Disclosure: All opinions and thoughts are my own and may not reflect other people’s thoughts and experiences.
One of the main reasons I chose to teach in Korea was because I had no EFL teaching experience and the program I applied to has you teaching alongside a Korean teacher. Some people have up to 6 or 7 co-teachers. I have 3. It’s been a blessing and a curse.
Each co-teacher is different and everyone’s experience with their co-teachers is different. Mine range from pleasant to I’m ready to murder you. I’m literally sitting here with cancelled classes because one of my co-teacher’s and I hate working together. Here’s the breakdown of my co-teacchers and how they’ve influenced my experience in Korea.
I can’t complain too much about my main co-teacher. She’s a good teacher and she has generally been really good to me. The only problem with her is my first day of work she threw herself in a chair and said ‘I’m sick of teaching!’ This was my first day working with this woman. I genuinly think she cares for the children and believes that English is important for their life success. However, I’m a realist who needs to be surrounded by optomism and her pessimism and exhausted attitude about her job has me really not caring very much about my job. She does all the work, refuses to let me help, complains about the job and tells me she wants to quit. Sooo yeah. I have adapted to putting minimum effort into my teaching with her.
Co-Teacher number 2
My second co-teacher is super cool. Unfortunately, I only have one class with her so we barely talk or see each other. She’s young and doesn’t have much experience being around foreigners which makes her a bit clueless about a lot of things in the western world. For example, when I came back from vacation last summer she asked me if I would ‘correct’ my skin. Meaning, would I bleach my tan off. She was shocked to learn that people tan in the US. And that bleaching one’s skin is not a normal thing for us in the US. It’s sort of amusing but also a little bit sad.
Co-Teacher number 3
My 3rd teacher, for me, has been a serious lesson in self-control. I actually have most of my classes with my guy co-teacher. I call him ‘Sir Teach-alone’ because for most of last semester I’d go to him to discuss the next class and he would say to me, ‘I think today, I will teach alone.’ At first I was a little offended but now I celebrate whenever this happens.
When we actually do have class I prepare a 10 minute activity for the 40 minute class. The other 30 minutes, I usually sit in the back of the class. But what really pisses me off is when I prepare an activity and he changes it in the middle of class without telling me. Or even worse, he doesn’t leave time for the activity and dismisses the kids without telling me that we aren’t doing my activity. Why am I there then?
The children are the ones missing out because his intonation and pronounciation are off a lot of the times. I cringe every time I hear him say ‘spaghetti’ or ‘guitar.’ But he CANNOT be corrected. He is a proud, miltant person who is clearly insecure about his English skills. Rather than ask me for help he avoids me. Koreans generally cannot talk things out or be straight forward like we are in America. I’m a pretty blunt and direct person and I don’t feel like playing the passive aggressive game so I’ve resorted to treating him like a guy who’s stopped texting.
Last week, I walked out after our 2nd of 4 classes and didn’t return to class. I sat in my office instead. The next day I called out because I didn’t want to see his face. For the last two days I have been sitting at my desk because he has decided to teach alone again this week. I hope he got the clue from me walking out on class last week that I too, don’t want to teach with him.
I’m learning a lot from this experience of co-teaching. Mostly, that I can make it through working with a douchebag without yelling at him or cursing him out. That every profession has shitty people. We have to pick our battles and decide what is the best way to get through the situation. I will say, I wake up every morning wanting to call out. I have NEVER felt that way working in TV. NEVER. I’m starting to really appreciate my life, and the work I’ve put into my life back home.