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Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« on: April 16, 2011, 09:16:18 pm »
I'm just wondering if any of my fellow Waygookers have come to the conclusion that teaching...doesn't really inspire them or make them particularly happy.  While living in Korea has been a good learning experience, teaching has become a pretty arduous task.  Most of my students don't care all that much about English (and I don't necessarily blame them) and more than half of my time involves me futilely trying to discipline kids that are misbehaving.  It wears me out and makes me really tired and anxious (every single day).  I don't find much joy in it aside from those few moments when some of my kids really seem to be learning or enjoying themselves.  I know it sounds really terrible, but I sort of dread having to go to work.  I don't think I'm only teaching for the paycheck, but I feel something is amiss when going home is by far the happiest part of the day.  I know I'm lucky to have a job so I feel guilty for not really finding much happiness in it.  Has anyone ever been through the same thing?


  • SpaceRook
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2011, 10:12:56 pm »
Before coming to Korea, I thought to myself, "I'd like to try being a teacher someday."  After working for a year in a middle school, I still think to myself, "I'd like to try being a teacher someday."  :) 

There are many things that make our job difficult:
- We are in a foreign culture
- We are teaching unmotivated students
- We are teaching the most difficult subject (a foreign language) AND we do not speak the language of our students (usually). 
- We are not teaching the subject in the optimal environment (35 students in a language class?)

The job is kind of like building a house of cards while white-water rafting blindfolded. 

Despite all this, I believe I have something to offer and I try to reach the kids that care.  BY FAR, the most important thing I learned in the last year was to control my emotions.  I used to always dwell on the negative during my free time.  I'm trying really hard these days to only be in class when I'm IN class.  When class is done, I wipe it from my mind.  Of course I do spend some time on reflection and try to improve, but I'm trying not to think about the things that are outside of my control. 


  • NZ4Life
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2011, 11:04:26 pm »
I'm just wondering if any of my fellow Waygookers have come to the conclusion that teaching...doesn't really inspire them or make them particularly happy.  While living in Korea has been a good learning experience, teaching has become a pretty arduous task.  Most of my students don't care all that much about English (and I don't necessarily blame them) and more than half of my time involves me futilely trying to discipline kids that are misbehaving.  It wears me out and makes me really tired and anxious (every single day).  I don't find much joy in it aside from those few moments when some of my kids really seem to be learning or enjoying themselves.  I know it sounds really terrible, but I sort of dread having to go to work.  I don't think I'm only teaching for the paycheck, but I feel something is amiss when going home is by far the happiest part of the day.  I know I'm lucky to have a job so I feel guilty for not really finding much happiness in it.  Has anyone ever been through the same thing?


so i think the thing about our job that's different from a korean teacher's is that we have to elicit learning rather than just dispense information. elicitation is a skill in itself and involves a number of factors outside of traditional pedagogical expectations (especially in korea).... yes, discipline is important but we have to ask ourselves are we doing it merely to uphold the authoritiative structure of the school/classroom or is it because we are genuinely concerned about the well-being/progress of the disruptive kid and the learning environment he creates for other students? they are afterall attending your class for a grade (at least i hope they are, otherwise, what's the point?) i can understand if a lot of us are disenchanted with classroom material (or were never enchanted in the first place) but i think that's where i were job as teachers comes in; making learning material relevant and even fun (and not just for fun's sake either.) moreover, the interaction of teaching and learning is a negotiation process. in other words, whether you're teaching in korea or in the west, being a truly effective teacher means meeting students somewhere in the middle. this may mean that you may have to walk much further beyond the halfway point than your students, but i believe if there is a genuine concern motivating us (and not just that paycheck waiting at the end of the month) the job will seem less arduous and much more fulfilling. if that means learning a little more korean even if we are terrible at it or have natural aversion for it, these things just come with the territory. i think even the the most authoritative and utilitarian teachers would agree, that if meeting students half way meant more students moving ahead, they would gladly relinquish strict learning environments for more lax methods. as they say, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

and even while this responsbility and task may be daunting, you shouldn't take everything personally. if at the end  of the day, you feel you've done what you can in eliciting whatever motivation to learn english students possess then that should be the end of that. yes, we should all be concerned with results, but we should not deny or discredit ourselves from noble intentions. it's a delicate balance that requires not just a high degree of emotional investment/involvment but also the insight to socially distance yourself from losing battles. i think a lot of us came here with our own ideals and certain perceptions of ease/difficulty, but i think breaking them and trying something new could help a lot of us who've grown weary. anway, just my 2 cents. sorry if it was wordy.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 11:07:04 pm by xblindx »
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  • Jessica G
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2011, 11:35:09 pm »
I'm with you OP. I'm not sorry I came to Korea by any means, but I can definitely eliminate teaching from the list of things I want to do with my life. I've gone above and beyond what my job requires of me, so I feel no guilt. It's just...not my thing. I never realized how much teachers give give give. If there were such a thing as a selfless job (or even just activity or deed) I believe teaching would be it. I've never felt so drained. My kids take every ounce of energy and free time, and while I don't resent them, I definitely recoginize that I would never want a job teaching anywhere under any circumstances after my contract ends.


  • Hoogie10
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2011, 12:33:26 am »
Good point SpaceRook.  I don't really feel like we're allowed to be "teachers" here, for some of the reasons you mentioned.  So, it's a matter of doing the best we can in a very flawed system.  For me, that means trying very hard to make sure I'm not stressed about doing a "bad job" -- the circumstances of the situation make it impossible for me to be a "good teacher," so I try to do the best I can and not think about it too much.  Do any of you actually give grades?  I teach an entire middle school (1,100 kids or so) in the course of two weeks.  So, I have 29 different classes of about 40 kids each and I teach with 7 co-teachers, whom I rarely see.  I have free reign to teach whatever I please and I get little to no feedback on my lessons...haha.  I don't give homework or grades (so indeed, what is the point??).  That said, I feel like the kids know that I care.  I play soccer with them, talk to them in the hallways, at my desk, etc.  I try to develop relationships with them as much as I can, in spite of the language barrier and the fact that there's no possible way of knowing their names (or even all their faces).  It's less rewarding than many teaching jobs potentially could be, no doubt.  HOWEVER, it's also much less stressful.  You can't let the stress get to you.  Make the best lessons you can (I feel I might be failing on this level) if you need to make lessons, but don't think about work outside of work!


  • elzoog
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2011, 05:28:21 am »
Before coming to Korea, I thought to myself, "I'd like to try being a teacher someday."  After working for a year in a middle school, I still think to myself, "I'd like to try being a teacher someday."  :) 

There are many things that make our job difficult:
- We are in a foreign culture
- We are teaching unmotivated students
- We are teaching the most difficult subject (a foreign language) AND we do not speak the language of our students (usually). 

Yeah, a Korean friend of mine told me that learning English was more difficult than learning calculus (the most difficult math subject you ever take in high school or undergraduate college).   

Koreans have the ridiculous notion that the most difficult subject in their entire curriculum should consist entirely of just fun and games.

Quote
- We are not teaching the subject in the optimal environment (35 students in a language class?)

I would add

- Koreans are profoundly ignorant, even compared with the rest of Asia, about western culture.

If you don't believe me, ask your students if they know the following

1)  "I can't get no satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (which usually makes the top 10 list of the greatest songs of all time)
2)  Bruce Springsteen  (Even the Chinese know about Bruce Springsteen.   Look up "The Bruce Springsteen of China")
3)  Led Zeppelin

Basically, they are no better than Martians who have only been on the earth for a few weeks.

Despite not knowing these basic things, you are encouraged by the Korean BOE to teach them about K-POP.  Of course why they would want people from English speaking cultures to talk to them about their own pop culture is beyond me.   Maybe they are ignorant of their own pop culture as well?



  • elzoog
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2011, 05:37:56 am »
I'm just wondering if any of my fellow Waygookers have come to the conclusion that teaching...doesn't really inspire them or make them particularly happy.  While living in Korea has been a good learning experience, teaching has become a pretty arduous task.  Most of my students don't care all that much about English (and I don't necessarily blame them) and more than half of my time involves me futilely trying to discipline kids that are misbehaving.  It wears me out and makes me really tired and anxious (every single day).  I don't find much joy in it aside from those few moments when some of my kids really seem to be learning or enjoying themselves.  I know it sounds really terrible, but I sort of dread having to go to work.  I don't think I'm only teaching for the paycheck, but I feel something is amiss when going home is by far the happiest part of the day.  I know I'm lucky to have a job so I feel guilty for not really finding much happiness in it.  Has anyone ever been through the same thing?


so i think the thing about our job that's different from a korean teacher's is that we have to elicit learning rather than just dispense information. elicitation is a skill in itself and involves a number of factors outside of traditional pedagogical expectations (especially in korea).... yes, discipline is important but we have to ask ourselves are we doing it merely to uphold the authoritiative structure of the school/classroom or is it because we are genuinely concerned about the well-being/progress of the disruptive kid and the learning environment he creates for other students?

I do it because in real life if a Korean in the store doesn't listen to what I am trying to tell him, I will just simply leave and go elsewhere.   In fact, if I worked for an American company that complains about Koreans not listening to them, I would advise the American company not to do business in Korea anymore.  Also, I don't know of many businesses where every order of business is conducted using the technique of playing games.

Maybe you can think of some other endeavor in life where not listening to people and playing on your cell phone instead will lead to success.   I however, can't think of any.



  • confusedsafferinkorea
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2011, 05:55:48 am »
'Also, I don't know of many businesses where every order of business is conducted using the technique of playing games.'

While I agree 100% that playing games is done too much here and one should clearly balance your lessons, there is no doubt in my mind that playing a game at the right time is beneficial.

Some children learn really well through playing a game and they are actually learning without realising it.  I have a friend who runs a Mensa School here in Korea and her students are annually placed in the top 10 in the world for Mensa students and one her most frequently (and I mean frequently)  used  methods she employs in developing their skills, is using games.

So with balance, there is nothing wrong with using games as a tool for learning.  There something else we must remember and is largely ignored here in Korea (and most other countries for that matter) and that is, we are teaching a class with multiple intelligences, so not all learn from the chalk-and-talk method employed here or the investigative method of Outcomes Based Education, for example.

Each of us learn differently and believe it or not, there are some kids that learn through playing games.  Be encouraged, that your playing games is letting some person actually learn. Just balance it with other approaches and you will be a great teacher.
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  • elzoog
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2011, 06:23:29 am »
'Also, I don't know of many businesses where every order of business is conducted using the technique of playing games.'

While I agree 100% that playing games is done too much here and one should clearly balance your lessons, there is no doubt in my mind that playing a game at the right time is beneficial.

Some children learn really well through playing a game and they are actually learning without realising it.  I have a friend who runs a Mensa School here in Korea and her students are annually placed in the top 10 in the world for Mensa students and one her most frequently (and I mean frequently)  used  methods she employs in developing their skills, is using games.

Mensa is basically a group of people who play games with each other that require an IQ of 160 or above to play.  If you don't believe me, look up what Mensa people do in a typical meeting.   

Having said that, games have their place.   Even businesses use games sometimes in their seminars. 

When I was a university student, I was the one in the class that solved the Hilbert hotel paradox of how to map a countably infinite set of countably infinite sets onto only one countably infinite set (this was in my Discrete Mathematics class).  The professor said that she would give a jar of pickles to the first student to solve this problem.   I had no interest at all in the pickles (they sat in my frig for several months before I threw them away).  But I was interested in the problem so much that I stayed up until 3 in the morning to solve it.

When I was in high school, I got the orchestral score to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.   Wasn't very good at reading the score and figuring out what was going on.   But I was curious anyway.

These things are not really that remarkable, but I don't see anything even closely resembling this in most of my students.  Pretty much none of them explore a topic they are interested in related to class or not (in my case, I was usually more interested in topics not related to my school work).  I would say that 90% of my students are only interested in computer games.

Quote
So with balance, there is nothing wrong with using games as a tool for learning.  There something else we must remember and is largely ignored here in Korea (and most other countries for that matter) and that is, we are teaching a class with multiple intelligences, so not all learn from the chalk-and-talk method employed here or the investigative method of Outcomes Based Education, for example.

Each of us learn differently and believe it or not, there are some kids that learn through playing games.  Be encouraged, that your playing games is letting some person actually learn. Just balance it with other approaches and you will be a great teacher.

It seems the goal of most of my students is to follow in the path of the guy who died in a PC bang from playing too much Starcraft.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4137782.stm



Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2011, 07:51:45 am »
I enjoyed teaching until I started teaching at an all boys high school. :S


Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2011, 08:03:59 am »
Just a word of advice that's helped me a lot.... give the kids what they want.

I am in elementary, and I was having a hard time in the beginning when I was trying to actually teach the kids properly. Everything has gotten significantly better once I started just being silly and playing games all the time. My kids know exactly what will happen in class now, and it's super easy to get them to pay attention. Saying hello, make a sentence powerpoint, CD & book, game. And between classes I sometimes show them Mr. Bean clips. They are excited to come to class now, and I always threaten to take the game away if they're misbehaving (which has never happened in my 20 months here).

I understand that middle school is different, but you folks who are having a hard time with it, just simplify your lessons significantly, give very positive feedback to kids who make the smallest attempt, and just play competitive games a lot. Remember that you can't teach a group of kids English just by showing up to their class twice a week. They will have to go out of their way and learn it themselves. You're just there to make it sound exciting and to provide an environment in which they can practice talking, if they're so inclined.


  • shhowse
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2011, 01:44:30 pm »
I came to Korea, among other reasons, to test out being a teacher to see if I might like it as a career. After teaching here for 3 years so far,  I can without a doubt say that I will not pursue teaching in Canada. I realize that my job here and a potential teaching job in Canada would be so much different, which is partly why I won't continue. I really fully love my job here in Korea in the meantime, but for many reasons I know that education would not satisfy me once I return home.


  • NZ4Life
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2011, 09:30:41 pm »
I'm just wondering if any of my fellow Waygookers have come to the conclusion that teaching...doesn't really inspire them or make them particularly happy.  While living in Korea has been a good learning experience, teaching has become a pretty arduous task.  Most of my students don't care all that much about English (and I don't necessarily blame them) and more than half of my time involves me futilely trying to discipline kids that are misbehaving.  It wears me out and makes me really tired and anxious (every single day).  I don't find much joy in it aside from those few moments when some of my kids really seem to be learning or enjoying themselves.  I know it sounds really terrible, but I sort of dread having to go to work.  I don't think I'm only teaching for the paycheck, but I feel something is amiss when going home is by far the happiest part of the day.  I know I'm lucky to have a job so I feel guilty for not really finding much happiness in it.  Has anyone ever been through the same thing?


so i think the thing about our job that's different from a korean teacher's is that we have to elicit learning rather than just dispense information. elicitation is a skill in itself and involves a number of factors outside of traditional pedagogical expectations (especially in korea).... yes, discipline is important but we have to ask ourselves are we doing it merely to uphold the authoritiative structure of the school/classroom or is it because we are genuinely concerned about the well-being/progress of the disruptive kid and the learning environment he creates for other students?

I do it because in real life if a Korean in the store doesn't listen to what I am trying to tell him, I will just simply leave and go elsewhere.   In fact, if I worked for an American company that complains about Koreans not listening to them, I would advise the American company not to do business in Korea anymore.  Also, I don't know of many businesses where every order of business is conducted using the technique of playing games.

Maybe you can think of some other endeavor in life where not listening to people and playing on your cell phone instead will lead to success.   I however, can't think of any.

TOTALLY NON-SEQUITUR.

maybe reading comprehension is not your strongest point but i made no mention of games WHATSOEVER in my post, nor did i ever mention any preference to it. i merely said that the intention behind discipline should go beyond upholding the status quo. teaching is complicated as is motivating students to learn. maybe you're equating "elicitation" with "games" but i can tell you i rarely ever use them and lecture my students maybe 75% of the time, with way more than a majority of them able to properly apply "target langage" and understanding what they've learned by the end of class.

moreover, WTF does listening in a store have to do with teaching?

« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 10:22:50 pm by xblindx »
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2011, 04:02:17 am »
I realized it months ago. The best things I like about the job is the vacation time, the short transit back to my apartment, and ability to save 2/3rds of my paycheck. None of the things I like are actually about the job, except for that it can be easy at times. I don't stress about this job. I do what my co-teachers tell me to do, and everything seems to be fine. I just H-A-T-E having to include a f****** game in every lesson. It's stupid. Sometimes I can get away with not doing a game by introducing a song with fill-in-the blank sheet, or stretch the lesson out with a PPT. But I really dislike doing games.

I don't see why I have to make a convoluted method for kids to say "I like apples" or "I am going to wash the dishes". I just throw a bomb game/pass the ball and let it pass. Sometimes my co-teachers get annoyed when I do that, but I know the kids like it. I really don't want to come up with a more complicated way to say "I like swimming" then look at the screen, look at the picture, give me a sentence.

Even without the games, I'm just not a people person. I'm an extreme introvert who did this to get out of my comfort zone. It just confirms two things: I'm a great actor and I don't like working with large groups. I'll go back to fixing pcs and stuff back home when my contract is over. I still have to deal with people, but only a few at a time.

[mod edit: language]
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 04:49:44 am by Brian »


  • Brian
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2011, 04:52:21 am »
I will say it's hard to rule out teaching based on being a co-teacher in a public school or an edutainer in a hagwon.  That's what being a native English speaker is often about in South Korea, but that's not necessarily what teaching's always going to be like.  You may find some satisfaction teaching older students or adults, or even in a different school.

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  • keyg
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2011, 07:36:45 am »
LOL did you really have to come to Korea to figure out that you don't like kids haha  :P For me, these kids make the week go by fast. They are so much fun. I'm glad that you figured out this isn't your calling. At least you know what you DON'T want to be!


  • pippienna
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2011, 07:51:02 am »
I pretty much knew going into this that teaching wasn't my thing, but I try to do my best and enjoy the good bits. It's a hell of a lot better than a lot of other jobs I've had.


  • elzoog
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2011, 08:22:21 am »
Quote
I do it because in real life if a Korean in the store doesn't listen to what I am trying to tell him, I will just simply leave and go elsewhere.   In fact, if I worked for an American company that complains about Koreans not listening to them, I would advise the American company not to do business in Korea anymore.  Also, I don't know of many businesses where every order of business is conducted using the technique of playing games.

Maybe you can think of some other endeavor in life where not listening to people and playing on your cell phone instead will lead to success.   I however, can't think of any.

TOTALLY NON-SEQUITUR.

maybe reading comprehension is not your strongest point but i made no mention of games WHATSOEVER in my post, nor did i ever mention any preference to it. i merely said that the intention behind discipline should go beyond upholding the status quo.

And my response was that there is no endeavor in life where not being disciplined will lead to success.   Maybe you can think of a way to play with your cell phone all day will lead to success in life because I can't.

I know that YOU didn't mention games, or playing with your cell phone.   I am using these as examples of not being disciplined.

Quote
teaching is complicated as is motivating students to learn. maybe you're equating "elicitation" with "games"

Never once in my post did I equate "elicitation" with "games" although it seems that much of the time, games are the only thing that students react to by "elicitation".

Trouble is, I can't think of a boss that will try to get an answer to "When will you finish this project?" by playing a game with you.

Again, I know that YOU didn't mention games in your original post.   What I am saying is, that in the real world a boss is going to want you to listen to him and give a half way decent response.   Likewise in the classroom, I want students to listen to me and give me a halfway decent response.

Quote
but i can tell you i rarely ever use them and lecture my students maybe 75% of the time,

Yeah, when I lecture sometimes I stop and say "What did I just say?".   I bet if you do this, you will get no response or "I don't know."

That you get such a response doesn't mean you are a bad teacher and I don't want you to take it that way (since you proved to me that you read into my posts things that I don't say).  It's that Korean students have the rather ridiculous notion that English class with the native speaker will be a blow off, or fun class.  Despite the fact that English is the most difficult subject in their curriculum and your job is not only to teach English, but English speaking culture.


Quote
moreover, WTF does listening in a store have to do with teaching?

Hmm, compare these two

1)  Listening to the teacher in class.
2)  Listening to a customer in a store.

I'll leave it up to you to figure out how those two things are similar.


  • ed
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Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2011, 11:33:45 am »
I too have discovered I don't particularly like teaching, its OK but I don't love. Like other posters said its a hell of a lot easier than other jobs I've had (waiter, dish washer) and the time off is a major benefit and thanks to the Korean governments obsession with testing I don't have a full week of class that often, so for me its a means to an end (saving up enough money in the next year and a half to travel the world).


Re: Have you realized teaching just isn't your thing?
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2011, 11:38:13 am »
I definitely think that ESL teaching is NOT my thing.  I've been here for 4 years now.  Ups and downs for sure- I like teaching.  I enjoy helping kids and other teachers.  If/When I get back to Canada- I do want to become an Elementary School teacher.  Just not sure I will continue much longer in the ESL job area!