Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Week two: big changes

I'm settling into the second week here at my beloved job. Monday was a red letter day here I think. First I was called into Peter's office because he had to tell me that the book needed to be changed back to the book he suggested then told me I could deep six. It's a good thing I didn't throw it in the garbage. The students may have though. I told them all last week to buy a different book. That's about 175 students.

Now I have to tell them all this week that we're going back to the original book. Sigh. But I won't see 135 of them because they have Membership Training this week. So I don't know how many of them will buy the new, wrong book in that time and I'm not sure of the exchange policies in book stores around here. I think I've just lowered the soju budgets for a lot of students. I won't be Mr. Popularity for that especially with this being MT week when they all get together and drink themselves into inibriated states of bonding.

Plus this means the curriculum I had already planned, (and for which I already had hundreds and hundreds of copies made), has to be shelved and I will have to make a new one. I was already busy making a new curriculum for the Flight Attendants anyway. Now I will have to do another one.

But there IS good news. I'll have a long weekend to do them in. Since Thursday is MT day and since Friday is hangover day, I get a four-day weekend! Yeehaw!

Also, just to show you how incredibly GOOD I am, enrollment in the English program, (for which I was the one and only teacher last three semestres), has exploded. Not only are my class numbers WAY up but there is a new teacher here named Erin who from what I've heard has similar or even higher class numbers. So it has more than doubled thank you very much. I'm sure it's not just because of me but I'll toot my horn a little.

Yeah, I have another soul to share with. I've really missed Kasia since she's left the hallowed halls of Seokang University. I'm sure Erin won't take her place but it'll be nice to have somebody to speak sober English to. The only other time I speak English is on card nights, (Tuesdays at the German Bar), quiz nights, (every second Thursday at the Speakeasy), and weekends when everybody seems to do the same thing: drink. Although, this past weekend I DID enjoy a night out with Amber, Maria, Chris and Kimmie bowling and for some odd reason there was NO BEER at the bowling alley. And I've played tennis a couple times with Andy. So things are getting better there. Actually Maria and Amber play tennis too. We're tentatively talking about getting together with Andy for a game of mixed doubles some day.

However, these are not the events that made Monday a red letter day. I asked Peter if I could change the scheduling for my Physiotherapy class. They were scheduled for 3 hours a week, 2 hours on Tuesdays and an hour on Wednesdays. The class has 45 students and the room is not big enough for that many, especially if we're doing activities like I have planned. So I asked if I could split the class into two classes of 22/23 and teach two hours on Tue and 2 hours on Wed. I told Peter I would teach the extra hour for free. His knee-jerk reaction was, "Impossible!" which he said a number of times while I was vehemently stressing the educational benefits in a class of 22/23 as opposed to the drawbacks of a class of 45 especially in a class where the teacher isn't lecturing or training, he's EDUfuckingCATING. I admit I got a little riled up. I'm passionate about my work.

Finally he agreed to visit the Dean of Physiotherapy, no longer Prof. Shin, who I have a great rapor with, but a new guy, Prof. Jung. So I lost one Jung and gained another. Anyhoo, we went in and in a few minutes Prof. Jung agreed to the arrangement on a "probationary" basis. Lo and behold, POSSIBLE!

I could see Peter's point that the three hours were needed to get the students the full credit for the course but I told him that if I taught 45 students three hours a week we'd finish the curriculum. If I taught 22 students 2 hours a week, we'd finish the curriculum AND do LOTS of other educational activities.

His mistake in the debate was stating that Seokang is not a hagwon. I said he was acting naive and that if Seokang really wanted to be better than a hagwon they should be thinking of the educational value for the class, not the monetary value. There's no way he could argue with that since I've tried things both ways. Classroom dynamics is no mystery to me after all the years I've been at this. Then I went as far as to suggest 3 hours Tue and 3 hours Wed. I'd be teaching FOUR hours for free! I think Peter might have gained a little respect for me when I offered this. I'm not sure if I would have followed through on it... but probly. I gained a little respect for Peter for actually abandoning the almighty RULES here and making things better.

So that's going to be awesome. Today I sent half the class home and they were, to a student, over the moon with the new arrangements. This means they only have English once a week. And we did some Oscar conversation and played a game of celebrity Headbanz. The students all had a good day. I didn't hear much English being spoken but we'll work on that as time goes by. The thing is, EVERY student did EVERY assignment. There was a group of girls in the back who would have fallen asleep if there were 45 students today. That's why they chose those seats at the back. I'm not a dummy. I've BEEN in those back seats before. In this class the desks are jammed so tightly together I can't even REACH the back of the room. The students know this. And the people at the back are always the ones who don't listen the first or second time I explain how to do something then talk to the students in the front, (in Korean), asking what the hell they're supposed to be doing, thus wasting EVERYBODY's time. What I'm saying is I couldn't have gotten through what I did today in two hours with a class of 45 in THREE hours. And even if I had, there would have been several students who didn't do a thing.

Anyway, it's going better for that class. Now I have to work on trimming the fat on my other three classes of 45. They looked like they were none too interested so I think it'll be a case of locking the doors at go time and if someone shows up and they don't have homework, notebook, textbook, and writing utensil - BUBYE. You'd be surprised how many students will actually come to class here with nothing. Not even a pencil or pen or crayon or whatever.

One way or another I'm determined to keep the educational value in my classes and force this place to do things the right way and make shitloads of money. At least in the English program.

Now if they'd only let me do camps in the vacations we'd all be swimming in cash!

We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. One victory at a time.

No comments: