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  • cattato
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • January 16, 2019, 05:12:45 am
    • South Korea
Coteacher conflict advice?
« on: May 11, 2019, 08:15:36 am »
So I've only been in the Epik program for 3 months so far. Teaching is still this really new thing to me.  Anyway, I have 1 co teacher I'll talk about her first cause she is the worst. Even the person I replaced told me she is just awful. And she is. She is an awful teacher.  I hate working with her.  She makes me wanna go home.  But what she does that bothers me. Is she breaths down my neck when I do anything. She makes me make the new expressions PPT and a quiz for the kids. And she always hates it. She's never happy and nitpicks every thing. When she's annoyed and frustrated she always chuckles.  Then she says something that makes me feel bad. Like "I think you don't know what to teach" or "where did you learn how to do PowerPoint?  I think you don't know how to use PowerPoint."  Then she apparently calls my main coteacher to bitch about my teaching. But it's like she doesn't even let me teach and when she doesnt help me? We teach 3rd grade together so I find it super hard to teach kids who don't understand me at all no English at all.  She only cares about the PPT. She doesn't offer any helpful advice. She's only super ciritcal of everything I do. Im afraid of next week cause she's making me lead for once and I know she's gonna have something negative to say about me. Like usual. It's so hard to not let it get too you. I don't wanna deal with her for a whole year. I just want her to let me do my part. I'll make the PPT and quiz and game. Just let me do it my way and help me with translation and classroom management. Not that she's good at classroom management but I'm worse than her on that. So I force her to control them even tho she doesn't want too.  But  Why is that so hard. It should not be.  She doesn't want to do anything fun for the kids either. If I put their interests she gets mad at me, if I praise the kids she gets mad at me.  I can't build a rapport with the 3rd graders cause she might get mad at me if I'm actually nice and friendly towards them. Probably let's be honest. What do I do? What on Earth do I do. That's 1.


2. My main coteacher she is a nice person but she's real blunt and unhelpful sometimes. She compares me a lot to the teacher I replaced. She doesn't right out say it but she does cause she told be twice that the school expects me to be better than the pervious teacher. The pervious teacher was apparently really good. She tells me my teaching is below average and that I disappointed the vice principal. That she has to call the DMOE to "talk" about my teaching. Which is dumb cause they can't do anything.  I know I'm not the best at teaching but it's only cause I have no training in teaching. I started from level 0 when I got here. Epik doesn't hire teachers. They hire random ass ppl who they believe can be teachers. And that means having zero ability in the beginning.  I do my best but it's not enough. I don't know what to do. 🙃 I want a good evaluation. But it seems like everyone is aganist me but one teacher. I only have one co teacher who is helpful and offers constructive criticism. She's the only one who doesn't complain to my main about me. So I dunno how she feels about me but she always tell me when she thinks I'm doing better. :) The other Co I have is a temp teacher cause the one I usually work with went on maternity leave. So I don't even know if she's coming back. But she also talks to me like I'm dumb. And we are the same age and she just started teaching this year as well. I'm not stupid. I don't know why no one wants to let me do my job and why they are so harsh about it when I try to do it so I can get better. They always tell me one thing and do something else. They say lead the class but then they lead the class.  Like what do you want from me? I'm trying to get better I am but it's hard when it feels like no one is in my corner. It's like why should I care anymore if they are just gonna constantly put me down and not offer anything I can use.  How do you deal with schools who are not supportive of your teaching development?


Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2019, 10:10:27 am »
Hi cattato,

Really really sorry to read about the situation you've ended up in.  That really is the worst case scenario for new teachers.  Something you said sums up the EPIK program in a nutshell...

Quote
Epik doesn't hire teachers. They hire random ass ppl who they believe can be teachers.

You hit the nail on the head.  What do they expect from someone with no experience?  So my suggestion is not to be hard on yourself because that's totally on them, not you.  I would even make that point to them and literally ask them what they expect you to do. 

The answer is that they expect you to "get good" and to do it quickly, without any fuss.  That's hard.  I'd say it took me a year to figure out how to make decent lessons.  It all comes with practice so just stick at it.  I learned a lot from Waygook, busyteacher, all those ESL teaching sites and eventually just found my own style.

Could you get hold of some of the previous teacher's PPTs and use those as a model to make your own?  Have you been assigned a mentor yet?  That should be helpful.

You've been unluckily burdened with nasty and unsupportive coworkers so you have to somehow try to ignore their catty behaviour and let your good work and effort speak for itself. 


  • oglop
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1906

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2019, 10:51:37 am »
ah, the old, "we expect you to be a perfect teacher, but we aren't going to help you improve, give you advice, or give you any training, despite knowing you don't have any teaching experience" situation


  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3194

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2019, 11:13:35 am »
Upload your PPTs to waygook.org. We'll give you feedback (and use them in our classes).


  • tomoakleaf
  • Veteran

    • 153

    • September 22, 2012, 03:38:47 pm
    • South Korea
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2019, 12:04:09 pm »
I think they only thing I can give you is some 'virtual tissues' and give you a pat on the back and tell you that 'it'll all be okay.'


  • Cyanea
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1054

    • September 04, 2016, 01:48:24 pm
    • Las Vegas
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2019, 04:30:51 pm »
They insist on hiring the most inexperienced, youngest people they can possibly find (filtering out those with qualifications or experience). They hire based on youth and american-ness, because to Koreans, being younger = being better and america= the world. So dumb.
Catch my drift?


  • oglop
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1906

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2019, 05:25:58 pm »
They insist on hiring the most inexperienced, youngest people they can possibly find (filtering out those with qualifications or experience). They hire based on youth and american-ness, because to Koreans, being younger = being better and america= the world. So dumb.
yep. this way they can also pay them less, and younger/experienced workers are more likely to do what they're told without any pushback/conflict


  • thunderlips
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1423

    • June 07, 2012, 10:01:55 am
    • South Korea
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2019, 09:28:52 pm »
Your cot sounds like a head case. She is probably a contract teacher and views you as a threat. You have two options as I see it. 1) do what they say and get better, no idea how youre going to do that immediately though. 2) fight back on everything. Tell her you will be happy to make ppts and that you will teach them. Correct her English in front of the students even minor mistakes. Ask her to repeat herself to you because you cant understand her English.

Neither of my points are really helpful. your situation is absolutely terrible. You may need to contact your coordinator and have a sit down. Ask them to come and review your classes. Make a detailed list of their crazy demands and ask for their advice on how to move forward.

Also this petty behavior is very common among the locals. Dont get too stressed out if possible it really is a shit show.

Good luck though.


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 70

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2019, 12:47:10 pm »
Sorry to hear that cattato,

The best advice I can give is, as hard as it might be, try not to take any of it personally. You will 100% get more comfortable and better at teaching until eventually it's like second nature and with that, your co-teacher will also get used to how you do things. She'll just be trying to mould you into the kind of co-teacher she wants as much as she can because she'll think that'll make her job easier. Everyone's different though and eventually you all learn to work together.

Also, I think it helps to have the mindset of "I am a professional teacher now, I went through all the training to be here and this is what you hired me to do, so let me do it." Which may sound strange but I know it can feel like "I'm a new foreigner here, I've never taught before, I don't know what I'm doing." but just remind yourself that regardless of experience levels you are a teacher just like all the other staff and you're going to have your own way of doing things, as will EVERY other teacher in the world. I remember when I arrived at my new school and observed classes of teachers who had been there for months or years and even then there were things which I thought "I wouldn't do it like that" and it kind of put me at ease to see that they were just like me, trying to work out the best way to do things, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

I don't have any experience with EPIK but this is one of the reasons I wanted to work at private schools without a co-teacher so I was free to implement my own style. I'm like you and literally started from 0 teaching experience 6 months ago (my first school shut down 4 months into the contract so I've even changed schools in that 6 months) and I knew it would take me a while to get to grips with things, so I didn't want the added pressure of being judged all the time by a co-teacher as well.

Another thing I would say is, these schools and the staff working for them have seen hundreds of foreign teachers pass through the doors, some stay for a few years, others do one year and then leave. So for them we foreigners can sometimes just be seen as a temporary commodity for 12 months until the next teacher arrives, so they don't see the point in investing time into you to help you improve and just want you to magically become an A* professional teacher.


Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2019, 01:40:22 pm »
Hm...yeah this seems tricky. Dont feel the need to take my advice, you probably wont like it so dont worry if you dont :P

If i were you, id ask her if she has any time during the week because i had a few questions to ask her, and then whatever time she isnt busy, id go to her office, bring a nice treat (i live near a small bakery that sells really good tarts n stuff, not like...paris baguette crap) and first thank her for all the help she has done for me and for being so patient with me.
Then id tell her that i feel like im not doing well and if she could please give me some feedback about my classes.
If she tells me i suck at this and that, id tell her that i really am trying my best and i really want to help and basically try to have a heart to heart with her.
Errr also, i would say every sentence as i, not you dont let me do this, you make me do that,, you you you. Id say, I want to lead the class but maybe im not doing it the way that is good for you or the students?..
:P

If nothing improves, i wouldnt let that kind of critique get to me or have it visibly shown on my face.

Also i dont know if you know this, but whenever a new teacher comes to a school (not just a new teacher, but a teacher whos never taught at their newly assigned school), its normal for them to give a little snack or something to the whole faculty/staff/teachers. Its kind of like 잘 부탁하세요 aka i look forward to working with you!~

Obv you dont have to do that. But it didnt hurt further my relationships w/ all teachers in general.

You could at least do it to all your English teachers.
Maybe on a friday, you can buy them all a little snack, write a small note, and give it to them. Youd be surprise, a little snack goes a long way :)

Good luck!


  • Cyanea
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1054

    • September 04, 2016, 01:48:24 pm
    • Las Vegas
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2019, 05:22:15 pm »
These abusive situations are commonplace, almost normal in public school positions yet everyone still thinks they are superior to hogwons?
Catch my drift?


  • SanderB
  • Super Waygook

    • 422

    • June 02, 2018, 06:25:54 pm
    • Gouda cheese Be Best cheese
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2019, 05:33:47 pm »
I'm a teacher trainer at my school. First you need to create a lessonplan.

time........ activity .....learning goal  teacher 1  teacher 2  students  materials
5 min
10 min
10 min
20 min
5 min
3 min--> repeat main lesson goals

Show that to your co-teacher so you can point out her negative interference with your parts to her after class. Also show a simplified version of it to the students. You can also differentiate your part by taking out groups of students to another room and teach them without your co-t. (3 groups of 10 for 15 min. each)

Any real help can only be given if you link a video of yourself teaching, or mock teaching at home. pm me if you want help from me, but many of the longterm teachers here have great insights, too.

You can self-help by reading ''Teach like a champ'' https://drive.google.com/file/d/1So6Yrm1JamRH0wG3sJMqfvQkT4l7ONZu/view?usp=sharing

https://www.thoughtco.com/techniques-from-teach-like-a-champion-3111081 which is primarily aimed at Americans. Not saying I recommend his techniques but it's a good start for North Americans.
You can watch Youtube, too. We teachers learn best through intervision, by watching other experienced teachers.

https://youtu.be/u086rr7SRso?list=RDQMgC_Sh00MHI8&t=138

sideburn at Marty: Hey mate, I'm not seeing any of those terribly misbehaving children at these US schools?  :rolleyes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC0ltKOwF_A&list=RDQMgC_Sh00MHI8&start_radio=1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar-31jygtAk
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 06:02:33 pm by SanderB »
Fiat voluntas tua- All that you want is allowed


Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2019, 06:06:47 pm »
I was in a similar position to you in my first year. I worked hard at my school but I just got abuse from a couple of ajummas. Same kind of things - passive aggressive behaviour, them telling me to improve and threatening to call the office of education.

I found that with Korean colleagues if they see that you are a new teacher and unsure about your teaching then they will highlight your weaknesses and rub them in your face. Try and improve your lessons as much as possible, stick to the main phrases in each chapter of the book and make fun activities around them. Go into class confident and with a smile on your face - don't let their behaviour get you down.

The comment above about buying snacks or something is a good idea too.  I know it's hard to do this with nasty colleagues but killing them with kindness might help a bit. If the nastiness carries on then try not to let it get you down, keep your head up and be assertive. If you stay in Korea your next workplace will be much better.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 06:15:51 pm by belo horizonte »


Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2019, 08:25:59 am »
I went through a similar situation in my first year. Many posters are assuming your colleague's criticism is fair which is in no way a given. After repeated criticism I took the edge off of my situation completely by accident by asking to observe their solo lessons so I could take notes on classroom management. I was totally sincere since I believed I really was doing a bad job and their classes must be going so much better. Immediately following my request most of the complaints stopped and they had a lot less to say about me in general.

What worked for me:

1) Prepare materials for every class (and edit or use as is if possible; Waygook is a great resource). Make sure the English is perfect and in line with the textbooks. Always send the materials to your colleagues using the school messenger service so there's proof you're providing materials. They don't have to use them, and they may tell you they don't want them, but send them anyway.

2) Check and correct every single thing your colleagues give to the students. Message them about the mistakes you've found. They may hate it but it's part of your job, and again there's electronic proof. If you keep finding errors in PPTs and the like ask them to send them to you before class so you can proofread them.

3) Don't buy them snacks, gifts, or whatever. This is subservient and rewards abusive behavior. Additionally it can be a bit of a minefield even if you're on good terms with your colleagues. In my first year I bought a bag of oranges for the teacher's room and got told off because they were more expensive than the fruit a passive-aggressive colleague had bought for the room. \_(ツ)_/

4) Sander B has some good tips on lesson plans but this could fail if your colleagues are not willing to work with you to create them. I've attached a lesson plan template that you can fill-in-the-blanks with your own stuff, if you need it.


Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2019, 09:10:51 am »
SNIP. Smile, nod, ignore, proceed. The truth is that if they wanted highly qualified teachers then they should pay for people with more experience or credentials.


  • lhelena
  • Waygookin

    • 23

    • March 11, 2018, 01:57:14 pm
    • Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2019, 09:19:10 am »
robin_teacher makes a good point about the gifts. For one, in this situation it makes you seem like a bit of a kiss-ass which isn't what you want to go for in your situation. Also recently, for EPIK, they've been discouraging the gift giving. It used to be most new EPIK teachers were encouraged to bring something with them from their home country or to buy something with their first paycheck as long as it's under 30,000 won. However, they made a post on Facebook for I think last fall intake saying to stop bringing gifts. Korea has a very big problem with bribery, so it may have something to do with that. (I only bring something when I travel and it has always been cheap snacks.)

Also for your situation it makes it seem like you don't have a problem with their treatment of you if you start bringing them gifts. I think if I were in you r situation I would use some other teacher's plans as a framework as well as, like robin_teacher said, ask to sit in on one of their solo lessons and take notes.  As far as contacting an EPIK coordinator, I've sadly seen them not do very much to help teachers recently. It seems they're more interested in keeping the schools happy, rather than making sure they are following the contract and treating the teachers decently. I think it is still something you should do if only to have someone else in the know on your situation as well as a more official form of documentation.

I hope all the advice given in this thread does you some good. I'm really sorry you're in such a crappy situation. I wish you the best going forward.  :azn:


  • kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 5033

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2019, 10:00:12 am »
As far as contacting an EPIK coordinator, I've sadly seen them not do very much to help teachers recently. It seems they're more interested in keeping the schools happy, rather than making sure they are following the contract and treating the teachers decently. I think it is still something you should do if only to have someone else in the know on your situation as well as a more official form of documentation.
    Just want to chime in with the fact that EPIK coordinators have little to no actual authority to do anything.  Their job is essentially to listen to complaints, give advice when applicable (often without any translated resources to draw from),  and to bring any problems that simple advice can't solve to the MOE/POE. The MOE/POE then does whatever it feels like, and then has the coordinator break the news to the teacher. It's a pretty thankless job, honestly, as the teachers inevitably blame the coordinator for all the crap the MOE/POE pulls.  :sad:


Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2019, 10:09:04 am »
The comment above about buying snacks or something is a good idea too.  I know it's hard to do this with nasty colleagues but killing them with kindness might help a bit. If the nastiness carries on then try not to let it get you down, keep your head up and be assertive. If you stay in Korea your next workplace will be much better.
thanks for getting where im coming from.
my intention is to break the ice and a lot of koreans do that around food/munchies and honestly they can be pretty hospitable in that way. and if youve never had that experience, i honestly feel sorry for you :(

in the end, you do what feels right to you.


  • lhelena
  • Waygookin

    • 23

    • March 11, 2018, 01:57:14 pm
    • Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2019, 10:37:22 am »
As far as contacting an EPIK coordinator, I've sadly seen them not do very much to help teachers recently. It seems they're more interested in keeping the schools happy, rather than making sure they are following the contract and treating the teachers decently. I think it is still something you should do if only to have someone else in the know on your situation as well as a more official form of documentation.
    Just want to chime in with the fact that EPIK coordinators have little to no actual authority to do anything.  Their job is essentially to listen to complaints, give advice when applicable (often without any translated resources to draw from),  and to bring any problems that simple advice can't solve to the MOE/POE. The MOE/POE then does whatever it feels like, and then has the coordinator break the news to the teacher. It's a pretty thankless job, honestly, as the teachers inevitably blame the coordinator for all the crap the MOE/POE pulls.  :sad:
Yeah in my POE there were schools, mine and a friend's were some, that literally ignored the renewal bonus agreement from last year's contract and went with the crappy new one on this year's contract to get around paying us 2 mil won. When my friend questioned our coordinator on it (it's an obvious violation of our contracts because the renewal bonus is the final term to be fulfilled from the previous year's contract before the contract period ends and the new one starts) he said they were allowed to go with the new year's contract instead of following the one we agreed on. So yeah they'll basically allow the schools to do whatever because they have no power and the POE will most likely side with the schools. :/ One of many reasons I will be leaving and looking for a private academy job for next year. I know they aren't perfect but I'm done with EPIK trying to make themselves look like the golden child and taking dumps on hagwons whenever they get the chance.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2019, 10:41:00 am by lhelena »


  • debbiem89
  • Super Waygook

    • 489

    • August 30, 2016, 09:42:49 am
    • South Korea
Re: Coteacher conflict advice?
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2019, 03:26:40 pm »
You need to be assertive, not rude or unwilling to take their "advice" but assert yourself right now.. If you don't do that now, they are gonna swallow you WHOLE.

My first school treated me like garbage and I took it and kept my head down, nothing changed. It was hell. They had me fully believing I was crap and it got to the point they wouldn't say a word to me outside of classes. Second time around I really made an effort to put on a strong front (even when I felt like they were really getting to me). Don't get me wrong, I've had some rubbish co teachers this time around too, but I don't let them treat me the same.

I agree with what others have said. First, try reaching out to the teacher before you, if at all possible get her to send you a typical ppt that she made (as they seem to like her style). To be honest though, they might have treated her the same way and all this talk about how amazing she was is just to belittle you.

Then, I'd probably arrange a time to meet with her. Sit down with some trash mix coffee and hash it out. Take a notepad and make notes (even if her ideas are stupid). Make a huge point of bringing lots of ideas with you. Be really prepared. Say your piece, what is bothering you and what you need moving forward. Don't let her interrupt and speak really directly (again not rude or anything just very clear). They say don't do that in Korea...absolute crap...she needs the shock that you aren't some teenager she can manipulate and boss around.

Also let your coordinator know. They CAN'T always do much about CoT conflicts, their hands are tied to an extent BUT they are really experienced and can give you advice. I would just mention your concerns and ask them to keep it between yourselves.

Just know teaching when you've never done it before is really tough, three months is not a long period of time. You WILL get loads better. You'll learn what works and what doesn't. Talk to the students and build that rapport no matter what she does, if she yells at you do the aforementioned SNIP.

Last piece of advice....start giving less of a shit what they think of you. I wish I'd done that from the get go.