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15 April 2005
South Korean Flag

KLB - Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire?

It was quite an unceremonious end to Cathy's run as assistant today. We didn't tell the kids anything until the last minute of each class, a time when the only thing on their minds was jetting out the door. At the end of the day, I struggled for words. It was an awkward moment. She put her hand on my shoulder and said she really likes me and despite our difference she will miss me a lot, especially my sense of humor. "You, too Cathy. Good luck." And that was that. Basically, I felt nothing. Good riddens!

But, it appears I may be out of the frying pan and into the fire. Her replacement, Ally, started yesterday.

"You must be the new assistant," I said.

"New co-teacher," she interjected. "I am your co-teacher."

"Yeah, whatever," I should have said. "Can you run down and make copies of my middle finger? I have a lot of people I want to give them too lately. You can have the first copy."

She wandered around the classroom all day today, just like Cathy used to do. And she pissed me off, just like Cathy used to do. Especially during my third class, Class C. I had to check the kids' notebooks and I gave out an activity sheet to keep the runts occupied - a basic worksheet where they cut out labled household items and glue them in the respective rooms. I figured I'd let them finish before teaching the vocabulary, so I sat at my desk watching them, the first time I sat down all day.

"The kids don't know the words, Shawn," said Ally. "They don't know anything. What is the point of this? You have to teach the words."

After dealing with Cathy for so long, this almost caused me a heart attack. Already she's trying to tell me what I should be doing! I sighed and bit my lip. "Today is Friday. They've done a good job all week. I'm letting them relax and do this activity and I will teach them the words when they've finished. They're also pretty smart kids and I taught them phonics so they can read." Why do I have to explain this to her? Does she really see herself as a co-teacher?

"Oh, I see. I'm sorry."

During one of my breaks I went down to the office for a cup of coffee. As usual, despite saying hello in Korean, everyone in the office ignored me. They are such a warm bunch. Later I heard the vice principal complained that I forgot to sign out once last week. Is there a place where I can complain that he's a dick?

After school, as I was making a new seating chart for next week, Ally pulled up a chair next to my desk and started drilling me about my lesson plans for next week. "What will you be doing? What pages exactly? I have to know. Do you have a plan for theme day? What will you do? We have to make a plan. It's Earth Day this month. Bonnie said you have to do an Earth Day plan and blah blah blah," Oh my god, just go away!

She then handed me a syllabus that Bonnie put together. Bonnie said I should follow it exactly from now on. The funny thing is it includes a whole "new" daily phonics plan. What, she finally realizes phonics is important? I've been doing this the past 8 months!

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I can't use a book and have to do these themes and whatnot, yet, as usual, no materials have been provided. Once again, I'm not making materials in my spare time. (This is a part time job, in case you haven't been following, that provides a full time E-2 visa but pays by the class). I've been through this again and again. I'm especially not volunteering after this petty BS of combining classes this week whilst cutting my pay. And it's not as if Bonnie's not making money off this program. We have 60 kids. The tuition is 200,000 won per month. That's $12,000 in revenue every month with pretty much no overhead (no busses, kids have to buy the books, etc, etc). And this is only 1 of 8 school programs she runs. So what's with the pettiness?

Then I found out we have yet two more students starting on Monday. It used to be that kids could only join at the beginning of a semester. Now every few days it seems I have new kids. I say nothing, of course. I know it's all about money now. Still, would it hurt anyone to thank me for doing a good job and attracting so many new students? Hah! Right! Remember, they had a foreign-teacher program there before us that failed after a few months because the kids weren't learning anything. Here I am going on 8 months and seems to me I must be doing something right. Or am I? I really have no idea. This situation would make a fantastic episode of The Twilight Zone.

Actually I'm at my wit's end with all the BS. I don't know how I made it this long. I'm going to put in a month's notice on Monday and look into other options. Maybe I can get Julie doing what Bonnie does. That's certainly the better side of the stick, I would say.


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