Archive for the 'school' Category

Korea to replace TOEFL, SAT tests…

From Brian in Jeollanamdo:

If you were the Minister of Education and your country consistently ranked among the worst at English standardized tests in the world, in spite of students spending thousands of dollars each for years or decades studying exclusively for them, what would you do? You’d scrap the test, of course. 

Man, talk about shooting yourself in both feet.  Way to go, Korea, way to go.  Good luck getting your kids into schools abroad.  Oh, wait, maybe that’s not such a great idea anyway, considering that almost half of them quit/flunk out of schools abroad anyway.  Maybe you should just stick with buying residency in foreign countries or having your children adopted by American families, both so that you can qualify to send them to an international school in Korea.  For a country that puts so much emphasis on preparing for tests, it amazes me that they do so abysmally.

Oh man, it just keeps getting better.

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Contract Renewal

Here in Korea, about 3-4 months before a teacher’s contract is finished, the school will go to the teacher and ask them if they think they want to renew. That’s a reasonable amount of time, as they have now spent 8-9 months here, and probably have a good idea of whether or not they want to stay.

However, yesterday my co-teacher informed me that they want an answer now, after only 6.5 months here.  Barring a breakup with Marc, I will be going home, but I don’t really want to close the door here just yet, not until I get back from winter vacation.  

I was told in the morning to make a decision by the end of the day, but since I had to judge an English competition in the afternoon, and then hold a meeting about the teachers’ workshop that I teach, I didn’t remember to email her back about it.  I did, however, receive an email from the provincial office saying that some schools may be asking early this year, but that we did not need to give them a decision until December 29th.  So, I figured that was that, and that I would give myself a couple days.

Well, I got a call at 7:30am this morning (thankfully I was already awake due to my internal clock being set on “Dali” these days), asking for my decision.  I explained that the provincial office said that I had until the 29th.  My co-teacher insisted that no, she needs an answer today, and that Tuesday or Wednesday will not do.

I told her to mark me down as “No”, but that that could change sometime in the future, potentially.  Really, though, it’s highly unlikely.  My school seems to exist in an alternate universe to the one that the provincial office exists in, and that really bothers me.  Even if I were to stay in Korea, I do think I would switch schools.  I like Jindo, but I think that this area has some major kinks to work out, and as an experienced teacher, I can be put to better use elsewhere, at a school that knows how to actually use their foreigners.

I’ve been feeling better about things here lately, but today’s early morning phone call, combined with the gray weather I’m staring at right now, has put me in a bit of a sour mood.

 

[Originially posted over at Teh Blog]

Another week gone by…

So one of my schools had a school picnic yesterday.  We went on a short boat tour around one side of the island, then came back and had lunch.  Normally I don’t attend school functions, but I really like this particular school, and the students are fun, so I went.  Plus, my co-teacher at that school is the head teacher (the person just below the vice principal) and lets me go after my classes are done at noon, so I want to make sure to stay on his good side.

I was pretty tired by the end of the day.  Even though the kids at that school are fun and generally well-behaved, it’s still tiring, and hearing “sung nim!” (teacher!) every 5 seconds does get a little old.  It was a pretty day though, except for the haze, so that was nice.  Plus, hey, a day off from work is never a bad thing!

I spent the rest of the day wandering around Jindo, and did some laundry.  In the evening, I went with the other foreigners to see Lisa off to the airport.  It’s very strange to look at someone and know that you will never see them again, in all likelihood.  But, I will write more about that later.  For now, have a photo of the bridge to Jindo, which I took from the back of the boat:

Update

Things have finally settled into a rut here, I think.  Not a bad rut, just sort of a pattern.  Two new teachers arrived a couple weeks ago, and between them they took over 4 of the schools I was previously working at (two schools I disliked, and two schools I liked, so it balanced out).  So, I’m now working at only 3 schools, which makes things far more enjoyable.  I am finally able to do lesson plans that can have multiple parts, something that was impossible when I was only seeing each class once every 2 weeks.  Now I visit two of my schools twice a week, and one of them once a week.  One of the schools lets me out after lunch, as I have no afternoon classes, and so that makes a huge difference in how I feel.  One of the things I tend to detest is being made to do useless things, and one of my schools makes me sit at my desk until exactly 5 no matter what, even if all the other teachers have gone home.  It frustrates me to no end, though I know that they are fully in their rights to do it, as per my contract.  In general though, things have greatly improved.  For awhile there, I was seriously considering bailing, but due to these recent changes and the plummeting of the US economy, I will be sticking around.

I am also now back in my old apartment building in a vastly improved apartment, now that it has been renovated.  I wish they had replaced the kitchen, and the heater doesn’t seem as good at heating my water as at the old place, but I am not about to complain.  I visit the dog I have “adopted” a few days a week, and it really does wonders for my mood.  I’ve started taking her for walks in the surrounding countryside, which she absolutely loves.  She spends her life on a 6 or 7 foot chain, and so being able to run around (her “leash” is about a 25 foot rope I bought) is clearly the highlight of her week.

In the last two or three weeks, the foreigner population of Jindo has risen from 5 to 9, an incredibly high number for somewhere this rural.  Sadly, one of them has her last day this Friday, and she was the main social organizer, so it will be interesting to see what happens with that.

I have withdrawn a bit recently, as well.  Now that I actually enjoy being in my apartment, I have been spending significantly more time here.  I used to go out with folks not only to socialize, but because I couldn’t stand being in my smelly, moldy apartment.  Now that it is actually pleasant to be here, I have been sticking around here far more, except to go for my walks and countryside drives.  I’m not lonely or anything, I just tend to sometimes go through phases where I don’t really enjoy the company of others, and I think this is just one of them.

I’m a bit sick.  Okay, a little more than a bit, but still well enough to work.  I could use one of my 6 remaining sick days on Monday, but unless I feel worse, I don’t think I will.  I figure that if I go into work when I’m at less than 100%, next time I take a sick day, they might take me a little more seriously.  Then again, maybe not.

So, anyway.  There will probably be more positive posts around here than there previously have been.  I think I have passed the “I hate Korea” stage and entered the “Meh.  It’s funny.” stage.

School Attire

Some of you have asked what I wear at school, when teaching. So, for a week or two I’m going to take a shot while I’m at school, to show you.

Here’s last Friday’s:

School Attire - Sept. 5th

The only thing inaccurate (in terms of being atypical) in this shot is my shoes. Generally I wear a pair of indoor-only flats that I carry around in my storage compartment on my bike, as in Korea, you don’t wear “outside shoes” when you’re in a school/non-western restaurant/house. However, that day I had forgotten them, and all the “loaner” sandals that were even remotely my size had been already taken, so I was allowed to wear my own shoes for the day.


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