4.25.2011

A woman scorned.

I've had the sneaking suspicion that the S.O. kind of looks down on my job. Not in the sense that he looks down on being a teacher, but in the sense that he doesn't get how hard it is, or how much energy it takes. I already said I try not to complain about my job to him, because he is working super long hours. But at the same time, after teaching eight straight classes today, grading journals in between during breaks, having another load of lesson plan paperwork dumped on me for tomorrow, and then running to the study room afterward to teach more classes, his sarcastic little pause on the phone when I made a comment about how hard today was after he fucking woke me up was not appreciated.

So I felt inclined to finally make it clear that, although I know he is working long hours, sitting in front of a computer all day can really not compare to controlling forty wild teenage boys for eight hours in row in a language they don't understand.

"Pssssh. I could control."

Yeah? Yeah, S.O.? You know what? I would love to see it. I really would love to sit and watch that. Because the only thing the boys will try to eat alive faster than a young female teacher is a young male teacher in whom they sense any weakness at all. We had a new young male teacher start this year. Do you know what happened to him in his first week? A student (who, I would like to point out, I have never had a single problem out of) kicked him in the shin and the entire class proceeded to hoot and holler and laugh, until the teacher ended up crying in the teacher's office after school.

That shit is not a joke. I don't think any job could possibly make you brain dead faster. Yes, it's true that I'm home by 6:30 or 7 most nights. But can I fucking function once I make it home, in order to actually do anything productive with that time? Not these days. Not at 27 teaching hours a week, I cannot. I keep dragging my sorry ass to the coffee shop after work in a vain attempt to keep up the Korean studying now-turned-charade, and then end up just staring at an incomprehensible page for 45 minutes, before giving up and going home.

Then I mostly try not to fall asleep until 10 or so. Until his sorry ass calls me because he's out for a fucking walk, getting some exercise after his day of sitting in a fucking chair.

I love my job, but eight classes in a day is simply too much. The thing is, it wears on your patience. I have the theory that adding teaching hours onto other teaching hours is not simple 1 + 1 = 2 math we're talking -- it's exponential. N to the eighth fucking power. Because, with every class you teach, your patience gets depleted. And the less patience you have left, the harder the next class is.

The last person I was more seriously seeing in Korea and I had to finally just give up on seeing each other on weeknights. Because he would crack a simple, childish joke and I would find it difficult not to haul off and give a smartass comment about how I was around children all fucking day and --

Anyway. It's not that serious at the moment. I can handle the students much more easily than I used to be able to. But I am tired. And my patience is thin. And if there were any way in the world I could make that little man stand up there and do what I do for eight hours in a row just once, I would do it.

He could control. Really. Really......

18 comments:

Tuttle said...

Why do you think your SO could not be a good teacher? Really?

anji said...

Been lurking around your blog for a while, I'm not much of a commenter though.
I really understand where you're coming from. My mom's a primary school teacher and I've done my share of volunteering to help her over the years. I'm usually totally and utterly dead after a day, like the end of the world couldn’t raise me from my self-induced vegetative state.
Most people just totally underestimate how hard it is to teach kids (or any age group) and not just stand in front of a class and waste time until you get your paycheck (know quite a few of those too).
I'm always astounded by people who choose to go into education 'cause they don't know what else to do and it seems like an easy and safe choice (I usually have to keep myself from bashing my head into the nearest hard surface -_-;).
Anyway sorry for the rant, here have some metaphorical Brownies *givesbrownies*, after all Chocolate's a cure all.

I'm no Picasso said...

Well, Tuttle, what makes you think he *would* be? Presumably I do know a bit more about the man, considering I'm the one in a relationship with him.

In all seriousness, I have no idea where you got the idea that I thought he wouldn't be a good teacher. I never even implied that. What I did imply is that he couldn't just waltz into my classroom and control 40 teenage boys at the drop of a hat, easy-peasy. And he couldn't. Which -- guess what? -- he knows. Because he only made the comment tongue-in-cheek to recover from the very real scoff he gave when I said I'd had a hard day.

Anji -- I don't get people "falling back" on teaching either. I mean, fall back on an office job or something. Teaching is not fucking easy. I also don't get people who "fall back" on waitressing. I could never do that work and keep my sanity. And if I didn't love teaching, you couldn't pay me enough money in the world to do it.

anageonism said...

It's a weird cultural meme that teaching is sort of a cushy job. That obnoxious "Those who can't do, teach, lolololol" thing that people pull. I think people in North America at least look at the vacation time and the theoretical 9-3 hours and think of something relaxing and with plentiful time off, without any real conception of the real work that goes into that time, or the work that goes into the hours before and after that time.

Most of the Koreans I know are involved in education in one way or another, so I haven't been heard much of this kind of opinion. Have you heard it from any other people? Do you think this kind of idea exists in Korea too, or was it more of an off-handed thing to stick the landing off of the scoff in this instance?

I'm no Picasso said...

Anageonism -- I have heard it, funny enough, in the form of complaints from my coteachers. There seems to be a lot of complaining in the Korean public about how easy public school teachers have it. When you look at their official working hours and vacation time compared to the average Korean job, it's understandable, but the amount of work that goes into and beyond those hours is vastly underestimated. Basically, it sounds about the same.

Plus there seems to be the idea that PS teachers can't get fired, and therefore are lazy and sometimes even considered the bottom of the barrel. The idea is that they're not good enough to make it in the hagwon world -- why wouldn't you want to work fewer hours teaching higher level students in smaller class sizes for more money if you could? So they must not be well-educated enough to survive in the hagwon world.

I think the S.O. doesn't really know that much about it though, and was mostly just being a smartass. Which is understandable. I get home hours before him every night, live in a much nicer place and have loads more spending cash than he does. But I keep telling him to wait five years and look back at me still stuck in the same position, while he's moved well up and beyond me at his company, because he's Korean and has the ability to do that. Then it won't look so cushy.

anageonism said...

That's really interesting. Were these teachers older or younger, mostly? The younger teachers I talk to certainly feel the weight of the work more, it seems. Older teachers certainly get their share, but my friend mentioned that in addition to teaching his full class load and doing the ridiculous amount of paperwork Korean teachers are loaded with, he also spent the last three days planting hundreds of begonias for his school. The official hours and vacation certainly sound pleasant, but there's seldom mention of the additional work or the common need to stay for extra time.

I'm also curious about the Korean teacher hagwon world, and while it is more lucrative if it is more risky? Or if the treatment frequently doled out on foreigners is just because of the unique labour situation, in that they'll be heading back to their home countries eventually and can't effectively navigate Korean labour dispute issues.

I'm no Picasso said...

Really, the shit they get drawn into is atrocious sometimes. I know I've been bitching a lot lately about my job, and I've even said to the S.O., look I'm just not actually Korean yet... I'm still adjusting. But the amount of work I watch my coworkers do -- especially the younger ones -- is just inconceivable to me. I don't think other Korean employees understand how much pressure and stress is involved, either. It's kind of like being a parent to 40 kids, with all the mishaps, behavioral problems, illnesses, and the progress of each student they're expected to keep on top of. Not to mention the fighting, bullying and disrespect. Hagwon teachers only deal with a fraction of all of that.

And yes, the coteachers who have complained have mostly been younger. But not that young.

I really don't know much about the hagwon world at all, except that my coteachers who have Korean friends working in hagwons often relay kind of similar stories in terms of how they have to teach to please the parents, and are at the extreme mercy of the student evaluations. They don't feel like they can really do their jobs, because if the students don't think they're "fun" or "nice", then they can get fired on the spot.

Ms said...

When we were dating, I think my husband secretly held the same thoughts as your SO, but never said anything because he knew there would be a shit storm. Then, after we got married he saw the piles of essays around the house, and he realized that when he went to bed at midnight after a 14 hr day at the office, I was still staying up until 2 marking and prepping(and I wasn't able to take naps on the weekend like him because those piles of marking are a constant part of the decor in our house). Now whenever we run into someone who questions how busy I could really be, he is very vocal about how many extra hours I put in.

Gomushin Girl said...

And that is the reason that the program I came to teach with not only makes people go through six weeks of training, part of that training includes co-teaching middle school students. Best that they realize the almighty terrors they're expected to control are not pushovers, and taking charge in the classroom is not easy. I very vividly remember the physical exertions of being a teacher, too - 90% of the day you're up on your feet, checking to make sure they're on task, heading over to this corner to answer a question, back to the front to write something on the board, getting the kid in the corner to stop eating the curtains . . . I used to come home absolutely beat, and my maximum course load was 5 classes in a day. People who think this is easy work are delusional.

FromNoonaWithLove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FromNoonaWithLove said...

"Hagwon teachers only deal with a fraction of all of that".

Beg to differ!! Students at my old hagwon spent an average of twelve hours there a week. Two thirds of these were with their foreign teacher. If there is any child harboring so much as a hint of an attitude problem or behavioural disorder you can be sure as hell that it will have manifested itself by the ninth flipping hour they’ve had to spend in your classroom that week. Also, parents are less likely to pull a child out of a hagwon class because he or she is ill, simply because they will have already paid heftily and in advance for it. I’ve taught kids having to sporadically having to run out of the room to vomit because their Mothers would literally not let them come home. Although I know that this is a common theme across the both public and private school board.

You’re right that in theory hagwon teachers should have it easier because they’re generally teaching students of a higher level than those at a public school, and to an extent, I do agree. But this grace *often* gets made redundant when the above-national-average student you’re teaching has, in order to please her parents, been placed in a class literal light-years beyond the level at which she should be. In my experience that intermediate-level student often may as well be a pre-beginner, if what you’re being forced to 'teach' them is a text you yourself found challenging when studying it during the third year of your own English Literature degree.

Six hours a day of straight teaching at my old hagwon was standard. Prep time is/was less than at a public school, but for iBT and ‘upper level’ classes (which constituted 80% of what I had to teach by my last semester there) still took 45 minutes to an hour each class at least. I received five days of holiday during that whole year and had to work on Children’s Day, Christmas Day and Chuseok. I would have had to work on New Year ’s Day too if I hadn’t booked it off work as part of my five days’ worth. For half of the year I also worked six days a week.

I know that there are difficulties public school teachers have to deal with the hagwon teachers don’t, and it sounds like you're being handed a boat load of crap recently, but I wouldn’t even have to think about which I’d choose to work at if I had to ><

11:36

I'm no Picasso said...

Noona -- Maybe you misunderstood. I wasn't talking about foreign teachers. I was talking about Korean teachers. Students spent 12 hours a week at your hagwon, but they spend 9 to 10 hours a day at their public schools. Korean hagwon teachers are not expected to participate actively in the raising of the children the way PS teachers are. They do not: control the students smoking and drinking habits, drive the students to and from school, run to the pharmacy to buy medicine for the students when they are sick, stay after school for hours counseling the students on personal issues, have to deal with social services for hours when something is wrong in the student's home, make phone calls all day trying to get absent or delinquent students back into the building, get into their cars and go to track down delinquent students when phone calls fail, deal with the police when a student shoplifts.

They do not have the same responsibilty at all that PS teachers do. Nor do they have the same levels of stress. In short, yes -- the do only deal with a fraction of what the PS teachers deal with.

Again, maybe you mistook my comment as being in regards to foreign teachers. But even then, didn't you yourself once say that teaching hagwon was a piece of cake because the curriculum was just handed to you? Not the case in all hagwon work... a lot of hagwon teachers are expected to create their own curriculum and the supporting documents, and spend a lot of overtime hours grading and getting shit done. I know that. I'm the one who spends every evening talking to Grace on the phone while she takes a break from her hours upon hours upon hours of afterwork work at the coffee shop....

I'm no Picasso said...

And one other small note: teaching six straight classes with 5-15 students in them can really not be compared to teaching six straight classes with 40 students in them. If you've never taught 40 students at once before, then you have no way of knowing *how* different it is. But as someone who cuts down to about 15 for camps, and then teaches 6-8 hours a day and *still* feels like it's a vacation in comparison, you'll just have to trust me on that one.

FromNoonaWithLove said...

Sorry yes I was skim reading and misunderstood it to be about foreign teachers. I don't know anything about Korean teachers working in public schools so I can't really comment. The Korean teachers at my old hagwon used to work longer hours than we foreigne teachers did for about half of the pay. And they're the ones who had to deal with all the pushy parents. Perhaps they didn't have it as tough as public school Koreans, but they, erm, certainly had it tougher than us. Don't think anyone's disputing that, though.

I don't remember saying it was a piece of cake, I would have to go back and look, but yes I have said several times that down-to-the-minute class plans are handed to you for many hagwon classes (although not literature based or iBT ones). With penalties and in-class CCTV proof if you don't stick to them. But I find teaching from my own material far easier than teaching from something that's been handed to me and more often than not is completely unsuited to the children in the class.

It wasn't a case of teaching six individual classes at the hagwon I worked for. It was two classes a day each lasting three hours, with five minute breaks on each hour. Some might say this is easier. Having since taught shorter hour-long classes I'm not so sure I would. But yes, my maximum class size at the hagwon was 18. Smallest class size, one.

Brieana said...

Hey INP. Although I've read your blog for quite some time now, I've never commented before. But I can fully understand where you are coming from. I myself actually teach/tutor kids with autism. And while I only work 3-4 hour sessions at a time; it REALLY IS MENTALLY DRAINING. And when I tell people how tired I get after 1 session they always make comments like "Well, it's not like you have to do any physical labor!" or "pffft whatever you didn't even work 7-8 hours like me! I could do that"
.......
WHAT? Are you really going to claim that you can do my job better than me when YOU don't even know what it entails? I just WISH you could work my 4 hours *rolls eyes*

I've worked with typical kids do and they aren't that much easier to work with either. Especially because little kids like to test you when you first start working.

Don't get me wrong. I like my job and I know that it has it's perks too BUT it really does take the mental strength and the patience of a saint to properly educate kids and refrain from pimp slapping them from time to time.

(sorry for my unorganized babble)

Rob-o-SE-yo said...

After they immigrated to Canada, my grandfather would bike across town, work a ten hour day in a factory, bike home, and carry his bike up the stairs to the verandah where he was supposed to store his bike.

THen he got a job nearby, teaching kids something or other in a community center not far from home, for six hours a day, and when he got home, he was too tired to lug his bike up the stairs.

Those who haven't taught kids will never get it.

ALSO increases teaching difficulty at an exponential rate.

Hang in there.

PD said...

this is funny because last night while i was dining, two white dudes walked in with a korean girl and sat next to our table. right away they started talking and this is what i heard:

korean girl: so what's the problem with *that* class?
white dude 1: (exasperated, literally sobbing) they always come in late. they're always talking over me during class. they throw things at one another and one time a fight broke out between two students and i had to step in and break it up...
korean girl: sounds like hell.
white dude 2: you gotta go native on them.
korean girl: (in korean to the server) can we get a bottle of soju first?

so yeah. when i read the part about these animals eating a weak male teacher alive, i laughed my ass off.

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