SO, it turns out I was to be teaching at 4 middle schools and a couple were combined middle and high schools – needless to say my students were not elementary students. From the beginning I was already ill prepared being thrown into the classroom with middle and high school students.
To make matters worse, I had a co-teacher with no prior experience with an EPIK teacher. This co-teacher is, ideally, basically your supervisor, admin, counselor and mentor in a way. These co-teachers aren’t trained or guided as to how to work with another co-teacher or work as a team. WE are taught how to work with them, but it has to be both ways otherwise it won’t work as it so often does. Some teachers don’t even have a co-teacher. Some have co-teachers but don’t even attend your classes. Some attend your classes but sit in the corner and do nothing at all. Some are graced with them assisting with classroom management – a fancy term for keeping kids in their place!
The best way to describe my relationship with my co-teachers is to present this scenario of Q&A – I wanted some guidance towards what lessons I should be teaching the kids and whether or not the co-teachers wanted to team up and complement lessons. To which I got the same response from all my co-teachers at all 4 schools – teach “culture.” While many countries have a distinct culture and can probably come up with a lesson for every school week, coming from the States I found this very troubling and confusing.
Therefore I spent a year BASHING my brains out as to what and how to teach these middle and high school students. I also found myself pulling my hair out as to how can I motivate my students to actually want to study English rather than being forced to be in a class where they had no interest in. I used resources online and spoke with my fellow peers but in the end I had no idea what I was doing. Least to say, I was completely lost for an entire year in a program designed to bring, train and assist native English speakers to teach Korean public school students English for like a decade or so.
While I was teaching at 4 schools all separate from one another, my main school was unable to facilitate it so I would feel more included at the school. Everyone knew who I was, thanks to the SUDDEN introduction at the welcome ceremony at the start of the year, and yet I knew no one. If I was not teaching, I was trying to figure things out on my own at my desk, alone. When events or the such were in the plans, I only found out on the day of, or even afterwards since I wasn’t at the school on the day as I was teaching at another school.
Eventually I ended up exploring the school on my own and found the table tennis room where I would secretly use the equipment to practice by myself from time to time. I thought of many times of how exciting it would’ve been to have been asked if I would like to be more involved at school. Truth be told though, I was so confused with my own lesson planning and such that I always left school as soon as I could – just to escape the reminder of my continued failure to be an educator.
I feel like if I learned anything, it would be to not worry or obsess so much over your students and focus on having fun while teaching; a teacher having fun usually leads to students having fun, ideally anyways.