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Kindergarten cop-out

This past week represents something of an end of an era at my hagwon. We’ve been given new schedules for the coming term. For this month I’ll be doing the same number of classes that I did last month – which was two a week more than the previous couple of months. I’ve been told that the director wants me to do writing classes with the older students in the evenings and that therefore I’ll be coming off kindergarten duties. We’ll have more on that story later.

Mostly, the pm classes I now have are exactly the same as the old ones, but just moved to different classrooms and with the additional student or two. The extra class I have is a writing class with high school students. The high schoolers I’ve had in the past have been both low on English skills and low on confidence, with the result that those classes can be places of deathly silence. I was expecting similar when I walked into the new class, and was greeted with the customary look of mild shock and amusement. However, when I started speaking to the two 17 year old (ie, 15 year old) girls present it became clear that their English is very good and they’re more than happy to have a conversation. These are clearly my hagwon’s high flyers.

I also have new books to use in two classes, and I pretty much fumbled my way through them, but I think I’ll get used to them before too long.

In the past week my first class of three girls have really started turning against me. Their other teacher, a Korean, told me they had complained to their mothers that they wanted to leave, and that I should just have fun with them in my class. Unfortunately, the combination of their intransigence and my lack of child-friendly charisma doesn’t work too well in that respect. As an example of the former, while I can get them to play ‘Squares’, the bossy little girl who puts herself in charge has them playing collaoratively, rather than competitively – which is much of the fun of Squares.

I wrote January reports for them on Friday – honest, very slightly pissed off reports – and my co-teacher later told me that little Miss Centre-of-the-Universe’s mum speaks English and could I rewrite her report. I offered to do it later in the day, then she said would I mind if she did it. Obviously not. She may well have been irritated that I wasn’t more enthusiastic, but anyway.

That was her last day. The Korean kindergarten teachers aren’t a happy bunch and they’re all due to leave in the not too distant future. Apparently the kindergarten aspect of the academy’s business hasn’t been doing well, and the administrative staff blame the Korean teachers. I think my co-teacher just decided to throw in the towel.

Something we were due to do with the youngsters this month was a drama festival-type thing – for which the foreign teachers had to write plays or speeches for their students. I wrote a fantasy epic for my ‘good’ class (‘good’ should be taken relatively). But the whole thing’s now been cancelled. I was told to stop practising the play, but not tell the students that the event was off. Having rehearsed it every day for a couple of weeks they, a little surprisingly, weren’t at all happy when I kept saying we weren’t going to do it today.

I’ve published the play, Balgaru Strikes Back, on my writing blog.

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Categories: Employment
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