Monday, October 20, 2008


As I am going through this process of leaving my school there are moments when I feel like I am enjoying working at my current place. So I would feel at times a little regret for having been kicked out.

Yet this all came to a halt when we had a meeting last Thursday. It was our day off (for reasons I don't know) and we were meant to come in for a meeting and decorate the place for Halloween.

At the meeting I sat around and watched as it unfolded. It turns out the school is implementing new testing for the students. This is actually a good thing because the test up to now have been really simple and not that serious. The new tests are a complete overhaul. The way you administer it is by taking the kids one by one into the hallway, have them sit down and listen to a CD, then they give their answer. It consists of 4 parts and is broken up between the foreign and Korean teachers.

It was like a bomb had gone off. The Korean teachers pointed out how the new tests don't exactly correlate with the text books, which means that they are going to have to spend extra time teaching the children how to take the test. But there is virtually no time. We get 45 minutes for each class, most of which is spent checking homework or their workbook. They now have to squeeze in more material. Also the Korean teachers complained that the parents are going to be upset because obviously their children are going to fail the test, since it is harder.

As I listened and watch everyone sigh in disappointment, I could only feel a sense of relief at leaving. The meeting made it apparent to me that this place still doesn't have its act together. They should have known that if they were going to introduce new testing that it would affect the lesson plans.

Oh well! I am now grateful for leaving at the end of the month. For my next workplace I know it may or may not be well organized, but I think I will have the skills to approach it.


  1. and let me guess... the new test is expected to be implemented next friday.

    no lead time given for major changes was always the greatest shortcoming of the managers at my various hogwans.

  2. It will be implemented next month, which is way I feel relief! But I think if I were to still be at this place I would be spending this month figuring out how to plan for it.

    The rest of my coworkers seem bummed out but I don't see them taking any planning actions.

    There is going to be another meeting next week before next month, hopefully they will let me skip it...seeing how it doesn't pertain to me.

    I think in general the teacher manager never really received management training...she was a teacher and became a manager. Her and I don't see eye to eye 90% of the time.

    2 weeeeeeks!!!!

  3. Get used to the disorganization of Korean schools--public or private.

    My favorite Korean Lack of Planning event happened when I had to judge a skit contest and they'd double-booked the room. I was the only one who thought that was weird. (If you're interested, it's the 11/24/07 entry on my blog.)

  4. Thanks Amanda.

    I think since I am still here that I will not escape this disorganized way of management. I will have to try hard to become not so reactive and more active.

  5. I didn't even get active. I just watched it all with a bemused detachment, because I found that if I got active and did something, they decided, about 20 mins after I'd finished my part of whatever it was, that they didn't need me.

    When in Korea, do as Koreans. Make it all up at the last minute. ㅋㅋㅋ

  6. From what I've heard, planning ahead is not a skill that many (most?) hagwon managers have mastered. However, I think that doing some screening prior to accepting a position can do a lot to cut down on surprises.

    As a 'happy' example, I am going to finish a student book for one of my classes next week. My director stopped by at the end of last week to ask what day I thought we'd be done, and then on Monday of this week he brought in four different books for me to browse through and choose between for what we'd cover next. Very much on the ball.

    When first looking at jobs in Korea last year I participated in 30 phone interviews but turned down each position for one reason or another before finally agreeing to work at my current hagwon - after interview number 31. I think part of it is knowing what you want before you start, while the rest is being patient to make sure you get it in the end. I hope the school in Hwassan is one that meets what you're looking for!

  7. Samedi just reminded me of something. At my hogwon, I was told that I wasn't doing the book fast enough and that I was going to take over a year to do the book.

    I did the math and showed them that we were going to be done in 7 months at my pace.

    Hogwon owners are not known for math skills, either, so watch that pay check.

    Also, while you're at it, Joy, you should check that they're actually paying your taxes and pension and not pocketing it.


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