Tag Archives: work

Waiting (really is) the Hardest Part

We are definitely a couple on edge right now. Yesterday I went in to ask my director if we could meet this week to finalise what will be happening, especially in regards to dates. She said that she knows we need to meet, but she was waiting because her husband (the ‘money guy’) wants to make us an offer.

We have NO idea what this could be.

When all this started, I was told that my contract wasn’t being renewed, end of story. In a nice way. She doesn’t really want us to go, and I believe that. But the business can’t support as much staff as they have now, etc., so a couple of teachers are getting the axe.

When she told me that they could only keep one foreigner, I asked if she had considered keeping me and losing Dan. That was kindness to him, by the way, not cruelty. He has only worked at the same school in his nearly three years here and has often expressed a want to get some experience in another school. It would also buy us another year’s time, as was our original plan. I also suggested that Dan and I could both go in May, but she didn’t bite on that idea. “I can’t find a new teacher that quickly,” she laughed. I wasn’t laughing; she expected me to find another job that quickly. But anyway. She *did* like the idea of keeping me a year and said she would talk it over with Mr. Money.

The next day we met again and nothing was finalised. She was still mulling over the “keeping Jodi for another year” idea, but by that point Dan and I had already decided it was not a good idea for us, for multiple reasons. We said in that meeting that the options had been reduced to two: Either we both leave at our contract ends (May for me and then September for Dan) or they could let us both go at the same time at any point between when my contract ends and when Dan’s contract ends. And nothing was decided. We believe she still thinks me staying another year is an option. It’s not.

So now we are still waiting. We are giving them until Friday and if we hear nothing by then we will tell them what we are doing – I’m gone in May and Dan is gone in September. But in the meantime we are left puzzling over what this offer could possibly be. We aren’t holding out hope, any offer they make will be for their benefit, not ours. But we can’t help but be curious, and talk it over. And over. And over.

So we drink too much coffee. And think too much. And sleep too little. We start making plans and then have to stop as we don’t want to go too far down a path that isn’t going to take us anywhere.

Waiting. It’s a frustrating time, but at least it isn’t a boring one. Too much to think about!

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Movin’ On

We (my husband and I) have been chatting for months now about what we are going to do when our current contracts run out. We’ve been thinking about trying somewhere other than Korea, you see. We enjoy teaching ESL in Asia, but Korea is no longer the best place to be doing it in my opinion. I may write a post on why I feel that way another day, but for now: recent events.

We’ve mostly decided that we would like to give Hanoi, Vietnam a try. From everything we’ve read, it sounds equally exciting, trying, and interesting. There are definitely good points (like making your own schedule and not being tied to one school) and bad (like not getting a bank account or being able to send money overseas unless you are with one school). But it sounds like it could be a great experience.

Before making a move, we wanted to be financially ready. All our debts will be paid off this year (Korea has been great for that – eliminating my debt is something that would have been very difficult had I stayed in London) so we were going to take some time to save to be really steady before we made a move… which would have been at my contract end in May 2018 or even Dan’s in September 2018.

Looks like that wanted delay has been taken from us.

I found out last week that my contract isn’t being renewed. Like many hogwans (private academies) all over Korea, our school’s enrolment numbers are down and so our director has decided to make some staffing cuts. Namely a bus driver, a Korean teacher (who was hired not even two months ago), and a foreign teacher. My contract is due up, so that foreigner is me.

We think that they (the director and her husband, the ‘money man’) are being reactionary and not really thinking through beyond freeing up some cash asap. But hey. It is their business.

I feel more for Dan (my husband and I worked at the same hogwan) – they may combine classes and drop the ‘speaking’ portion of a few so he is still not teaching more than 30 hours a week – but there is still going to be double the amount of kids. Double the amount of books. And he’s going to be the only foreigner at the school. Not fun.

We have had a stressful week thinking about what to do next. We thought through every possible scenario. We’ve tried to think how we could make our original plan of being in Korea another 18 months work. And we’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth trying to stay here.

So it looks like sometime in May this year, I’ll be moving to Hanoi. Yikes. I have so much to figure out (and do, like that TEFL course!) before then. And I’m not too excited about going on alone to do something Dan and I were going to do together. In short: I’m terrified.

But the positive is this: If I go first, I can see if it is going to be something we actually want to do before we fly the cats over. I can get an apartment ready (with a litter box in it – the cats are a major complication in this scenario). I can see how easy it is to get jobs. I can start the network.

I’m scared about this one. It’s a bigger adventure than I was looking for in 2017. But the last time life shoved me around it worked out for the best. I moved to Korea, met Dan, and got my money in order. I’ve been more happy and relaxed than I have in years. I just got to stay hopeful that life is pushing me in the right direction again.

Throwing Ethan Under the (School) Bus

So this isn’t a complaint about my school specifically, it is more about the “education as a business” model in Korea in general. Most of the time I can make peace about the practice, even if I don’t always love how it is implemented. It is, after all, how I make my money. But sometimes things happen that just absolutely enrage me.

We are currently doing “Open House” at our school. This means that the parents come into the school and watch their little darlings have a “class”. Of course, it is a total farce. For one of my classes I was told show my Reading and Comprehension class (usually 35 minutes), my Language Arts class (usually 35 minutes) and do our Speech Contest song. All in 15 minutes. Yah. It’s nothing but a show, and it’s annoying, but I get it. Show ’em the good bits. No warts.

That’s not what pissed me off. What pissed me off is how I was told to handle one of my little guys during the Open House. This little bundle of awesome is named Ethan, and although he’s not the brightest crayon in the box, he sure tries hard and he has been improving.

The issue is that Ethan took just about a month off to vacation in Guam. Lucky little turd. But in light of that, I was told to make sure that Ethan didn’t do as well as the other kids, so that parents could see how much children improve in a month.

What? You want me to intentionally embarrass this kid by making him look stupid in front of his friends and everyone’s mommy and daddy to try and show how awesome the school is? ARE YOU MENTAL? HE IS FIVE FUCKING YEARS OLD.

The thing is, little Ethan already was never going to do as well as the others; he’s behind in his reading. He *isn’t* as good as the others, he wasn’t even before the vacation. But he tries so hard and he deserved to be given the chance to do his best for his mommy.

So I gave him that chance. Because being a good teacher is trying to always do right by your little guys. And that little dude may have fucked up his reading a wee bit (as per usual), but he was good at answering questions and he rocked the hell out of the song. I was super proud of him.

The administration at my school, however, can do one at the moment.

Hallowe’en Tales – Korean Kiddo Style

I was pretty happy with the stories my PK class wrote, so I thought I would share them. They are “Korean aged” seven, which means that they are biologically either six or seven years old, depending on when their actual birthday is. Pretty awesome little story writers. They had to incorporate specific words into their stories (they each had different words) and they did it well.

Albert

Once upon a time there was a skeleton. It was the only skeleton. The skeleton ate people. The skeleton was outside. A jet was coming closer. It threw out a bomb. The bomb went “Boom!” The skeleton ran back to the house, got many scissors, and went back outside. The skeleton jumped on the jet. He went in the jet and fought with a soldier. The skeleton won and was very happy. The skeleton was so happy he decided to go to the playground. And the skeleton played happily in the playground for the rest of the day.

Jessica

In the church there were many zombies and no people. Only zombies! There was one zombie who said “Eek!” when he met a spider. He liked to punch and eat people, too. One day, they were eating my friend! I was scared and I said “Eek!”. I ran to my house. Then I woke up and it was just a dream. I was very scared but I went to the church. It was all real! A zombie was there eating many books! The zombie punched me and ate my book! I quickly ran away and went back home. My mom was baking cookies. Mom said, “Happy Hallowe’en!” “Today is Hallowe’en?” I asked. “Yes!” Mom said. My mom and I went to the playground. My friends were there. We decided to go back to the church. We did. There were no zombies anywhere. And that was my scary day.

Lilly

Once upon a time there was a ghost who liked running. The ghost ran very quickly and a chair fell over. Bang! The ghost lived in a house. The ghost’s name was Jocat. He punched a book when he was being very scary. He liked to eat many skeletons. When Albert skeleton ran past his house he broke the window and he tried to eat the skeleton. He had eight eyes so he could look outside even when he was sleeping. He also liked to eat adults. When the adults walked past his house, he punched the door whenever they were close. When he went outside he saw the adults and quickly went to them. He ate them very quickly. When he began to eat the adults, somewhere a clock sang the song “I am the clock that goes tick-tock, I am the clock that likes the ghost.” And the ghost danced to the clock song.

Which Is True of Sue?

Lots of funny kids today. Started with John’s views on strength, and then Evan pulls this on me.

Evan really is a super funny kid. Today we were reading a passage in our TOEFL book about this 18 year old girl named Sue who protected her brothers during a class 4 tornado and what a hero she was… blah blah blah. One of the questions about the story was “According to the passage, which is true of Sue?”

The possible answers were:

A. She was not injured.
B. She was brave.
C. She was a volunteer.
D. She was a high school graduate.

Evan’s answer? “C, teacher. She was a volunteer. SHE VOLUNTEERED…. TO DIE.”

Something wrong with that kid. I love him.

John Strikes Again

Thankfully, less fartastically this time. But still, nearly popped a blood vessel in my eye trying to keep from laughing.

So for whatever reason, Albert (he of the “I’d ask a jaguar why he’s black” fame) was flexing his biceps at me. The following conversation then took place:

Albert: Teacher, I am strong.
Me: You sure are! Look at that muscle!
John: Teacher, he is not strong.
Me: John, why would you say that?
John: Because he’s white.
Me: o.O

So it turns out that John’s full sentence should have been “He’s not strong because he only has a white belt in Tae Kwon Do”. Which is not quite the same as “because he’s white”.

Perhaps what is even funnier is how indignant Albert became after finding out that he was being athletically maligned instead of racially taunted. Turns out Albert has a black and red belt in Tae Kwon Do… he was proper insulted by being called a white belt. These boys!

Juicy Secrets

In one of my elementary classes today I was trying to flesh out the definition of “secret” by using an example.

So I say to the class, “Perhaps I know a secret about John….” and I pause and turn to said child for effect. The whole class falls silent and all faces turn towards John as they eagerly await to hear what possible juicy secret I may tell.

In the brief silence before I can make up an innocent secret about John to tell the class, the little turdburgler looks me right in the eye and, without altering his expression an iota, lifts a cheek and audibly lets rip a fart.

Teaching is so rewarding.