I'm having a very frustrating time with one of my co-teachers at the moment. It will probably not come as any surprise that it's one of the temporary teachers, but there you have it. She's the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" co-teacher who has basically decided to just kneel down and take everything the students want to give her, with a smile, in hopes of being able to survive.

The problem is not that, although as I've mentioned before, her little chit-chats with the students in the middle of my lectures are not my favorite thing to encounter throughout the course of the day, it has to be said. But now that the principal has forced the co-teachers back into the classroom full time, she's decided to be extra proactive and act as a translator.

Again, I understand that if this were my first year, I would probably really appreciate that. However, as it stands, it's not productive. In fact, the students seem to be finding the transition to be very confusing. As am I, to be frank. Because not only is she making me defunct and pointless to listen to with her translations of everything I say into Korean, when the students are perfectly adjusted to having to listen to me in English only, but she's also random as fuck. She won't translate things in the exact same way that I've worded them in English, which leaves the students glancing back and forth between us, trying to figure out if they should answer the question their Korean teacher asked them in Korean, or if they should answer the question they think their foreign teacher probably asked them in English.

Obviously, they usually go with the safe option. Which leaves me scrambling to get them back on course to head in the direction I'm trying to go for.

It's incredibly frustrating. And unnecessary.

But today, she's developed an even better habit. She watched me closely during my first class of the day, and for the other two classes -- I shit you not -- allowed me to get exactly one sentence of what I had to say out, each time I went to speak, before interrupting me in Korean to say everything she knew I was about to say in Korean. Before I even had the chance to say it in English.

Really? Would you like me just to give you my lesson plans and materials and you can spend my forty-five minutes a week teaching the students how to answer simple questions in Korean? Because I'm struggling to see what other purpose you're allowing me to serve at this point, honestly.

I've already spoken to her a couple of times about the translation, and of course she argues that the students can't understand. That's fine. The students have been understanding for two years with no translation, but now that you're in the room, they can't understand. I got it. Except for the fact that they can't complete their assignments when they don't actually learn the English phrases they need to know to complete their assignments, because they are too busy answering the questions you are translating entirely into Korean and not paying any attention to the English portion of the class at all.

She agreed to allow the students to listen to me in English only at least for the portions where I am checking their comprehension and practicing the grammar patterns with them as a class.

Of course, the logical thing to start doing after having had this conversation is to just cut me out of my own lecture entirely.

She's not a bitchy lady, and I think she genuinely would like to help, but she doesn't have a fucking clue what she's doing and it's driving me up a wall. I'm not sure how many more times I'll have to sit down and gently explain these same basic concepts, or how much worse it could get in the meantime. For the last class today, I gave her two or three opportunities to translate like a normal fucking human being before I gave up and just continued talking, even when she tried to cut me off in Korean. Confused the living fuck out of the students, but after a few failed attempts to butt in on her part, she eventually gave up and waited for me to at least finish what I was saying. I also did something I normally prefer to use as a last resort in order to prove a point, which was to ask the students to tell me in Korean what the words and sentences meant. When they repeated them back quickly and perfectly, minus her translation, she seemed to relax a little about how they couldn't possibly be understanding a single thing that was going on, and let me get back to what I was doing.

It's frustrating. The interrupting cow nature of the whole thing is the absolute worst. I was in the middle of giving three clues about a city today, when she interrupted in the middle of the second sentence to tell the students that the city name started with the letter A. Which they already knew, because it was up on the screen. So why she thought the middle of my sentence was the best time to announce this thing, in Korean, I have no idea. But there she is, going off like a half-cocked gun. 

Say a prayer for me on this one. I've got two and a half more months with this co-teacher. And then let's hope she decides staying home and taking care of her kids wasn't such an awful idea after all.


travelbug said...

Keep strong and you are already using a good method to retrain her inappropirate translation reflexes.

Go Away With Jae said...

On an irritation level of 1-10 (10 being the most annoying), where does she rank? How about your previous head teacher? :-)

I'm no Picasso said...

Thanks, travelbug.Today we reinforced a little by telling the students, every time she translated one of my questions, "Hey. You answer my question to me in English. Not to the other teacher in Korean. It's my question, and this is English class." She backed down a little more after that. Not sure what else to do, really.

GAWJ.... uh... five. I would say. She definitely has her moments when she spikes to like an 8 though. HT was a solid 7 for the first few months, but has been on the decline ever since I got used to her trolling and stopped even trying to react.