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26 March 2005
South Korean Flag


Dinner turned out to be pretty fun. Julia's mother, let's call her Sally, insisted everyone get steak and the salad bar. The steak was the size of a hockey-puck, but good. The salad bar, on the other hand, was incredible - huge variety.

There was no mention of a private lesson. She simply wanted to tell me that she is amazed by how fast Julia is progressing. She realized it one day when Julia started reading a children's English story book out loud in a store. Then she noticed Julia's English diary (which I assigned) and, of course, she can read that too. She couldn't read anything before my class even though she studied English for the past three years. (This is why I think it's so important to teach phonics and why I do so even though it's not part of the program). So, the dinner was to thank me for doing a good job.

Before this, Cathy had spoiled the dinner a bit by telling me (once again) that she's still only sleeping a few hours every night because she has to do so much work for our class - which is the real reason she is quitting, she confessed. She's utterly exhausted.

Further to my chagrin, Bonnie told her yesterday that she is unhappy with our class again, which is bizarre since she just told me everything is fine. I don't know what the hell to believe. According to Bonnie, the school thinks our program is of poor quality - the asshole vice principal has complained about a bunch of little things again. He actually pointed out that I made a cross-out mark on one of my lesson plans instead of using white-out (which we don't have) or re-writing the whole page. What a dick.

The administration at this school is just amazing - they've never made us feel welcome, never say anything nice, can't make up their minds if we can use the copy/coffee machines, never even attempt to communicate with me with any friendly gesture whatsoever - and then complains about such meanlingless trivialities. Come on - as if they even read my lesson plans in English when Cathy types up a highly detailed Korean version for them.

Then, can you believe this, Bonnie pointed out the program before us had 70 students in three classes, but we only have 60 in four and she wants to know what we're doing wrong, Cathy and I. In other words, she's really not happy that we just got 20 new students. That's not enough. And of course the "problem" is not because of her awful planning for the past 3 months. It's all my fault. I think she doesn't want a part-time teacher, she wants a full-time master magician.

"Um, the program before ours failed," I pointed out. This is because the students didn't learn anything (which is completely obvious - my students knew nothing 6 months ago and I thought they must have never studied English before). Anyway, I just shrugged this off at the table, but now it's making me mad. So much conflicting information, so much BS. All I see is that I'm teaching kids English, the students are having fun and learning quickly and the parents are happy. Why does everyone else involved have to make it so miserable and complicated?

Even though I genuinely enjoy teaching these kids, put a lot of effort into making it fun for them, and have felt proud seeing the results, it's getting harder to rebound from such comments and harder not to take them personally. What's the point in trying so hard every day? I may as well revert to passing out word-search puzzles and twiddling my thumbs. Then they can really have something to complain about. I love these kids but that's becoming less and less motivation to stay.


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