AGH LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL!!! I can’t wait to bust outta here likeeeeee
Today I wanted to talk about co-teaching, specifically my co-teachers. One of the perks of teaching in Korea as opposed to other countries is that you get a co-teacher. You’re not alone in the classroom. You have someone to translate. You have someone to observe and feed off of. Basically, you’re not just thrown into the lion’s den with a bunch of kids who have no idea what you’re saying…BUT. This. Is. Not. Usually. The. Case. I wanted people to read that slowly, especially if they’re a new teacher or looking into teaching abroad. I PROMISE that no one tells you about co-teachers UNTIL you get here. THEN and only then do you start to hear the stories… There are no two people that have the same relationship with their co-teachers. Everyone has a different story. Some people are best friends with their co-teachers and really form a lasting bond. Some people end up reporting their co-teachers to the Office of Education -_-. Now, your co is supposed to be your go-to person. They are the first person you have in your new life. They are supposed to help set you up for success at work and for the rest of your time in Korea. Setting you up includes:
- Showing you your new apartment
- Showing you where you’ll be working
- Getting you your Alien Registration Card
- Setting up your bank account
- Setting you up with a phone if you choose
- Taking you shopping
Now, in my case and sooooooooo SO many others, not all of this happens according to plan. I recently spent my Sunday morning at the bank for the FOURTH time since I’ve been to Korea and this ALL could have been avoided if my co-teacher hadn’t been such a careless person. I actually have four co-teachers, as I’ve mentioned before, but everyone has one main co-teacher. In those first few months, she/he is your link to all of the administrative business, apartment issues, life in Korea, etc. Now, even though these people are “English” teachers, they can’t always speak English. Yes, not all English teachers in Korea can actually speak English. This can cause lots of problems when you start working with them. There is a whole spectrum that your co-teachers can land on. Sometimes, they’re so grateful to have an English teacher, they give you full reign of the classroom. Sounds nice, until you need someone to translate or you’ve never taught before. Sometimes, your co-teacher can’t speak English very well and this results in a real power struggle between the two of you. They don’t know what you’re saying and they don’t like that, so they carefully monitor you and breathe down your neck and try to hijack lessons as much as they can. Your co-teacher might speak great English, which can result in them constantly interrupting you in class to correct you, ask random questions, etc. On the rare occasion, you’ll have a great relationship where you are both in sync with class and your co-teacher translates, let’s you actually speak to students, etc. SO RARE, yet so wonderful. I have a mix of EVERYTHING. This is a breakdown of my co-workers and my experiences with them…
Lord Voldemort– Nough’ said. This is my main co. She is, how the French would say, “Le Poo.” “Lord Voldemort” is honestly too good of a name for her… Anyways, she is the one with the baby who, together, manage to be the bane of my existence. My first few weeks in her class, she told the students I was the “Human Computer” and asked me to stand in the back of the room. The students had to ask me for help with spelling…and that was it. SO my first few months, I just stood in the back and said and did nothing UNLESS one of the kids needed help. This caused major problems when it was time for my open class…more on that later! She is someone who can NEVER be bothered, but has no problem bothering everyone. Seriously, the teacher who I replaced actually had dinner with me to tell me about how awful a time she had because of the same teacher. There are SO SO SO many examples of why she is the worst, and they include:
- Leaving me all alone my first night/weekend here in Korea
- Being an idiot at the bank which has resulted in me returning there on my days off FOUR TIMES to correct what could have been avoided if she wasn’t always rushing
- Making sure her baby comes with us EVERYWHERE ALWAYS
- Confusing “useless” information with useful information
- THIS LIST COULD GO ON FOR CENTURIES
How I feel before/during/after ANY interaction with her:
Chicken Little- Aside from having a baby voice and wearing very large glasses, this co-worker also has a habit of bobbing around my desk/face when she needs to speak with me OR she is just being nosy as hell, which is OFTEN. This particular co-teacher works at my second school, which if you’ll remember, is already hell. Now, she’s a kind person, but, as I suspect is the case with MANY of our co-teachers, her English is not good, so sometimes, she is too direct because she doesn’t know how else to say/ask something. At first, I would get so annoyed that she was really obsessed with time and constantly cutting my lessons or telling me to wrap things up, only to find out I still had a good 5-7 minutes left! She also insists on talking on the phone directly next to me in her baby voice ALL DAY. Besides that, she started trying to take my lessons over my first few weeks here, so I started using language and bigger words that I KNEW she didn’t understand. That way, I HAD to do the lesson. She also LOVES to start discussions with me, ask me to change lessons, etc at 4:20, when we get off work at 4:30. She is one of the first people I started saying, “NO” to, but that hasn’t stopped her from TRYING IT. She RARELY translates anything in class so I’m basically all, “Bueller? Bueller?” for 40 minutes straight. She also questions my every move and is CONSTANTLY staring at my computer screen. No shame. I could also go on and on about her and the other ways that she PUSHES my buttons, but I truly believe she has high-functioning autism. She has many of the traits I would associate with it, and this has helped me to remain so patient with her.
As soon as I hear, “Um, Sobe?” at 4:20…
Ming Lee- This isn’t actually her name BUT I actually have no idea what my co-teachers’ names are at my second school and this is what I call her in my head. They’ve called me by the old teacher’s name TWICE now, so I don’t really care -_- . Anyways, Ming is actually a substitute teacher. My real co-teacher got really sick a few months back and she’s replacing her until next semester. She’s young and cool and I have no real issues with her. The only time she was ever IRKY was during my open class with the Vice Principal and Principal. Again, it was one of my first times teaching this particular group of students and she was super anxious about the open class all day. We had agreed beforehand that I would teach and she would help the lower-level students if I was busy helping the student who was at the board (this activity required students to use the white board at the front of the room). Anyways, the Principal and VP forgot to come to the class and Ming didn’t remind them, so she calls them IN THE MIDDLE of class and they come up during all of the chaos. They then had a meeting about me and said I should have been walking around more. I asked Ming if she mentioned that it was her suggestion that I NOT do this and she said, “I did not say this.” It was just an awful experience. Besides that, she’s cool and this is really my last week with her.
When it comes to her:
Winnie the Pooh– My co-teacher who is ridiculously cool and probably the only reason I haven’t left Korea yet. Literally, an angel here and so, so cool. Winnie is always MORE than willing to help. So far, she has helped me order things online, installed the McDelivery app on my phone (praise him!), called around to get prices for me on various occasions, taken me shopping, invited me to go out, ETC. She is always willing to help ALWAYS and often asks me if I need anything. I can talk to her about so much (except Lord Voldemort because oddly enough, they’re good friends) and she has a real sense of humor and such a good soul. I could go on and on. I really wish for the sake of any other teacher coming to this school that Winnie could be their main contact here, but she’s leaving next year, which is also a big reason I won’t be staying at this school, if I stay at all! She should be in charge of training co-teachers (not that they receive ANY training at all!) I really wish everyone had this type of relationship with their co-teachers because it would really change their lives here!
Anytime we have class together:
Wow, so much more can be said about co-teachers and our relationships with them. So many stories that will never be told. So much heartache, laughter, sorrow, joy! Every emotion in the world is felt with these people! When they’re good, they’re good and when they’re bad you just wanna be like:
If you can’t tell, I really miss “The Office.” Thanks for reading this week’s post and if you feel that I am complaining about these people too much when I am a GUEST in THEIR country then: