Territorial I'm no Picasso.

Right. So. We have a new temporary teacher. He's a he. Because our VP insists that hes cope better with the male students than shes. Whatever. Today at lunch he spies me sitting with Co and comes over to awkwardly introduce himself and request some "time to talk" after I finish eating. That's nice. Isn't that nice? Nice.

So, I finish eating, and see that he wasn't shitting around about "waiting" for me to finish -- he literally sat at the end of a table by himself and waited. We go up to the office, and I think this is just going to be a nice little introductory, getting-to-know-you chat before we enter the classroom together in a couple of weeks. And it was, at first. But then it morphed into something else entirely, as he began to explain exactly what he would like me to teach during my class time with his students.

Now. I get that that's how some schools operate, and that a lot of native teachers, particularly on the elementary school level, take a lot of direction from their Korean cos. That's fine. I'm one of the ones who's been left to her own devices with complete control from the very beginning. If this were a new main teacher, I might be a little more willing to take this in stride. But being that this guy is a temporary part time teacher with no experience in public school education whatsoever, we didn't get far into that part of the conversation before my dander started to rise.

I know the students he's teaching -- I'm intimately familiar with their levels, their abilities, their personalities and their characters. I know what they can understand out of me and what they have trouble with. I know how to make the material work on their level, and how to best go about getting them using English in the classroom, as well as how to completely overwhelm them and lead them straight into a mental shutdown. He's been teaching them for a week, and is already admitting to having more than a few issues with them.

I also know the Korean workplace, however, and I know that telling a new, older coworker to lay the fuck off is not the best way to go about things. You gotta play nice, like, you see. So. I got up from my seat, went to my desk and pulled out the second grade book. I showed him which section I teach. He told me he thought that section was too difficult for the students to understand from the native teacher in English. I explained that yes, just looking at the book, the lesson is too difficult for the lower level students, which is why I don't use only the book, but also -- here, look -- these worksheets that I've created, which break the subject matter down in a way that they can understand and process, as well as gives them the vocabulary they need to complete the assignment. All in English.

Not willing to let go just yet, he readjusts his strategy and now suggests that I should teach not only the first structure, which just two minutes ago was too difficult for the students to even understand, but also ten variations on the structure. Within 45 minutes. That's a nice idea, I say. I'd love to teach the students all of those variations. First, though -- don't you agree? -- I should teach the structure outlined in the text, which they will be tested on, and then if there is any time left over in class, I will be happy to get to all of those suggested variations.

I don't know where the fuck that even came from. I've never had a co-teacher try to take over my class like that, not even back when I was a newb with literally no fucking clue what I was doing, when it would have been completely legitimate for them to be bossing me around. Let alone without having ever even seen me teach. Let alone while being a part timer who is brand spanking new at both the job and the school. But lucky for me, I've watched my coworkers navigate this kind of shit often enough to have learned how to completely agree with someone, while also completely disagreeing. Telling them that I will do what they want, while also making it clear that I have no intentions whatsoever of doing any of it.

Co sat discretely behind her cubicle divide during this entire conversation and, once the new teacher had left the office, shot a look over the wall. I pulled a face and she busted out laughing. Thank the universe for my co-teachers. I could have it a hell of a lot worse.


saharial said...

I can think of a lot of situations in life that this technique would be awesome for! That being said, whilst I have never consciously done what he did to you, I'll make sure I don't. Ever. ;)

Anonymous said...

Seems like he has a bad case of the eager-beavers. Seriously, though, I reckon if he is as novice as you believe, he may be projecting his nervousness and insecurities on you.

I had a bad case of the eager-beavers when I first started tutoring. I was dreadful. If you had to work with me, you'd have strung me up.

I need more shenanigans like these where I work...

-- .38

I'm no Picasso said...

Saharial -- It's quite useful to have learned. I don't think I'd ever deploy it back in the States, as it's easier for me to just be direct, when the situation allows it, but here in Korea....

.38 -- Yeah I reckon that's exactly what it was. Just heard he was going to be teaching with the native teacher, but not much else, and thought he'd get on the ball, not realizing that I"m not actually a teacher's assistant, no matter what my contract says. Doesn't seem like a bad guy. But we did need to kind of get it straight, in some sense, that he's not actually my boss. I doubt there will be a single problem after he sees me with the students and realizes how comfortable they are with me and my class. If they don't get something, or can't do something, they hardly fail to make that known.