Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Really What Do I Do?

I had another argumentative talk with my coteacher today. I tried to tell her that the kids tell me they are bored in class (which is true) and that they want to learn from games and fun things. Not to listen and repeat and memorize something.

But she just went on and on about how she perceives English should be taught. She says she loves the children. I asked "Do you think I don't love them?"

Things got cut off without a resolution. The only conclusion I made was to give up and stop fighting it. Stop trying to defend the "foreigner" teacher diposition. Do what she says...

I don't know if she will be the same teacher next semester. I want to quit having these arguments so I guess I should try to understand her and the Korean way of doing and thinking harder.

It makes me want to give up teaching English. All I really want is for my point of view to be heard, and comprehended. Not shut down and then lectured on the "right" way. I get it...the kids levels are low so we need to make the materials for that. But what about my experience and the different teaching methods I saw at my old school? (We went around to other schools and had lesson demos). I took the TEFL course and understand the lessons should be planned according to their level and cultural make up. But that they also should include diverse materials to break up things.

All in all, we just end up arguing with each other because I refuse to agree with her. I refuse to follow her like a robot and instead try to explain to her my ideas and reasons behind the materials I planned out. But no... it's useless.

I feel so dumb. :(


  1. Indirect action and speech.

    If you try to assert yourself, assert your knowledge and experience in EFL, and try to directly criticize and influence your co-teacher you'll lose every time...especially if it's with an older teacher (regardless of gender) who thinks that they're right and you're just an unmarried young female foreigner...

    As long as she's prepping the lesson and taking the lead co-teaching role in the classroom you actually don't have much to complain about--is that the case here? If she wasn't doing those things AND she was saying your lessons and teaching methods are crap then I'd say you should fight with her....

    Give her time to come around and eventually you might be able to work some small things into the classroom that are new to her. But try to recognize you're asking her to give up the security and peace of mind she has in believing that she knows what she's doing and that it's the 'right' thing--everything you're saying, I'm guessing, is a direct threat to her view of herself as a teacher, and the reality she has constructed for herself in HER classroom--you're just the visitor, the temp, and long after you're gone she still has her career to consider, and what her Korean coworkers think, etc.

    I don't know nearly enough to offer advice about your situation, but I've heard the same type of story a million times from foreign teachers in Korea....

    Rethink your communication patterns or it's gonna be a crap year for you. I had to learn this, and I think anyone who stays past the 2 year mark figures it out, or already does it naturally ....

    Good luck,

  2. Thank you Jason. You hit the nail on the head pretty much. I am glad you told me that perspective. BEcause I can see now that is what it is about. I am invading her "teaching bubble" I guess.

    BEsides these problems we have we do get along well. And she has praised me for being an organized person who tries hard. Also I can tell she likes the way I speak in class. We don't have our own English classroom so it is a challenge.

    But I really do want to understand what is going on here and not remain frustrated for a year. I think it is going to take me flipping the coin and living on the other side. MEaning adjust to her ways and goals. As you say after a while let in some of my own methods and materials.

    As much as I know I have to do this it also breaks my soul to know that the experience I have as the foreign teacher will not really be recognized.

    I have to accept I am the "temp" and person brought in for the "English voice".

    Looks like I have 2 weeks of vacation to either forget about all this or contemplate it all and accept it.


  3. Joy, I've found that you can talk all day, but it doesn't really make a difference. I am a yes woman when it comes to talking, but when it comes to my teaching, I do it like I think it should be done. I'm not sure how much of your classes are supervised by this co-teacher. But if you get alone time, play games, make up fun stuff for your kids. It's true they learn better that way and they enjoy it. The other way just makes them hate English. And it's really hard to learn something you hate. In my experience (which is small), I've found that about 15 minutes of serious intense teaching is good. Then you reinforce with games, with partnered conversations, with songs. It's working really well in my 3-4th grade classes.
    If you ARE supervised all the time, I'd say try to sneak a few smaller ideas in of your own and show her how it works. Of course I am not advocating rebellion against your coteacher, I think that'll make it tough. But perhaps you can SHOW her instead of TELL her how you think things could possibly work.

    Other than that, girl, get a hakwon job with NO COTEACHERS! Woot. I have my OWN classroom, my OWN curriculum, and my OWN lesson plans. It's awesome.

  4. I think it might be in your approach. Of course I don't know how you presented the situation but try not to be too accusatory when you approach your co-teacher. I find when I want something done, I mention it casually in a "wouldn't it be nice if..." or "I think I want to try..." and if and when your methods work, then you can show her you're competent. People become very defensive (even in America) if you start telling them how to do their job or how they are wrong. I'm sure she's teaching the way she teaches for a reason. Either it's worked for her in the past, or that's just how she was always taught and how she was taught to teach, but she's doing it for a reason. Don't automatically assume she's wrong, just try to compromise and get as much as you can.

  5. You seem to be having the same problem over and over again in the public schools here. Have you considered a uni or good hagwon job? No coteachers might work better for you.


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