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  • blue96
  • Newgookin

    • 2

    • September 18, 2020, 01:21:14 am
I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« on: September 18, 2020, 06:54:28 pm »
Hello all,

 First-time poster here, looking for advice. Iím a public school teacher ( at 2 schools) and have recently gone through a situation at one of them that has left me extremely distressed and honestly doubting if I want to stick around any longer.


For some background, this is my first year teaching in Korea, but I have a teaching degree in America, TESL certification, and a few yearsí worth of teaching under my belt. Iím not new to the rodeo, so to speak. Adjusting has been a little  difficult due to all the COVID restrictions, but Iíve tried to roll with the punches and adapt - overall I thought I was doing pretty successfully! Students were learning and performing well enough on their assessments, the dysfunction was manageable, etc.

The problem happened a couple weeks ago. To start, probably 60% of this schoolís classes have been online so far (students only started physically coming into school in June, and even then itís only one grade in school per day on a rotating schedule). I teach there two days a week, with two different co-teachers. I do all the planning, materials, and teaching myself, and the CTs really only serve to translate here and there to the students. Iím not a huge fan of the textbooks, so I make all of my own materials, PPTs, etc, and just refer to the textbook when weíre completing the page activities or rehearsing dialogue. For online activities, we do Kahoot, answer questions about video clips, do partner dialogues over Zoom, a few interactive worksheets, etc etc. I really try to vary the activities as much as possible. Most of the students just log into the session, mute it, and go back to bed, but I work with what I got (can't blame 'em  :wink: )

Whenever I ask for help or advice regarding a class, Iím told by the CTs that ďOh we are so busyĒ or ďThe class is your responsibilityĒ or "Do what you think is best." Okay, sure. I'm independent enough, it' not too big of an issue.

Because of the COVID restrictions I donít have a lot of interaction with the students, and my CTs donít keep me updated on the students or their educational needs, even if I ask.
 If I ask if I should do anything for the next lessons or target certain fields, Iím always told the same ďItís okayĒ or ďYou can do what you want.Ē No feedback on my lessons from the CTs either, positive or negative. Itís a little frustrating being so out of touch with the students, but I was operating on a no-news-is-good-news basis.

The next stage of the problem:

One of the CTs is perfectly fine, but a few months ago my ďmainĒ CT/the one in charge of me (Iíll call her ďBĒ) started acting weird around me. She had initially been very friendly and helpful, but a few months ago she suddenly did a complete 180. She wasnít directly hostile, but she started cold-shouldering me and more or less totally ignoring me. Thatís fine, I donít need to be friends with her, but I couldnít help but wonder where this weird attitude came from. I figure I accidentally slighted her in some bizarre unnoticeable-to-me way  :rolleyes: . I eventually asked her if I had done anything wrong and if I could make things better/repair our relationship. She brushed me off with ďIím just tired this weekĒ like okay sure, but youíve been acting like this for months. Whatever, she can do her own weird thing, it's still not that big of an issue.

However, last week B and my other co-teacher told me we were going to have a ďteacher meetingĒ and herded me into an empty classroom. Then, B told me that Iím not a good teacher and not good at what I do. I was pretty shocked by this, naturally. She then continued by saying the students donít like my classes, that my lessons are bad, that Iím lazy, that Iím not prepared, etcÖ. which is all brand new news to me! She told me that Iím bad because I teach from the textbook (whichÖ. they had told me to do) and because my lessons donít have ďfun activitiesĒ (which, because weíre mostly online, is pretty hard to do. Kahoot is really the only sort of online game that works with my 25+ student online classes, and even then they donít like playing it because no rewards :( )

B also told me that my performance had been very bad for the new term, which is sort of funny because the term had just started the week before and Iíd taught three total days so far.

 I briefly excused myself to compose myself (cry for 3 minutes in the bathroom lol), then came back and sat down and told B that what she said to me was extremely rude and disrespectful. I also told her that her behavior toward me in the past few months had been very disorienting and unhelpful. This really ****** her off. Maybe I overstepped a boundary, but what she said really stung and I did feel enormously disrespected. I've worked hard to get where I am, and am just as much of a teacher as she is.

I explained to B and my other CT that Iím totally willing to accept criticism and change, but that I felt pretty bowled over because they had been letting me teach like this for 6 months without any complaint or issue, but then suddenly Iím a bad teacher who does everything wrong. I know the lessons can be dull, but Iím genuinely limited in what I can do - 40 minutes of online class plus 25 sleepy students isnít a really conductive environment. I know Iím not perfect, but thereís been zero indication from the CTs or students that my teaching is ďterribleĒ until now.

I said my piece, and then B blew up at me and stormed out of the room. I was a mess the rest of the day, totally shattered. Iíve spent years studying to be a teacher and wanting to teach abroad, and gave up a really good job in the USA so I could come here for the ~ experience ~. To be told that Iím bad at what I do shook up my confidence quite a bit

I sort of brought up the situation with the head of the Eng. department at my other (main) school, and listed the complaints B had against me. Eng head was confused, and said she hadnít ever noticed any of these issues with my teaching before. I know different schools have different expectations, but I take the same general approach to both of mine, and itís been highly successful at my main school.

 Later that evening I sent B a message suggesting that we need to work on communicating better on what is expected and needed for the students so we can move forward from this. She replied telling me that Iím not allowed to talk to her anymore. Great!

Anyway, this week rolls up and I get called into a ďnew term expectationsĒ meeting with my CTs and the VP (who is usually very nice and encouraging toward me).

As it turns out, itís basically an interrogation. The VP has a list of ďperformance issuesĒ of mine that B has obviously written, and scolds me on them.

They include:
- Iím boring
- Students donít understand me
- Iím lazy
- Iím not prepared
- I talk too much like a native speaker (??)
- I disrespect students (what??)
- Students donít like my classes
- Iím crazy and mentally unstable
- My classes arenít ďfunĒ
- I donít teach the students what they need to know (despite explicitly teaching from the textbook and all its target phrases/preparing them for the tests)
- I need to teach them speaking and listening (thatís literally what iíve done all year so far?)
- etc etc etc

B was obviously expecting me to cry or have a meltdown, but I kept a hold on myself and managed to explain/defend myself in a pretty coherent way, fortunately. I explained to VP that I felt a little shocked and misled because no one had told me there were such severe issues with my performance for 6 months, and B butted in and said itís because Iím mentally unstable, and that whenever she tried to give me advice or help me I would start screaming and crying (which isÖÖ untrue lol), so her and other CT didnít want to talk to me about my classes. I countered with the needs of the students should always be prioritized over my own personal issues :) which got her all pissy again. Luckily the VP didn't seem upset or disappointed with me, just told me to work hard this term and "listen to my co-teachers."

My CTs kept insisting that I need to do "fun activities in class." When I asked for what sort of activities, they told me that I need to research online. When I asked what sort of fun activities THEY do for their classes, they just told me I need to do fun activities for my class. Which is.... telling, lol.

Ultimately I just ended up smiling and nodding and promised VP that Iíll be sure to work really hard this term and do lots of fun activities!!!!!!!!

But overall, this situation has left a really bad taste in my mouth. I feel that B is actively out for me now, possibly trying to set the stage to get rid of me or mess up my reputation, and nothing I do will ever change that. I could be the best teacher in the world and nothing would make a difference to these people because my word and performance doesn't matter compared to how my CT paints me. Moreover, sheís evidently badmouthing me to other teachers, and I feel like the situation can only escalate from here - I feel backed into a corner.

Like I said, I've taught before, and have heard plenty of critique and made mistakes. but never before have I been abruptly told that I'm bad at what I do and then been lied about to a superior.

Iíve also been wondering if thereís something going on behind the scenes, but itís not like Iíll actually ever know.

(Lord, this probably should have gone in the rant thread, sorry!)

I guess this is what I need advice on - Where do I go from here? just SNIP? How do I handle B? Keep my head down and let students watch youtube videos the whole period for each online class? Let them do ďĒĒfunĒĒ" word searches every live class? I know theyíre going to be watching me like a hawk for performance issues to build their case as to why Iím The Worst, and I donít know if I should try to play nice, assert myself, or just phone it in.

Iím pretty upset about this whole situation, and am doubting renewal due to corona + B. Or, maybe Iím just being an oversensitive brat. Advice? Comments? Anyone with a similar experience? Any insight would be appreciated :~)


  • NorthStar
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1364

    • July 05, 2017, 10:54:06 am
    • Mouseville
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2020, 06:56:28 am »
Koreans love employees they can push around and get shattered.  Then again, you may be a genuine threat tot kimchi-brain-trust there at the school. 

You are being carpet bombed and multiple folks in on it.  It seems you will be putting out fires from here on.  \

You have three choices.

1.  Leave...which it seems, is the desired outcome.
2.  Stand up for yourself and let folks know you will not be treated this way. 
3.  Cower.

« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 07:16:30 am by NorthStar »


  • stoat
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1738

    • March 05, 2019, 06:36:13 pm
    • seoul
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2020, 07:19:18 am »
Did you try to apply for jobs at international schools? Most people seem to think Public schools aren't really suitable for qualified teachers with experience
« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 07:39:41 am by stoat »


  • theman3285
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1031

    • June 16, 2017, 09:01:06 am
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2020, 09:21:30 am »
Is this Elementary school? Middle?

Sounds pretty much like my first year here (2016). Didn't quite escalate to getting the VP involved, but it was hell on Earth. Definitely the darkest time of my entire life. But I knew I wanted to stay in Korea for a few more years, so I decided to ride it out. I changed schools/towns the following year and it's been nothing but smooth sailing since.

It's so strange that they'd go to such extreme lengths. You're a contract teacher on an annual cycle. So why not just shut their pieholes, deal with it, and wait for you to move on? Bizarre.

I agree, you should be looking at international schools. What are you qualified to teach?




Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2020, 11:15:08 am »
Transfer or leave

It sounds like you're dealing with your typical, run-of-the-mill, toxic Korean workplace culture, which is one of the reasons people commit suicide, more than 60% of the population wants to emigrate (80% of young Korean women) and you still have high-school students who haven't learned the English alphabet. You're not alone here, you just landed a shitty school.

If you were really incompetent and they were concerned about improving the situation, as you say, they would've suggested alternative pedagogical strategies. "You're boring" is not constructive criticism from a professional, these are the words from people who understand little about teaching a language.

Here's my take on what's going on at your school:

The Korean English education system is awful and based around cohort progression; students are promoted regardless of performance. Your students have been spoon fed and dumbed-down since kindergarten and teachers prioritize entertaining students, regardless of whether they learn anything or not because when students don't get their way or feel like the work is marginally challenging they complain to the parents.

The parents come with hell and fury to your co-workers and principal who meekly cower their heads and "apologize".

The virus has shook things up. Now, Minsu can't chat to his friends in class, get a passing grade and not do a damn thing. Now, he's studying at home and, for the first time, his parents are watching him during an English lesson. They're seeing, for the first time, that after more than half a decade of education, Minsu can't understand squat in English. Instead of suffer the wrath of his mother, Minsu blames the NET for making the lessons "boring" and obviously it's the native English speaker's fault for speaking their own language in a way that a boneheaded 12yr old Korean kid can't understand.

Minsu blames the NET, Minsu's mom complains to the school and your CT and VP are more than happy to shift the blame to the lazy, incompetent foreigner.

Don't waste your skills and talents with these incompetent lowlifes, transfer or leave.


  • CO2
  • Waygook Lord

    • 6269

    • March 02, 2015, 03:41:14 pm
    • Uiwang
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2020, 01:02:11 pm »
The amount of times I hear these stories...... What is wrong with people?

And why does learning a language have to be fun? Shut up and study.

Are they asking the math teacher to be fun?

And if you can't figure out "What's that?" or "Where are you going?" by middle school, that is entirely on your shoulders. You could literally have a teacher that lessened your knowledge in a subject and still learn that sentence.

If someone studied Korean part time, even being forced to, for 5 years and they didn't know 이것 뭐요? or 어디가요? No one would blame Koreans for not being fun enough. They'd think the student was an absolute moron.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 01:04:59 pm by CO2 »
The first thing to say is that this is definitely not pyramid selling, OK?


Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2020, 02:17:58 pm »
Itís definitely not your fault so donít let them shit on you. Tell that teacher ďBĒ to go kick rocks. 

Contact your regional coordinator and let them know the situation. Ask to have someone from the regional education office come to the school to assess your abilities in an open class. You can also try filing a complaint if you feel they are bullying you.

Good luck and hope you get past this bs. Transfer on your next contract and let the new net know about the issues there.


  • dippedinblush
  • Super Waygook

    • 414

    • November 21, 2013, 11:15:05 am
    • Yangpyeong, South Korea
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2020, 10:54:56 pm »
The amount of times I hear these stories...... What is wrong with people?

And why does learning a language have to be fun? Shut up and study.

Are they asking the math teacher to be fun?

And if you can't figure out "What's that?" or "Where are you going?" by middle school, that is entirely on your shoulders. You could literally have a teacher that lessened your knowledge in a subject and still learn that sentence.

If someone studied Korean part time, even being forced to, for 5 years and they didn't know 이것 뭐요? or 어디가요? No one would blame Koreans for not being fun enough. They'd think the student was an absolute moron.

It's because we actually talk in English during our classes.  My coteachers talk in buzzword English... 5 sentences in Korean and a few buzzwords of the lesson and then my students can answer.    My students still don't know how to answer... Hi, how are you doing? as opposed to How are you?  (Fine thank u and u)  and I have taught them 1 million times how to do this.

If it's not on the test ....it's worthless.  I don't even know why we are here, honestly.  This country can't figure out what to do with English or why it's here...but it's good for shitty English slogans like this ****** shit "Grand Open" (not grand opening of some store) I see everyday...

I can't correct shitty Konglish that is ingrained nor can I continue to be a squawk box....hmmmm what to do!

I'm so sorry OP for devolving into my own personal stuff, but you should really contact your "coordinator" and let them know that you are being "slandered"  for being "crazy"...etc. and you want to take them to court for trying to make you lose face and stress you out.......(your Principal will not take it further than that) That is the only way you can win.  Tell them you were so embarrassed by their words.  Say that being "crazy" is a horrible insult in your language...isn't it a horrible insult in Korean? (it is ten times worse in Korean)... etc.... Go to an actual Dr and say that you are having stomach problems due to stress from work.  Get pills ...etc...get proof of stress. 

Also remember to write everything down...everyday they try and eff with you...MAKE RECORDS.

But the first thing you do is go to the dr...say you are having stomach trouble or headache trouble etc cause of stress from work... I know my advice sounds bananas but it's how Koreans fight each other.   Get yourself to a dr.

Do this.....and they will stop ****** with you.

« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 11:23:37 pm by dippedinblush »


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 2057

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
    more
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2020, 11:07:21 pm »
... I have a teaching degree in America, TESL certification, and a few yearsí worth of teaching under my belt. Iím not new to the rodeo, so to speak. ...

... she started cold-shouldering me and more or less totally ignoring me. Thatís fine, I donít need to be friends with her, but I couldnít help but wonder where this weird attitude came from. I figure I accidentally slighted her in some bizarre unnoticeable-to-me way  :rolleyes: .

..
 last week B and my other co-teacher told me we were going to have a ďteacher meetingĒ and herded me into an empty classroom. Then, B told me that Iím not a good teacher and not good at what I do. I was pretty shocked by this, naturally. She then continued by saying the students donít like my classes, that my lessons are bad, that Iím lazy, that Iím not prepared, etcÖ.

... Kahoot is really the only sort of online game that works with my 25+ student online classes, and even then they donít like playing it...

... I briefly excused myself to compose myself (cry for 3 minutes in the bathroom lol), then came back and sat down and told B that what she said to me was extremely rude and disrespectful. I also told her that her behavior toward me in the past few months had been very disorienting and unhelpful. This really ****** her off. Maybe I overstepped a boundary, but what she said really stung and I did feel enormously disrespected. I've worked hard to get where I am, and am just as much of a teacher as she is.

... suddenly Iím a bad teacher who does everything wrong. I know the lessons can be dull, but Iím genuinely limited in what I can do - 40 minutes of online class plus 25 sleepy students isnít a really conductive environment. I know Iím not perfect, but thereís been zero indication from the CTs or students that my teaching is ďterribleĒ until now.

... I sent B a message suggesting that we need to work on communicating better on what is expected and needed for the students so we can move forward from this. She replied telling me that Iím not allowed to talk to her anymore. Great!

Anyway, this week rolls up and I get called into a ďnew term expectationsĒ meeting with my CTs and the VP (who is usually very nice and encouraging toward me).

As it turns out, itís basically an interrogation. The VP has a list of ďperformance issuesĒ of mine that B has obviously written, and scolds me on them.

They include:
- Iím boring
- Students donít understand me
- Iím lazy
- Iím not prepared
- I talk too much like a native speaker (??)
- I disrespect students (what??)
- Students donít like my classes
- Iím crazy and mentally unstable
- My classes arenít ďfunĒ
- I donít teach the students what they need to know (despite explicitly teaching from the textbook and all its target phrases/preparing them for the tests)
- I need to teach them speaking and listening (thatís literally what iíve done all year so far?)
- etc etc etc

B was obviously expecting me to cry or have a meltdown, but I kept a hold on myself and managed to explain/defend myself in a pretty coherent way, fortunately. I explained to VP that I felt a little shocked and misled because no one had told me there were such severe issues with my performance for 6 months, and B butted in and said itís because Iím mentally unstable, and that whenever she tried to give me advice or help me I would start screaming and crying (which isÖÖ untrue lol), so her and other CT didnít want to talk to me about my classes. I countered with the needs of the students should always be prioritized over my own personal issues :) which got her all pissy again. Luckily the VP didn't seem upset or disappointed with me, just told me to work hard this term and "listen to my co-teachers."

My CTs kept insisting that I need to do "fun activities in class." When I asked for what sort of activities, they told me that I need to research online. When I asked what sort of fun activities THEY do for their classes, they just told me I need to do fun activities for my class. Which is.... telling, lol.

Ultimately I just ended up smiling and nodding and promised VP that Iíll be sure to work really hard this term and do lots of fun activities!!!!!!!!

But overall, this situation has left a really bad taste in my mouth. I feel that B is actively out for me now, possibly trying to set the stage to get rid of me or mess up my reputation, and nothing I do will ever change that. I could be the best teacher in the world and nothing would make a difference to these people because my word and performance doesn't matter compared to how my CT paints me. Moreover, sheís evidently badmouthing me to other teachers, and I feel like the situation can only escalate...
*Sigh* ... You have made several cultural blunders. It is certainly irreparable at your current position.

In my 18 years here I have seen countless such cases. Buy me a beer and I'll explain. PM me.

But the.upshot still is: You gotta go home or find another place here to teach.

Good luck whatever.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 11:10:39 pm by VanIslander »


  • dippedinblush
  • Super Waygook

    • 414

    • November 21, 2013, 11:15:05 am
    • Yangpyeong, South Korea
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2020, 11:28:52 pm »
Do not listen to VanIslander, (for some reason I think he is the grey alien from American Dad, and every post he writes I hear it in that ridiculous alien voice) (read what I wrote above)
« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 11:36:51 pm by dippedinblush »


  • NorthStar
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1364

    • July 05, 2017, 10:54:06 am
    • Mouseville
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2020, 11:44:15 pm »
I second that...don't listen to VI.


  • NorthStar
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1364

    • July 05, 2017, 10:54:06 am
    • Mouseville
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2020, 11:52:40 pm »
Quote
Quote
It's because we actually talk in English during our classes.  My coteachers talk in buzzword English... 5 sentences in Korean and a few buzzwords of the lesson and then my students can answer.    My students still don't know how to answer... Hi, how are you doing? as opposed to How are you?  (Fine thank u and u)  and I have taught them 1 million times how to do this.

If it's not on the test ....it's worthless.  I don't even know why we are here, honestly.  This country can't figure out what to do with English or why it's here...but it's good for shitty English slogans like this ****** shit "Grand Open" (not grand opening of some store) I see everyday...

I can't correct shitty Konglish that is ingrained nor can I continue to be a squawk box....hmmmm what to do!

I'm so sorry OP for devolving into my own personal stuff, but you should really contact your "coordinator" and let them know that you are being "slandered"  for being "crazy"...etc. and you want to take them to court for trying to make you lose face and stress you out.......(your Principal will not take it further than that) That is the only way you can win.  Tell them you were so embarrassed by their words.  Say that being "crazy" is a horrible insult in your language...isn't it a horrible insult in Korean? (it is ten times worse in Korean)... etc.... Go to an actual Dr and say that you are having stomach problems due to stress from work.  Get pills ...etc...get proof of stress.

Also remember to write everything down...everyday they try and eff with you...MAKE RECORDS.

But the first thing you do is go to the dr...say you are having stomach trouble or headache trouble etc cause of stress from work... I know my advice sounds bananas but it's how Koreans fight each other.   Get yourself to a dr.

Do this.....and they will stop ****** with you.

This is all good stuff...as opposed to VanIslander thinking is somebody worth taking note, from.


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 2057

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
    more
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2020, 12:15:25 am »
Quote
Also remember to write everything down...everyday they try and eff with you...MAKE RECORDS.
If your goal is to be a boxing legend and get your date in the ring: go for it.

I learned long ago to not sweat the details, to focus on the relationships, to never directly refer to the contract (though indirectly talk about expectations).

I have worked 3 years, 3 years, 7 years and now a 4th year at my 4th hagwon happily... why? ... luck to a little degree, research and face-to-face interviews and gut check to a great degree, and an awareness of the cultural pitfalls, mines, and challenges.

The op has expressed stunning BRASH moves that may make sense in New York or Dallas, but they don't fly well here.

Seriously.


  • blue96
  • Newgookin

    • 2

    • September 18, 2020, 01:21:14 am
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2020, 12:35:03 am »

You have three choices.

1.  Leave...which it seems, is the desired outcome.
2.  Stand up for yourself and let folks know you will not be treated this way. 
3.  Cower.

Yeah, it really does seem like me leaving is the desired outcome, though I have no idea why  :sad: I would normally consider the first option because I hate this sort of nonsense and would rather just remove myself entirely, but I've heard that if you leave a public school contract before it's finished, you're basically permanently banned from the system. If things ever get less crazy I might be interested in returning for another shot, so I'm holding off on jumping ship for now.

I guess I'm gonna try to find a balance between 2 and 3... keep my head down to try to keep the peace, but also try to assert myself and my boundaries if they push. No idea how that'll work, but I guess it's worth a shot!



If you were really incompetent and they were concerned about improving the situation, as you say, they would've suggested alternative pedagogical strategies. "You're boring" is not constructive criticism from a professional, these are the words from people who understand little about teaching a language.

Exactly! I would be completely willing to accept the criticism, no questions asked, if they offered a solution or advice or.... hadn't waited six months to tell me out of the blue. If they're going to criticize me, I think that they should at least have some sort of solution or adjustment to validate their point. Especially since I'd previously asked about what students would be interested in learning in or what sorts of things I should do to make online classes more engaging, and was always answered with "It's your class/you can do what you want/you should research online/etc etc."



Here's my take on what's going on at your school:

Minsu blames the NET, Minsu's mom complains to the school and your CT and VP are more than happy to shift the blame to the lazy, incompetent foreigner.


Yeah, I've been tinfoiling that something like this happened, along the lines of:

Class testing scores are lower than usual because of majority online classes -> students don't understand that because of COVID restrictions, foreign teacher can't be the singing dancing English clown and hand out candy -> students complain to  mom that class is boring and they can't learn -> mom calls principal - > principal calls CTs -> blame is handed over to me even though I only teach them English once a week/20% of their total English classes.

Oooor maybe Co-teacher B didn't like that one day I didn't greet her, and has just compiled a list of general pick-and-mix faults to put me back in my place  :rolleyes:

And thanks so much for your take, it seems a harsh but pretty fair assessment of the education system. I know it's genuinely difficult and confusing for students to be learning from home, but their performance (and resulting complaints) is also showing some obvious weak points - not necessarily in the students themselves, but in how they've been learning up until now. I'm not perfect and will certainly shoulder some of the blame, but there's also a lot of other factors.


And why does learning a language have to be fun? Shut up and study.

Are they asking the math teacher to be fun?

Haha exactly! The manic insistence that I need to do fun activities no matter what really threw me for a loop. I don't think I ever expected a class (at least past like the fifth grade) to be "fun" when I was in school. If it was fun that's great, but it was never expected. I understand using constant "fun" for elementary kids to help learn a second language, but mine are teenagers.

I would just love to see the "fun activities" they do for math class or moral education  :rolleyes:

And I understand that there's an age difference, and a cultural difference, but it seems like setting up students to expect fun lessons all the time is also setting them (and teachers) up for a lot of problems later.

I mean, I do want students to enjoy themselves and have fun when possible, but it's not the priority. The priority is getting the information into their heads. ...Which they fundamentally do not want to do with English.



*Sigh* ... You have made several cultural blunders. It is certainly irreparable at your current position.

I'm not sure if it's irreparable! I'm still on very good terms with my main school, and they're the ones who have the most "say" in what happens to me. Cultural blunders are bound to happen, and I know I've made some. It's a little hard to get a read on the culture/teacher environment when your CTs mostly ignore you and everything is so unusual from the virus! But I've heard of NETs with much "worse" behavior getting renewed multiple times. So, I guess it really depends on the luck of the draw. I'll see what happens over the next few weeks and try to figure out what sort of luck I have  :smiley:



Good luck whatever.


Thanks!  :wink:


I'm so sorry OP for devolving into my own personal stuff...

...Also remember to write everything down...everyday they try and eff with you...MAKE RECORDS.



Don't be sorry! It's actually sort of comforting(? in the misery loves company way) to know that there are so many others who struggle with the system here. My students have a lot of the same problems - they're teenagers who are considered mid-to-high level, but at this point can't do anything beyond memorizing and reciting textbook sentences. I've seen improvements here and there, but overall I don't really see a reflection of six years' worth of learning English.

And the documenting is a good idea... I hope things don't escalate that far, but it's probably best to leave a paper trail just in case


  • hangook77
  • The Legend

    • 2166

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2020, 08:10:58 am »
Hello all,

 First-time poster here, looking for advice. Iím a public school teacher ( at 2 schools) and have recently gone through a situation at one of them that has left me extremely distressed and honestly doubting if I want to stick around any longer.


For some background, this is my first year teaching in Korea, but I have a teaching degree in America, TESL certification, and a few yearsí worth of teaching under my belt. Iím not new to the rodeo, so to speak. Adjusting has been a little  difficult due to all the COVID restrictions, but Iíve tried to roll with the punches and adapt - overall I thought I was doing pretty successfully! Students were learning and performing well enough on their assessments, the dysfunction was manageable, etc.

The problem happened a couple weeks ago. To start, probably 60% of this schoolís classes have been online so far (students only started physically coming into school in June, and even then itís only one grade in school per day on a rotating schedule). I teach there two days a week, with two different co-teachers. I do all the planning, materials, and teaching myself, and the CTs really only serve to translate here and there to the students. Iím not a huge fan of the textbooks, so I make all of my own materials, PPTs, etc, and just refer to the textbook when weíre completing the page activities or rehearsing dialogue. For online activities, we do Kahoot, answer questions about video clips, do partner dialogues over Zoom, a few interactive worksheets, etc etc. I really try to vary the activities as much as possible. Most of the students just log into the session, mute it, and go back to bed, but I work with what I got (can't blame 'em  :wink: )

Whenever I ask for help or advice regarding a class, Iím told by the CTs that ďOh we are so busyĒ or ďThe class is your responsibilityĒ or "Do what you think is best." Okay, sure. I'm independent enough, it' not too big of an issue.

Because of the COVID restrictions I donít have a lot of interaction with the students, and my CTs donít keep me updated on the students or their educational needs, even if I ask.
 If I ask if I should do anything for the next lessons or target certain fields, Iím always told the same ďItís okayĒ or ďYou can do what you want.Ē No feedback on my lessons from the CTs either, positive or negative. Itís a little frustrating being so out of touch with the students, but I was operating on a no-news-is-good-news basis.

The next stage of the problem:

One of the CTs is perfectly fine, but a few months ago my ďmainĒ CT/the one in charge of me (Iíll call her ďBĒ) started acting weird around me. She had initially been very friendly and helpful, but a few months ago she suddenly did a complete 180. She wasnít directly hostile, but she started cold-shouldering me and more or less totally ignoring me. Thatís fine, I donít need to be friends with her, but I couldnít help but wonder where this weird attitude came from. I figure I accidentally slighted her in some bizarre unnoticeable-to-me way  :rolleyes: . I eventually asked her if I had done anything wrong and if I could make things better/repair our relationship. She brushed me off with ďIím just tired this weekĒ like okay sure, but youíve been acting like this for months. Whatever, she can do her own weird thing, it's still not that big of an issue.

However, last week B and my other co-teacher told me we were going to have a ďteacher meetingĒ and herded me into an empty classroom. Then, B told me that Iím not a good teacher and not good at what I do. I was pretty shocked by this, naturally. She then continued by saying the students donít like my classes, that my lessons are bad, that Iím lazy, that Iím not prepared, etcÖ. which is all brand new news to me! She told me that Iím bad because I teach from the textbook (whichÖ. they had told me to do) and because my lessons donít have ďfun activitiesĒ (which, because weíre mostly online, is pretty hard to do. Kahoot is really the only sort of online game that works with my 25+ student online classes, and even then they donít like playing it because no rewards :( )

B also told me that my performance had been very bad for the new term, which is sort of funny because the term had just started the week before and Iíd taught three total days so far.

 I briefly excused myself to compose myself (cry for 3 minutes in the bathroom lol), then came back and sat down and told B that what she said to me was extremely rude and disrespectful. I also told her that her behavior toward me in the past few months had been very disorienting and unhelpful. This really ****** her off. Maybe I overstepped a boundary, but what she said really stung and I did feel enormously disrespected. I've worked hard to get where I am, and am just as much of a teacher as she is.

I explained to B and my other CT that Iím totally willing to accept criticism and change, but that I felt pretty bowled over because they had been letting me teach like this for 6 months without any complaint or issue, but then suddenly Iím a bad teacher who does everything wrong. I know the lessons can be dull, but Iím genuinely limited in what I can do - 40 minutes of online class plus 25 sleepy students isnít a really conductive environment. I know Iím not perfect, but thereís been zero indication from the CTs or students that my teaching is ďterribleĒ until now.

I said my piece, and then B blew up at me and stormed out of the room. I was a mess the rest of the day, totally shattered. Iíve spent years studying to be a teacher and wanting to teach abroad, and gave up a really good job in the USA so I could come here for the ~ experience ~. To be told that Iím bad at what I do shook up my confidence quite a bit

I sort of brought up the situation with the head of the Eng. department at my other (main) school, and listed the complaints B had against me. Eng head was confused, and said she hadnít ever noticed any of these issues with my teaching before. I know different schools have different expectations, but I take the same general approach to both of mine, and itís been highly successful at my main school.

 Later that evening I sent B a message suggesting that we need to work on communicating better on what is expected and needed for the students so we can move forward from this. She replied telling me that Iím not allowed to talk to her anymore. Great!

Anyway, this week rolls up and I get called into a ďnew term expectationsĒ meeting with my CTs and the VP (who is usually very nice and encouraging toward me).

As it turns out, itís basically an interrogation. The VP has a list of ďperformance issuesĒ of mine that B has obviously written, and scolds me on them.

They include:
- Iím boring
- Students donít understand me
- Iím lazy
- Iím not prepared
- I talk too much like a native speaker (??)
- I disrespect students (what??)
- Students donít like my classes
- Iím crazy and mentally unstable
- My classes arenít ďfunĒ
- I donít teach the students what they need to know (despite explicitly teaching from the textbook and all its target phrases/preparing them for the tests)
- I need to teach them speaking and listening (thatís literally what iíve done all year so far?)
- etc etc etc

B was obviously expecting me to cry or have a meltdown, but I kept a hold on myself and managed to explain/defend myself in a pretty coherent way, fortunately. I explained to VP that I felt a little shocked and misled because no one had told me there were such severe issues with my performance for 6 months, and B butted in and said itís because Iím mentally unstable, and that whenever she tried to give me advice or help me I would start screaming and crying (which isÖÖ untrue lol), so her and other CT didnít want to talk to me about my classes. I countered with the needs of the students should always be prioritized over my own personal issues :) which got her all pissy again. Luckily the VP didn't seem upset or disappointed with me, just told me to work hard this term and "listen to my co-teachers."

My CTs kept insisting that I need to do "fun activities in class." When I asked for what sort of activities, they told me that I need to research online. When I asked what sort of fun activities THEY do for their classes, they just told me I need to do fun activities for my class. Which is.... telling, lol.

Ultimately I just ended up smiling and nodding and promised VP that Iíll be sure to work really hard this term and do lots of fun activities!!!!!!!!

But overall, this situation has left a really bad taste in my mouth. I feel that B is actively out for me now, possibly trying to set the stage to get rid of me or mess up my reputation, and nothing I do will ever change that. I could be the best teacher in the world and nothing would make a difference to these people because my word and performance doesn't matter compared to how my CT paints me. Moreover, sheís evidently badmouthing me to other teachers, and I feel like the situation can only escalate from here - I feel backed into a corner.

Like I said, I've taught before, and have heard plenty of critique and made mistakes. but never before have I been abruptly told that I'm bad at what I do and then been lied about to a superior.

Iíve also been wondering if thereís something going on behind the scenes, but itís not like Iíll actually ever know.

(Lord, this probably should have gone in the rant thread, sorry!)

I guess this is what I need advice on - Where do I go from here? just SNIP? How do I handle B? Keep my head down and let students watch youtube videos the whole period for each online class? Let them do ďĒĒfunĒĒ" word searches every live class? I know theyíre going to be watching me like a hawk for performance issues to build their case as to why Iím The Worst, and I donít know if I should try to play nice, assert myself, or just phone it in.

Iím pretty upset about this whole situation, and am doubting renewal due to corona + B. Or, maybe Iím just being an oversensitive brat. Advice? Comments? Anyone with a similar experience? Any insight would be appreciated :~)

Lemme guess, middle school?  In elementary they usually co teach with you.  In middle school they put it on you.  They never do any games or activities nor know what to do themselves.  But will suggest you teach something fun even though they don't know how to themselves.  Usually, it's because they either decided to hate on you personally or are just xenophobic pieces of crap.  Try to transfer schools if you can.  Though if the school writes a review of you, you may be screwed.  But you seem to stick up for yourself.  So, if you do get non renewed, at least tell her off really hard and scream at her on the way out.  There are lots of countries to teach in.  Then again, the education office may be so desperate for teachers, they may let you continue.  Coordinators are often useless and won't or can't do anything.  But, you can tell them about your situation and request a transfer next semester.  You can also ask them to only send an evaluation to the main school given the circumstances and let you transfer.  Basically, your co teacher at the minor school is just a hateful biatch. 

I had one of those my first year.  But, I was lucky, they were desperate for teachers back then and got renewed in spite of her nasty evaluation and her giving me a hard time for a few months till I finally pushed back.  Just nasty though.  She never did co teach with me or help me plan any classes, nor give me any advice on teaching.  Just ignorant all the way around.  Never had a hellish coteacher like her again, though I did have a head teacher blow up at me during camp at the end of the year several years later.  I never taught with her during the year, nor did she help me plan the camp at all.  I asked her why she wasn't co teaching with me and helping plan the camp, and that just made her even more nuts.  Thankfully she wasn't evaluating me.  I switched to doing elementary schools.  They seem to co teach a lot more and help plan lessons more.  (Though they can nitpick some things too and be more strict with certain rules.)


  • hangook77
  • The Legend

    • 2166

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2020, 08:16:14 am »
Anyways, the elementary side has more ppt games.  Find some of those and adapt them to your middle school textbook.  Try to have the text for half the class and games and video of some sort for the other half if you can swing it. 


  • buckybee
  • Veteran

    • 116

    • August 30, 2015, 02:36:08 pm
    • Daejeon
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2020, 09:54:05 am »
If B is talking bull about you, she's probably doing it to other teachers too. Find a friend, get really close to them and they will tell you what B's true image is to everybody else. It's probably something the VP knows too. Keep your head up and get people on your side or just leave and blame your reason for leaving on the stress and environment that was created by a passive aggressive B.


Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2020, 10:42:48 am »
Yeah, I'm with most of the others, your main coT is being incredibly petty, most likely because she either feels threatened by you (i.e. is jealous of you -- by the sounds of it, I'd bet that she probably feels her teaching is inadequate compared to you) or because you did something that upset her (could literally be anything and most likely not at all your fault).

She's probably been talking shit about you for a while and has been working to get others against you during that time. Obviously, keep doing what you've been doing and standing up for yourself, but start documenting anything and everything, and secretly record any private conversations you have with her (it's not illegal here as long as you're a part of that conversation and can be heard during the recording). Try to get everything in writing from her, though.

You're at the point that you really need to start involving a mediator. The school isn't going to be listening to you at this point, they've already involved the VP who saw fit to scold you, so they're basically going to see fault with you no matter what you do now. It's up to you to bring in someone who can help advocate for you. If you can get other KTs on your side, that's best. Start asking KTs you like for their advice on this situation and any past situations you've been having with your coT, and for any inside info they have about what's been going on with her and the school in general. Try to direct them into your shoes without being too obvious about it (to see it from your perspective). If your main coT has a bad reputation and the KT(s) sympathize enough with you, it'll come out in these private discussions (usually indirectly, but sometimes a KT will surprise me and rant about so-and-so full on). If you're with EPIK, contact your coordinator.

Your best option from there, if you would like to stay in Korea, would be to transfer schools at the end of your contract, but you'll really have to work to make sure your school won't be able to give you rating below what's required for renewal (this is part of the purpose of contacting your coordinator). Don't make it easy for them to get away with it. Or, you could just start looking at public schools who are willing to do a direct hire (you don't need to be with EPIK to work for a public school).
« Last Edit: September 21, 2020, 10:48:35 am by Chinguetti »


  • theman3285
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1031

    • June 16, 2017, 09:01:06 am
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2020, 11:21:21 am »
they've already involved the VP who saw fit to scold you
Yeah, that was a dick move by the VP. This whole situation is kinda crazy actually. Can you imagine dragging your Co-T into a live interrogation with the VP because you feel her performance is lacking? Like who the hell does that? It's not like you attacked a kid or something.

How old is this hag of a woman, by the way? I've had mostly young-ish female co-teachers (apart from my hellish first year), and none of them have ever got funny with me. My current main co-teacher is about 30, and honestly the kindest, most respectful human I think I've ever encountered. Hell, I wish my wife was more like her.

This whole system is loaded against us, if you think about it. Our co-teachers are given these godlike powers against us (open channel with the higher-ups, and the express ability to terminate our positions and send us packing at their discretion). And what recourse do we have? The evaluation should go both ways.


  • theman3285
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1031

    • June 16, 2017, 09:01:06 am
Re: I'm suddenly a bad teacher
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2020, 11:43:07 am »