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  • Waygook Lord

    • 7839

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
Public school: tougher than I thought
« on: April 02, 2013, 12:29:04 am »
I'm having a rough time at my new job. Reading posts on waygook.org, I got the impression public school would be a cakewalk, so I went that route. No way, Jose (at least for me in my particular circumstance). This is a tough job. I feel so tired at the end of the day. Each class drains me. I can't believe teaching 22 50 minute classes a week is taking so much out of me.

I am teaching at two schools (hence the full schedule), both of which are for students who scored poorly on their tests prior to entering high school. Of these two schools, the all boys school is by far the worse. It is almost unbearable. I dread going to work everyday. I think this school may be a technical high school or other alternative high school; maybe someone is not telling me something.

On the front board is the letters of the alphabet, individually cut out in capital and lower case letters. Why in the heck would high school students be learning their ABCs? I mean, they've had many years of compulsory English, starting in elementary school. Did they learn nothing?!? I try to do my best to help the students, but it is hard when the majority don't want to learn. What should I do? I spend so much time preparing materials, only to be disrespected and met with a disinterested reaction. Controlling thirty students at once is hard as heck, too. Almost continuously there is at least one student who is trying to sleep, text, or fight another student. I thought I would be getting help from co-teachers, but I was wrong. I am expected to handle discipline completely on my own. I am really shocked by how bad the students are. I remember reading online about how Korean students are especially respectful towards teachers, but I no longer believe that to be the case. From now on, I will never accept a job teaching non-adults. I figured high school students would be polite and mature- looking back on my high school experience, I can't recall any students in my classes disrespecting teachers to their face- but man was I naive. (Today I told myself I am going to finish my year contract- even though I don't want to and it will be hard to make it to the end- because I want to be a person of my word.)

On top of this, my living situation sucks. I was placed far away from the schools in a tiny one room with roaches and black mold under the wallpaper. It makes me sad to come home to that after a hard day of work. The first day I moved in I unzipped my suitcase to begin unpacking, and a giant cockroach fell from the ceiling (or from some high place- maybe a light?) into my clean clothes. So gross!

What do you think, guys? What should I do? Any words of advice?


  • JL5205
  • Super Waygook

    • 325

    • March 05, 2012, 11:02:50 am
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 12:54:29 am »
Sucks, man.  There is no long term future in teaching ESL here.  Only option (for good money) is the UAE.  My advice?  Stick it out for the year and save money.  Then when you have enough go back home and either get another job or go back to school for a different field of study so you can get a job.   Seriously, I've repeated this banal piece of advice so much over the past year that it should really be encapsulated into a nutshell signature under my posts.


  • money55
  • Super Waygook

    • 277

    • July 05, 2011, 02:12:38 pm
    • south korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 02:03:30 am »
Quit.  Is it worth your sanity.


  • Wintermute
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1196

    • October 06, 2011, 01:07:27 pm
    • MURRICA!!!
    more
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 02:22:11 am »
As someone said in a previous post. High school in Korea is like Juvenile Hall in America.

Quote
I remember reading online about how Korean students are especially respectful towards teachers

I have never read this. Too bad you didn't come to waygook.org before coming to Korea. We would have set you straight.

Quote
Reading posts on waygook.org, I got the impression public school would be a cakewalk, so I went that route.

What on Earth would ever give you that impression. I mean compared to hagwons yes.

Quote
This is a tough job.
well yeah, duh. You are now a teacher.

Quote
Why in the heck would high school students be learning their ABCs?

If you were to start learning Korean today, where would you start? The alphabet. And you're an adult. Is it really that bad that these kids have to learn the alphabet? I know they have had English all their lives, they should know this stuff, but in some parts of Korea English education just isnt that important. Schools have it because its required. Don't look down on them, or think any less of them because they are low level. remember they are not stupid just because they don't know English, they are just low level, and thats okay.

Quote
Almost continuously there is at least one student who is trying to sleep, text,

Just one? Thats great. Really I do not want to go to war with my students. I know English is not important to them so I dont stress it. If they want to take a nap then so be it. I don't allow phones and I will take them and keep them for a day or so. The reason they use their phones is because they dont understand what is going on in class, or whatever is on their phone is infinity more exciting than what you are trying to teach. There have been times when after I took their phones they became interested in what I was doing and actually started to enjoy the lesson and have fun.

Im sure you have read a thousand times over, that you need to make class interesting. Try finding things that students in western countries would enjoy doing, or things the kids can do in Korean.

Such as:
Egg drop contest.
deserted Island type game.
World trade or stock trading
English Battleship
the alphabet

Just remember its not all your students fault so much as it is yours. You are not doing a very good job and you need to do better. I can not sit here and teach you how to be a teacher. Just keep trying to improve and eventually you will get better, this is only your first month after all. Yea the kids could be better behaved and more respectful, but sadly, this is Korea. 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 02:25:27 am by Wintermute »


  • Wintermute
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1196

    • October 06, 2011, 01:07:27 pm
    • MURRICA!!!
    more
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 02:22:45 am »
Quote
Quit.  Is it worth your sanity.

mods still allow these post? oi


Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 06:17:52 am »
If your living condition is really that bad then I'd consider bringing it up to your coordinators.  Most likely your school will just tell you that you can move after your first year, but maybe they'll make an exception if you a firm about not living with black mold and roaches


  • flasyb
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1901

    • November 30, 2010, 12:10:03 pm
    • South Korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 07:35:00 am »
Controlling thirty students at once is hard as heck, too. Almost continuously there is at least one student who is trying to sleep, text, or fight another student. I thought I would be getting help from co-teachers, but I was wrong. I am expected to handle discipline completely on my own. I am really shocked by how bad the students are. I remember reading online about how Korean students are especially respectful towards teachers, but I no longer believe that to be the case.


What do you think, guys? What should I do? Any words of advice?

I've underlined what I believe to be the most important problem in your post.

You're trying to have the entire class under control the whole time. You want every sleeper awake. You want every kid to stop whaling on his mates. You want them to be paying attention to you for the whole lesson. It is a battle that you are extremely unlikely to win. THEY will wear YOU down. Not the other way around.

They're just there for the guaranteed piece of paper at the end of their 3rd year or if they're lucky a placement in a factory somewhere. They're not there because mommy and daddy are paying top dollar for a hawon place.

I used to teach at a rural technical high school (agricultural). Some of my students were good and I could have reasonable conversations with them. Some of them were as bad as you describe, though most weren't. Lots of them couldn't read English. They fell through the cracks a long long time ago.

The majority of my CTs didn't come to class. Your students are tired because many of them have jobs that they work after school - a lot of my students did farming work after school but others worked in restaurants. I couldn't go any where in my town without encountering my students - they worked every job going. Others just go their local PC bang and wile away their hours there.

A lot of these kids will be looking forward to military service for various reasons.

What's the solution? Stop caring about the behaviour so much but keep caring about the students. You're not going to teach them much English and you're not going to enforce much discipline on them. The best way is to try to get them to like you. Join in with them at sports if you can. Freestyle lessons a little bit more. Bribe them with a game for good behaviour. Some won't even care for such bribes but others might and if you're lucky, the ones that do should mostly be able to subdue the ones that don't. A leader board/points system sometimes works too.

This isn't real ESL that you're doing. Stop trying to treat it as such. I went from real ESL with adults in Peru to rural Technical High School teaching in Korea. It should be a crime to advertise it under the same job description.
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

We are not "guests" in Korea. Korea didn't invite us over for Pimms in the garden. We are paid employees.


  • jay0003
  • Adventurer

    • 37

    • March 06, 2013, 07:37:44 am
    • gyeonggi
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 07:42:59 am »
words

Best advice on this site.^
 I don't know how much leeway you have with your lessons, but try to make it as fun as possible for the all boys. You are competing against PC games, smart phones, and zany korean tv shows that have sapped their attention span. Include short video clips into the lecture whenever possible to break up the monotony. Physical comedy does well (these kids love Jackass, not always appropriate but you get the idea.) Just remember these kids aren't scholars, don't let it wound your pride if they're not eager to learn. Keep the focus on them and how you can reach them.


  • michs
  • Veteran

    • 172

    • March 04, 2013, 10:32:49 am
    • Daejeon
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 07:48:25 am »
looking back on my high school experience, I can't recall any students in my classes disrespecting teachers to their face

I regularly see comments more or less like this on here and can't help but wonder, where the hell were these fabulous public schools you all went to?


Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2013, 07:50:28 am »


Quote
Your students are tired because many of them have jobs that they work after school - a lot of my students did farming work after school but others worked in restaurants.

Cry me a river, in high school not one teacher would care if I had a late night at work the day before at the restaurant. School was still my responsibility.


  • taewon
  • Super Waygook

    • 406

    • July 04, 2012, 12:00:38 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2013, 07:57:28 am »
words

Best advice on this site.^
 I don't know how much leeway you have with your lessons, but try to make it as fun as possible for the all boys. You are competing against PC games, smart phones, and zany korean tv shows that have sapped their attention span. Include short video clips into the lecture whenever possible to break up the monotony. Physical comedy does well (these kids love Jackass, not always appropriate but you get the idea.) Just remember these kids aren't scholars, don't let it wound your pride if they're not eager to learn. Keep the focus on them and how you can reach them.


This is such a big problem in korea AND everywhere. Students can't pay attention! It was like 10-15 minutes before smart phones/pc games now it's around 2-3 minutes.
"One year they asked me to be poster boy - for birth control."
Rodney Dangerfield


  • stemarty
  • Featured Contributor

    • 1135

    • September 02, 2011, 12:20:42 pm
    • Jeonnamdo
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2013, 07:59:12 am »
Sounds like you're working at a vocation high school; especially if there are no "A" level classes.

Are you a brand new teacher? Your first month is gonna suck (sorry to be blunt)
But as time goes by you will learn and develop as a foreign teacher and will learn very quickly what works and what definitely "bombs"

Lower your expectations for yourself and the students. Make games. Find things that suit their interests. Show them funny videos, pop songs, comics ...from time to time.
If kids want to sleep, just let them. Who cares? What will benefit you from having them awake and cranky? - if It is vocation school they've already given up on studying hard in their 2nd semester of Grade 3 in Middle School because its just not important to them.

Public schools vary depending on where you are, so don't let this school ruin your experience of the awesomeness that public school can offer. But you shouldn't give up after only being here a short time. Give it time and it may grow on you - but you have to be willing to shift your attitude about these students. You may end up being one kids hero one day :D


  • gtrain83
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1755

    • August 27, 2011, 10:26:20 am
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2013, 08:01:15 am »
As someone said in a previous post. High school in Korea is like Juvenile Hall in America.

Quote
I remember reading online about how Korean students are especially respectful towards teachers

I have never read this. Too bad you didn't come to waygook.org before coming to Korea. We would have set you straight.

Quote
Reading posts on waygook.org, I got the impression public school would be a cakewalk, so I went that route.

What on Earth would ever give you that impression. I mean compared to hagwons yes.

Quote
This is a tough job.
well yeah, duh. You are now a teacher.

Quote
Why in the heck would high school students be learning their ABCs?

If you were to start learning Korean today, where would you start? The alphabet. And you're an adult. Is it really that bad that these kids have to learn the alphabet? I know they have had English all their lives, they should know this stuff, but in some parts of Korea English education just isnt that important. Schools have it because its required. Don't look down on them, or think any less of them because they are low level. remember they are not stupid just because they don't know English, they are just low level, and thats okay.

Quote
Almost continuously there is at least one student who is trying to sleep, text,

Just one? Thats great. Really I do not want to go to war with my students. I know English is not important to them so I dont stress it. If they want to take a nap then so be it. I don't allow phones and I will take them and keep them for a day or so. The reason they use their phones is because they dont understand what is going on in class, or whatever is on their phone is infinity more exciting than what you are trying to teach. There have been times when after I took their phones they became interested in what I was doing and actually started to enjoy the lesson and have fun.

Im sure you have read a thousand times over, that you need to make class interesting. Try finding things that students in western countries would enjoy doing, or things the kids can do in Korean.

Such as:
Egg drop contest.
deserted Island type game.
World trade or stock trading
English Battleship
the alphabet

Just remember its not all your students fault so much as it is yours. You are not doing a very good job and you need to do better. I can not sit here and teach you how to be a teacher. Just keep trying to improve and eventually you will get better, this is only your first month after all. Yea the kids could be better behaved and more respectful, but sadly, this is Korea.


I have a serious problem with this. It is this attitude that helps the Korean students get to high school without knowing ABC's/Phonics....or anything at all. They are coddled more than any group of people I have ever seen and I am tired of the it's not their fault bull.

Case in point. I learned the Korean alphabet in 2 class periods. Two. I have 6th graders who don't know the alphabet yet.  3rd/4th grade 2 classes per week and 5th 3. So approx (this is just rough math) min 110ish lessons? And they still don't know. Sorry that is on the system and them. Not most teachers. Granted if you are going in opening a book/cell phones games and passing out a worksheet fine but other than that start holding them accountable.

My 3rd grade co teacher said no to a few weeks of intense phonics only lessons before we start the book. Then when subbing for my 6th grade co T she asked me why a boy didn't know any ABC's or anything at all really. I told her b/c he never learned phonics.

She said I need to teach them that.(lulz didn't I just ask to do that and you said no??) I kindly explained that last year he was in a low level 5th grade group who had two extra lessons per week and I did phonics with them every time for half their lessons. But he and his friends were too busy coming in 20+ mins late, goofing off, etc.  Then she said well English is not important to him or in Korea.

Then I realized why she said no to the phonics to start 3rd grade. God forbid they learn to read so they can self study/actually learn something in class. So I don't want to hear this it's the teacher not the student b/s.

And I am not directing that at you Wintermute, more so at the system and the lack of accountability here. Then they point fingers at us and say well I guess NET's just can't teach. You can't teach the unwilling.  /"ESL" in Korea rant

And, I don't see anything wrong with leaving if you really hate it that much. It's your life and you only have one. Why spend part of it doing something you dread?


  • newb
  • Newgookin

    • 0

    • November 20, 2012, 10:38:27 am
    • South Korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2013, 08:03:42 am »
Quote
Quit.  Is it worth your sanity.

mods still allow these post? oi

leave while you're not assimilated.
HEY CAN YOU FILL THE OIL AND CHECK THE GAS PLEASE!!!!


  • flasyb
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1901

    • November 30, 2010, 12:10:03 pm
    • South Korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2013, 08:15:48 am »


Quote
Your students are tired because many of them have jobs that they work after school - a lot of my students did farming work after school but others worked in restaurants.

Cry me a river, in high school not one teacher would care if I had a late night at work the day before at the restaurant. School was still my responsibility.

HAHA! I found the Republican!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 08:18:05 am by flasyb »
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

We are not "guests" in Korea. Korea didn't invite us over for Pimms in the garden. We are paid employees.


  • iseya
  • Expert Waygook

    • 704

    • February 15, 2012, 06:14:49 pm
    • USA
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2013, 08:23:35 am »
Yeah, if you're in a tech. highschool, you should be severely lowering your expectations.  I'm at one, and that's what I realized I had to do about 3 weeks into the job.  It's futile to try and conduct these classes like a proper English class.
I could control them if I put on the angry face and went into 'scary teacha' mode, but, it's just not worth it. I dont like to have to do that, and that's not what I signed up for. 

These guys have no incentive or desire to learn--theyre going to pass your class no matter what they do or don't do.  So, I would work on building relationships with them. Not be their friend...but...try to get them to like you, and more importantly, to respect you. 
Find out what theyre into and try to bond over stuff like sports, music, and even hot chicks.

It can be really draining pouring so much energy and time into people who couldnt give a rat's ass about your efforts, so stop wasting your time and energy, and focus on having fun instead.


  • fishead
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1138

    • April 23, 2010, 07:58:05 am
    • Yangju Korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2013, 08:28:16 am »
 You're are being paid to teach English you agreed on a contract unfortunately you were not placed in the optimal situation. Lots of times Native speakers are placed in rural technical schools. The reason for this is fairness it wouldn't be fair if only rich students whose parents could afford to send them oversea's could get the luxery of learning with a Native speaker.

 Firstly the students appear to be poorly motivated and progressing at a poor rate. This may have to do with the fact that all their previous teachers had given up on them.
Therefore they have it in their mind that English with a foreign teacher is just a joke a chance to kick back and relax and do things that obviously would never be tolerated in their other classes. This may not even be your fault. It might be the fault of their afterschool teachers or their hogwan teacher. They play the nice little watch the foreigner fall game. How long do we need to goof of before we can just  watch Simpsons video's.

 The first thing you need to do is get your Korean co-teachers on board. Two years ago I was in a situation where most of my co-teachers just sat at the back of the room and did paperwork. If that's your situation then you need to stop them from doing it. When they bring their little paper job into the classroom they are communicating to the students that studying English conversation is not important.

 Start every class with a group bow. This makes a big difference. Your students will learn that your class is no different to their other classes. Behavour will change maybe not overnight. Try to get them to do at least 10 minutes each class drilling listen and repeat. I know you might think this may be boring but it's neccesary. Eventually you can introduce pairwork, surveys, running dications and information gaps.


  • StuntMan
  • Waygookin

    • 21

    • September 05, 2012, 09:41:14 am
    • South Korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2013, 09:27:55 am »
Sorry to hear. I know it's a rough situation, and especially disappointing when you've worked so hard to get here in the first place. Don't worry though, your not alone. :)

I'm in a similar situation. I'm at (literally) the worst high school in my province. It's a high school for all the kids that were kicked out of, too poor or low-levelled, and/or too violent for any of the other high schools. The kids smoke in the bathrooms and the teachers are blatantly aware, but don't stop them.They fight, make a huge ruckus, and if I'm lucky they sleep quietly. Otherwise it's a battle to keep them sitting in one place. There's been a couple of reports about students getting into gang fights on the bus on the way to school, as well as a couple of students who were arrested for drinking in public... They were in first grade high school.

What makes it worse is that the korean teachers here don't care, as they are only here to get the extra points they receive for teaching at a school like this. The extra points are a requirement for them to qualify as vice-principals and principals.

Also, I'm technically still within the region of a MOE, even though I stay in a smaller town than all my friends in POEs, and because of this I don't receive the added pay that teachers in POEs get. I also have serious apartment issues, but I won't go into them now. Honestly, I was quite properly screwed inthis situation. The people in charge are well aware that some of us will be getting properly screwed... Trust me.

I disagree with what some posters have said about it being mostly the teacher's fault that you can't contain them properly. When you speak another language, and have students refuse to give you there phones, or throw desks around the class when you try to get them to sit in another seat, there's not much you can do. I've had the experience of teaching in several countries and have had experience teaching students of various levels and I can honestly say that it is infinitely harder teaching bad, low-levelled students. Most people wouldn't last a month in our situations. So my advice is to stick to it, bear with it, save as much cash as you can, and walk away after your year knowing that you beat it. You'll be all the stronger, wiser, and more patient. Trust me.

If you ever need to vent, PM me.
:)


  • StuntMan
  • Waygookin

    • 21

    • September 05, 2012, 09:41:14 am
    • South Korea
Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2013, 09:35:08 am »
I must also agree with flasyb. He's hit the nail straight on the head. This is NOT real ESL teaching. If you see it as such, you will only end up disappointed. Stop trying to teach them, and instead just focus on keeping them occupied.


Re: Public school: tougher than I thought
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2013, 09:37:28 am »
What do you think, guys? What should I do? Any words of advice?

I think you should sack up. You just described my own situation accurately, yeah its tough and it sucks getting used to it but they compensate us with thousands of dollars. You certainly knew you could end up in a bad situation when you signed the contract blind, just because some people have it better than us doesn't mean we can't learn to deal with it and turn a negative situation into a positive one. Give it some time and don't cry in your soup. Best of luck.