: "You're SOL."  To be honest, if they had been up front about us being the first native teachers for Yoon's, I would have declined the job.  Unfortunately, they didn't even give us the correct name for the school in the beginning.  Part of me wants to contact Asia, I just don't know what to say.

Today was filled with many things we hate about South Korea.  Don't worry, there are things we love, too.  Like:

Fishy bread!  No fish involved.  It's a fresh crispy donut-y type filled thing.  They're really cheap from street carts.  W800 for two.  That's less than a buck.  This one was filled with a Bavarian creme of sorts.  Yummy.

I appreciate you sticking it out through all that complaining.  I'd share the fishy bread if I could, but the interwebs just aren't technologically advanced enough, yet.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh. I am so sorry about you big Korean headache. I couldn't imagine being in your position, where you cannot even confront the person because of language/cultural barriers. I guess all you can do (other than contacting Asia as you mentioned) is shrug it off and keep doing what your doing. Changing to fit in with what Julia wants doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere. Try whatever YOU think will keep the kids attention and get them motivated.