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  • KirbyOwnz
  • Veteran

    • 136

    • March 01, 2013, 11:17:05 am
    • Geoje Island
I work at 3 different public elementary schools in rural Korea.   School A, School B and School C.   They're all pretty close to each other.

Anyway, On Monday I'm at School A.   On Tuesday I'm at school B.   For the rest of the week, I'm at school C.   I'm not new; I renewed my contract and am on the second month.  Last year I had 3 sets of afterschool classes (one for each school) and this year School C decided to give me double afterschool classes.   

So last year my extracurricular schedule for school C was:
Monday - (1st and 2nd graders), (3rd and 4th graders), (5th and 6th graders).

now it's:
Wednesday - (2nd and 3rd graders) and then (5th and 6th graders)
Friday - (same 2nd and 3rd graders) and then (same 5th and 6th graders)

so I got another class and my schedule was condensed.  I have no problem with that.   I actually like not having to deal with First graders as much.

My problem is how my school sees me.  I'm at so many schools and am usually busy.   I have extra afterschools at School C, so it wouldn't be a big deal if I missed a day of afterschool with my main school C to do their events right?   Wrong.

School C is excluding me from events it seems.   They go play volleyball at the next door middle school?   Everyone is invited except for me. I have the afterschool class.  Today everyone went hiking.  No one even told me (I figured it out after I translated a message on the computer after I realized everyone was wearing workout clothes for a reason and people were spraying bug spray in the bathroom).  Mr. Kirby has to do classes.   

Now, I don't have a problem with the extra work.   It's really not that big of a deal.   My problem is that in Korea, land of doing everyone doing everything the same, I'm stuck alone afterschool as the only teacher in the building while everyone else gets to go play volleyball and drink soju.  I didn't do anything to offend anyone to my knowledge, they renewed my contract even.   I get along fine with all my teachers.  I eat more kimchi than anyone at my school.   The only thing I think that might turn them off is I drink more than they do (but haven't been drunk with them).   I'm also obviously not going to ask them if theres something wrong with me. 

However, I feel incredibly left out and alone.   I feel like a stranger at all 3 schools.   I really don't think I can be happy working at 3 different locations where I'm just a person who pops in and speaks some words.   I've already decided that this is my last year here anyway and it has nothing to do with this problem, but it's really starting to make me homesick and depressed.   It's such a trivial issue I can't really bring it up with anyone anyway.   However I'm griping because it's a long year and it's making me really depressed and empty inside.  I'm not going to do a midnight run over this obviously but I'm counting down the days until I'm back home in the shower anymore. 

  Any ideas Waygook?   How do you deal with a school marginalizing you?


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2014, 04:32:24 pm »
Drop them a subtle line....How was the hike? Oh sounds like I missed out.
Or get sarcastic...I love staying behind and doing after school instead of hanging out with my super cool coworkers.
Or just whine What about meeee?

I agree, the problem is 3 schools. But luckily you have one that is clearly your main school. Just let them know that you already feel left out being a foreigner and having to work at 3 different schools and would like to be included because its a good way to fit in.
If they still say no, you should just accept your fate as anymore protest would just make hanging out with them awkward.


  • KirbyOwnz
  • Veteran

    • 136

    • March 01, 2013, 11:17:05 am
    • Geoje Island
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2014, 04:49:08 pm »
I should do that.   I could bring out my inner Larry David.


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2014, 05:00:42 pm »
I had a similar situation to you last year, except maybe not as bad. I had after school classes on Tues and Thurs. Basically, if there were any school events on those days, it was a given, I couldn't go. However, if there were any events on the other days, they would invite me and I would go. I got on well with all my co-teachers, and I didn't feel left out when I couldn't go because of class. Btw, this also applied to Korean teachers, if Korean teachers had after school classes, they wouldn't go to events either.

I think basically they see missing classes as something which can't be done. If you get along well with your co-teacher, I would suggest just telling her how you feel, and perhaps arranging to have the class a little earlier etc. I know it sucks not to be included, so hopefully you guys can sort something out!


  • Grimne_Lothos
  • Expert Waygook

    • 846

    • December 28, 2011, 12:56:27 pm
    • Buyeo, south korea
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2014, 05:02:15 pm »
if you went hiking then they would have to hire another afterschool teacher to teach wednesdays.  2 yesrs ago my students went home early on wednesdays so the teachers could do their wednesday activities but last year some directive came down forbidding that so my school had to hire special wednesday after school teachers to come in and do classes.  Sounds like you are one of those teachers.   Sounds like your school is being pretty smart.  good on them.


  • Kingeudey
  • Veteran

    • 244

    • December 16, 2010, 08:57:02 am
    • Korea
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2014, 05:16:33 pm »
I know how you feel.  I teach at 4 schools, 2 elementary, 1 middle, 1 high.  I also teach 2 kindergartens and 2 online classes.  I love my students, but I feel like I have no relationship with any of my teachers except one small elementary school because I am *constantly planning lessons.  Plus I am on an island so it's difficult to take the time to get to the mainland.  I am about 90 km from Gwangju, but by bus it sometimes takes 4 hours with ferry time.  That burns whole days.  Mokpo is a little better in that it's closer to an hour and  a half...but still...I have to make sure I am back to the ferry point before the last boat if I go.

I get invited to the dinners, but usually cannot go because I am preparing things *every day.  While I absolutely love my students and still really like Korea, I think if I re-signed here, I would die.  I don't know what the solution is.  If I did, I'd use it.  Good luck, though.  My your time fly!


  • KirbyOwnz
  • Veteran

    • 136

    • March 01, 2013, 11:17:05 am
    • Geoje Island
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2014, 08:17:26 pm »
if you went hiking then they would have to hire another afterschool teacher to teach wednesdays.  2 yesrs ago my students went home early on wednesdays so the teachers could do their wednesday activities but last year some directive came down forbidding that so my school had to hire special wednesday after school teachers to come in and do classes.  Sounds like you are one of those teachers.   Sounds like your school is being pretty smart.  good on them.


True, but last year I had afterschool on Monday and I had a few Mondays off.   I have twice the class this year and they don't let me off.


  • Ley_Druid
  • The Legend

    • 2468

    • February 17, 2011, 08:36:33 am
    • Shinan-Gun, Jeollanam-Do, South Korea
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2014, 08:48:21 pm »
I hate to sound like an ass, but the reality is that you are not a teacher in Korea. You are a contracted employee and your official title is Teacher's Assistant or Conversation Instructor (보조교사/회화강사/회화지도). Some schools invite their native teachers because they are nice, however, they are NOT required to. They don't receive a bonding budget for you. They also know that you are temporary and that you cannot be a "real" teacher in the Korean system. You are basically there to fill-up a requirement that the school has.

I know it sucks, and it took me awhile to get over it, until I realized that it also means that I get a few benefits that they don't. I get lower taxes, an extra day off (Labor Day), and there is no negative feedback if I decide that I don't want to participate in their activities. I also get to go home earlier than they do, and I get my housing paid for. Heck, I even get paid more than someone of the same years of experience in teaching. But I don't get a career, I don't get responsibility, and I don't get to really be part of their group.


  • Nivea
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1644

    • September 02, 2011, 11:23:30 pm
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2014, 11:16:17 pm »
OP should count him/herself lucky. Most posters on this board are looking for way to get out of these activities. Honestly, they are awkward as all hell. Most teachers can't speak much English and don't want to engage in a conversation with you anyway. I mean the free food is nice (assuming they go to nice places - my first English department was obsessed with Shabu Shabu which worked out nice) but its not all that. I did get a nice rafting trip out of it but honestly these events are mostly a pain in the ass.


  • cruisemonkey
  • Expert Waygook

    • 853

    • March 25, 2011, 02:17:57 pm
    • China
    more
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2014, 06:23:24 am »
OP should count him/herself lucky.
...honestly these events are mostly a pain in the ass.

No kidding! Usually, it means a bus trip to the local, 'famous mountain' and an insane charge (Mr. Kim is faster/stronger than Mr. Park) to the top, only to spend 1 minute there - screaming into the void below - before an insane charge down to spend a couple of hours in the local, 'famous restaurant' consuming the inedible and getting snapped on soju.
The Ks once gave me five minutes notice. I didn't know what to do with the extra time.


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2014, 07:33:41 am »
I work at 3 different public elementary schools in rural Korea.   School A, School B and School C.   They're all pretty close to each other.

Anyway, On Monday I'm at School A.   On Tuesday I'm at school B.   For the rest of the week, I'm at school C.   I'm not new; I renewed my contract and am on the second month.  Last year I had 3 sets of afterschool classes (one for each school) and this year School C decided to give me double afterschool classes.   

So last year my extracurricular schedule for school C was:
Monday - (1st and 2nd graders), (3rd and 4th graders), (5th and 6th graders).

now it's:
Wednesday - (2nd and 3rd graders) and then (5th and 6th graders)
Friday - (same 2nd and 3rd graders) and then (same 5th and 6th graders)

so I got another class and my schedule was condensed.  I have no problem with that.   I actually like not having to deal with First graders as much.

My problem is how my school sees me.  I'm at so many schools and am usually busy.   I have extra afterschools at School C, so it wouldn't be a big deal if I missed a day of afterschool with my main school C to do their events right?   Wrong.

School C is excluding me from events it seems.   They go play volleyball at the next door middle school?   Everyone is invited except for me. I have the afterschool class.  Today everyone went hiking.  No one even told me (I figured it out after I translated a message on the computer after I realized everyone was wearing workout clothes for a reason and people were spraying bug spray in the bathroom).  Mr. Kirby has to do classes.   

Now, I don't have a problem with the extra work.   It's really not that big of a deal.   My problem is that in Korea, land of doing everyone doing everything the same, I'm stuck alone afterschool as the only teacher in the building while everyone else gets to go play volleyball and drink soju.  I didn't do anything to offend anyone to my knowledge, they renewed my contract even.   I get along fine with all my teachers.  I eat more kimchi than anyone at my school.   The only thing I think that might turn them off is I drink more than they do (but haven't been drunk with them).   I'm also obviously not going to ask them if theres something wrong with me. 

However, I feel incredibly left out and alone.   I feel like a stranger at all 3 schools.   I really don't think I can be happy working at 3 different locations where I'm just a person who pops in and speaks some words.   I've already decided that this is my last year here anyway and it has nothing to do with this problem, but it's really starting to make me homesick and depressed.   It's such a trivial issue I can't really bring it up with anyone anyway.   However I'm griping because it's a long year and it's making me really depressed and empty inside.  I'm not going to do a midnight run over this obviously but I'm counting down the days until I'm back home in the shower anymore. 

  Any ideas Waygook?   How do you deal with a school marginalizing you?

Do you want us to call your school for you?  Maybe you should talk to them?  Seems like a super easy answer.


  • Hot6^
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1759

    • March 14, 2014, 02:46:01 pm
    • Bucheon
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2014, 07:41:45 am »
Just ask if there is a way to join them. Simple.

At my school, all the teachers pay some sorta fee every month to fund our "outings." If you are doing something like that, well then  you should make sure that you are involved. (the money we don't use, they split up, and give back at the end of the year.)

What you put into Korea, is what you will get out of Korea; it will not spoon feed you.


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2014, 07:52:58 am »
I would just talk to a coworker that you get along with. Two times they were doing something and I didn't know about it. I just went to the coworker and ask if he can be sure to let me know when things are going on because I can't read the Korean. He said, "oh sure, sorry about that," and that was it. I now get invited to stuff I don't want to do, but at least I have the option.


  • Allison-teacher
  • Veteran

    • 93

    • September 30, 2013, 07:43:56 am
    • Hwanggan, Chungbuk, Korea
    more
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2014, 08:15:56 am »
I would just talk to your schools and, honestly, I don't think 3 schools is that big of a problem.

I work at three schools and I don't have a great relationship with my main school. Honestly, it's nothing I've done, but they are wary of foreigners because the last one was a midnight runner. Anyway, my other two schools I have great relationships with and they invite me to outings and stuff all the time. They even negotiate with each other for my sake.

My point is, ask if you want to be involved. It can't hurt. If you want to be really spiteful, which it's surprising how many people want to, tell them that you need a co-teacher with you, because it's Korean law for you to be alone. But I wouldn't recommend that option.

Anyway, I hope everything works out for you! Good luck!


  • KirbyOwnz
  • Veteran

    • 136

    • March 01, 2013, 11:17:05 am
    • Geoje Island
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2014, 08:46:34 am »
^^ Oooh.   I like that.   I'm a very spiteful petty person.   I'm even more grumpy when I can't get my free food and booze during work hours.   :afro:


Thanks for the replies everyone.  I mostly made this topic just to vent my frustration but this job will be done soon enough.  I'm probably just going to shut up and do my job anyway.     


  • Squire
  • Super Waygook

    • 352

    • March 01, 2011, 02:11:36 pm
    • Yeosu
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2014, 09:55:57 am »
If I don't like something that's happening at my school I just complain about it confidentially to other teachers with the absolute guarantee that it'll spread and eventually work its way up to the VP.

Do you do those extra classes on top of an already full schedule? I couldn't find the time for that. I was offered extra classes a couple of weeks ago but there's no way I could get everything done between 8.30 and 5 if I took them. I told them 'it's impossible'- a great line for making excuses and getting out of stuff. Nothing I've ever told my school is impossible has actually been impossible, but it gets accepted every time without further discussion.


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2014, 11:12:33 am »
Really OP, count yourself lucky.  I would love to have this problem.  I'm being dragged to the second teachers dinner IN A WEEK tomorrow and I think it sounds like a little slice of heaven to have a school that excludes you from the pointless "bonding" practices. 

If for some strange and unimaginable reason you still want to be included in these "events" then say something to your co t.  Maybe the teacher before you didn't like going so your school is making the usual jump of 'all foreigners' based on past events. 


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2014, 11:58:19 am »
I understand your feelings. Most likely, your school either doesn't consider investing extra time in being social with you to be worth the aggravation and anxiety of having to speak a lot of English, since you're not there every day, or they simply didn't think of it. Most of the teachers at my school who are not salaried employees or full-time are rarely included in outings.

However...

I teach 31 to 34 hours a week and I pray to GOD that they exclude me from shit because most days I don't sit down from 9 AM to 4 PM. I rarely received my ten-minute break between classes because my coteacher really likes to teach through those- and I can't go in the nearest teacher's room, anyways, as I've been told that "hearing English makes the first grade teachers nervous," which is a crock of shit I won't even go into- and the days where I'm forced to join activities, even ones I like, are days where I either go home and have to work or get up and head in an hour or more early. Wanna trade?
NOTORIOUS D.G.P.


Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2014, 12:08:42 pm »
I think you've been here too long if you're starting to feel like a Korean, and are getting sad about being excluded from all the group activities where everyone does the same thing all together at the same time with lots of duckface selfies and staged group photos.

I've gone out of my way to participate in these things, thinking it would make things easier on my teaching experience, but it was never any fun. The Koreans just talk in Korean with one another (even the ones who speak good English) and everyone kowtows to the administrators and the oldest employees with drinking rituals. Once I took three of my co-teachers out to a very nice lunch to thank them for being great co-workers, and the whole time they just talked in Korean and ignored me!
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  • waygo0k
  • The Legend

    • 3835

    • September 27, 2011, 11:51:01 am
    • Chungnam
Re: Is there anything I can do about this? (Minor school problems)
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2014, 01:06:52 pm »
You're probably seen as a part-time worker - i.e. not worth the effort according to social norms in Korea.

It sounds incredibly cruel and cold-minded, but part-time staff aren't really encouraged to mingle with full time staff (teaching AND non-teaching jobs) in or out of the office. Part-time workers are basically at the bottom of the hierarchy and generally do not have access to the perks full-time staff have.

To make matters worse...you're seen as a foreigner AND a part-time teacher at all 3 schools.....a double-triple whammy :shocked:

Perhaps you could buddy up with one of the principals or VPs...that would definitely go a long way.

For example - my first job in Korea was at an after school program in the countryside (one school, 15hrs a week). For the first 6 months I wasn't invited to anything. Volleyball, teacher trips, dinners....nothing. Then the principal and VP changed. I hit it off with both of them and got quite close with the VP. In short, I rarely missed a volleyball session or school dinner (but I still wasn't invited to teacher trips). If my classes clashed with volleyball or staff meal, the class would either be postponed (indefinitely) or time cut in half.

My advise: buddy up with as many of the principals and VPs as you can if you're desperate to join in the teacher activities. Although I can't guarantee you'll enjoy it...be careful what you wish for  :undecided:
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 01:08:28 pm by waygo0k »