Monday, October 4, 2010

Tales of 5th Grade Drama

Two of my co-teachers left last week. Yong Eun, the 6th grade co-teacher who is approximately a million months pregnant, left for her scheduled maternity leave, and Suk Jeong, the 5th grade co-teacher, announced that due to her pregnancy, she wouldn't be able to finish the school year. She's been in and out of school she started having complications following a car wreck in May. She would start having problems and be put on temporary bed rest, the school would scramble to find a replacement* and fail, the 5th graders would miss class and fall behind, a substitute would finally be found and classes resumed their normal schedule, Suk Jeong would come back to school for a couple of weeks and then start having complications again, and the whole repeat. I get that Suk Jeong is in a difficult position and obviously I want what's best for her and her baby, but it wasn't fair to the school or the students.

Both Yong Eun and Suk Jeong will be out for the rest of the school year, so the newest substitute, Sue, will be my co-teacher for the rest of the year. I've only taught with her for two days, but so far I really like her. She's a bit stricter on the students that I would be (fairly minor infractions result in the offending students spending half of class on their knees with their hands in the air in the back of the classroom), but I would much rather have a co-teacher who comes down like the Hammer of Thor on the students than one who can't control them. (I think she's simple establishing some ground rules and will probably lighten up after a few weeks, since she seems pretty relaxed about student behavior in between classes.) Her English is good and she doesn't feel the need to translate everything I say, but she's also not afraid to step up and explain things in Korean when the students are struggling. I think she's going to be a good co-teacher, and I'm relieved to finally have a 5th grade co-teacher who will reliable come to school for the rest of the year.

*Since Korea doesn't do sicks days (no seriously, if you're not in the hospital, you go to school/work sick) there isn't a network of substitute teachers for the a school to call upon. If a homeroom teacher is out sick, one of the special activity teachers (music, English, etc.) cancel their classes and cover cover for the sick teacher. If one of the special activity teachers is out,** their classes are just canceled and the homeroom teachers cover that period. If the teacher is going to be out for a while, the school has to find an out-of-work teacher to replace her, which takes a while.

**Since I'm not a licensed Korean teacher, I'm not suppose to teach classes by myself. When Suk Jeong is absent, the homeroom teachers are suppose to accompany their students to English class and act as the co-teacher, but they're busy and also, don't all speak English, so they usually disappear after a few minutes to go to their office to work. Also, the 5th graders are suppose to have English twice a week, but I only teach them once a week, so they're still missing a class per week.

No comments:

Post a Comment