Friday, March 6, 2015

Korea: surviving in the classroom

The first few weeks in Korea can be pretty hectic. I remember hanging onto as many tips as I could in the beginning of my stay here. 

Now, as new teachers arrive from all over the place, I've had some folk asking about life in Korea and in the classroom. 

So I asked a few friends who have been here for over a year to give me  their insider knowledge on surviving in the classroom. 

Kristen: from New Zealand 

Tip 1: “I think something some people forget is that your co-teacher is in charge. Make sure to ask them what is expected of you. Sometimes you may not agree with everything your co-teacher does; try say your opinion and have your input.

If they are adamant about something, my advice is to let it go. Let. It. Go. Things will change last minute; you will be told things last minute, your co-teacher may change the rules of your activity in the middle of class. Just be flexible. It will make your life a lot easier.”

Tip 2: “Make sure you have someone supportive to talk to at the end of the day. I had a hard time settling in. Not with Korean life, but with school life. What made it harder was that a lot of my fellow EPIK teachers did not understand why I struggled to keep up with the workload and why I was so stressed.

My lifesaver was Skyping my mum at the end of each day. So find a person who is supportive, understanding and encouraging. So that at the end of the day, they will remind you of how much you’ve achieved and how well you are doing.”

Keisha: from America

Tip 1: "Be friends with your students. You want to have a really good relationship with your students but on a teacher-student level. Don’t be too friendly with them as you still want to have that authority."

Tip 2: "You want to have good communication between you and your co-teachers. That’s really important."

Anonymous: from America

Tip: “Be friendly and engage others. Don't be passive in thinking people will come to you. This was especially true for teachers at my school. When I first arrived, it was said that only my co-teachers spoke English pretty much. Actively trying to talk to [other] teachers resulted in me finding out that many teachers could [speak English]. This developed relationships that were wonderful and helped make my time at work more enjoyable and supported."

Me: South African

Tip: “Try to learn the names of your students as quickly as possible. There is something really great about your teacher/friend/colleague being able to pronounce your name correctly. 

In the beginning the kids laughed at me while I tried daily to get their names right, but they took control in trying to correct me. This helped build a rapport with my students and it showed them that being wrong in English class is ok. It’s trying constantly and not giving-up that matters.”

Do you have any tips for the new teachers?