Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This blog might a be a bit scattered - mostly because it comes at the tail end of a very long day. I have a nasty cold which my co-teacher was kind enough to get me medication for last night. Still, this morning sucked. Getting out of bed has rarely been so shabby an experience for me as it was this morning. It didn't help that I also had a long day today, combined with teaching new lessons for the first time etc. Then, to top it off, I had my first of two student after-school conversation classes. I'm sure that in a short time these classes will come to be my favorite ones at the school. Today though, it was a challenge.

But let me get back to numbers:

Currently, I teach 20 regular classes in a week - four each day.

Each class in only 45 minutes in length, though in school terms, it counts for an hour of teaching, which means that I am paid for 20 hours of regular classes when I really only teach 15.

That might seem like a strange occurrence - a Korean employer actually erring on your side when it comes to measuring payable work time, but don't forget that I am also at school for 8:30 and leave at 4:30.

The classes I teach break-down as follows:

Of the 20 regular classes I teach, 5 of them are grade 9 (Middle School Grade 3) classes. I see 5 of these grade 9 classes, and then another five of these classes in alternating weeks. All in all for grade 3, I teach 10 different classes and they take up 25% of my class work-week. There are roughly 35 students per class for a rough total of 350 grade 9 students.

My grade 7s are a different story. I teach 15 grade 7 classes each week and I get to see them every week as opposed to every second week like I do the grade 9s. The 15 classes break down as follows:

5 Beginning Level (Ha) classes (32 students per class = 160 students)
5 Intermediate (Chung) classes (24 students per class = 120 students)
5 Advanced (Sang) classes (14 students per class) = 70 students)

As you can see - they make up the other 75% of my teaching hours every week. I teach a total of 15 hours (11 and a quarter actually) to roughly 350 grade 7 students.

The quick math is: I teach over 700 different students. Yep.

This is a far cry from my experience last year, so perhaps this entry should really be entitled "Hagwons VS Public School Part II", but really, a blog about numbers is boring enough :) I know right now that one thing I will certainly miss is the opportunity to get to know my students. If I think about it, last year, during a very busy class schedule, I would at most have 5 different classes per week with a maximum of 14 students per class. That's a maximum of 70 students a teaching period for me. That number would usually average out to much less.

What that meant for me was a lot less kids, and a lot more time with each. I really got to know them all very well. That was a huge bonus for me. Obviously a smaller class size simply means a more individualized approach to education.

So many things can slip through the cracks in large groups as my grade 9s can attest to. The disparity between those who can speak competently and those who can't is quite staggering - considering they have likely been involved in English lessons from primary school.

There's a lot that comes with such a schedule. Though I have breaks from time to time, what was a 2 hour prep time for me last year has simply been scattered into little breaks (free periods) here and there depending on the day.

In time, the workload will be less, but this week, as mentioned way above, has been about introducing new after-school classes for interested students. Next week will be about me introducing two teacher speaking courses: one for my English co-teachers and another for lower-level speakers on staff who wish to improve their English. I have been told that interest is actually quite high, so that bodes well. With everything up and running, I will be teaching:

20 regular classes
2 student conversation classes *(extra pay on top of my salary)
2 adult conversation classes

Game on.

Anyway, I've thrown enough numbers at you for today. If you got to the bottom of this entry, then you have a better understanding of the numbers that make up my week - congratulations. I know that maybe wasn't entirely exciting to know about, but if you've ever worked in Korea, or were thinking about it, then I'm sure that this schedule would be a consideration. It's not a cake-walk, not at all - but it certainly contains the possibility of me not having to take work home with me nearly as much as I did last year. That is so very good.

That's just the way things go here - I need to keep reminding myself of that fact. The streets, subways and sidewalks are all crowded - of course the schools would be too. We all have jobs to do and conditions will never be perfect. I am just so grateful that conditions at my job are honest. I may not get to know 700 kids the way i would like to, but I get to meet them. That's a good place to start.

Lastly, though I am somewhat disheartened at the thought of trying to learn 700+ names over the next three months. Here is one name I won't forget. This young man chose his own English name and revealed it to me with great pride: "I am Indian Prince!" he exclaimed - pointing to the mole in the middle of his forehead - his friends cheering him on. It was honest and fun and cool - not a note of mockery to be had from anyone. "Indian Prince" it is. One down, 699 to go...

1 comment:

vagabondshandi said...

700 kids, man that's mental. Well none of them may end up being Pigs, but at least you may get 100 times the back rubs out of the deal!