Well there are a few things that I don’t like about my job which is of course typical. I would be surprised to ever have a job that had no flaws. But one thing that worries me about my job is that I really have to be careful with my students. It seems like of course I’d want to be careful. Of course I want to look out for them. But it’s more to it than that.
As most may know I work at what is called a hagwon. It is a private academy. So the kids go to regular public school and then they come to this “second” school/academy to learn English. There are many types of hagwons. Some teach art, math or taekwondo. Some have a Christian foundation (like mine), some don’t. But the most common type of hagwon is for English teaching.
These hagwons are not free. I still haven’t been able to get an idea of how much it costs exactly, but it’s cheap enough that most students will attend a hagwon at least once in their lifetime and many will do so for several years. The whole idea (especially with English teaching hagwons) is for parents to get their kids ahead any way they can.
So a hagwon is a business. Hagwons want to build up a good reputation, get students and make money. Parents are concerned with two things: is their child learning English and is their child happy there? The latter is where my problem comes in.
Whether the students are learning English is not a huge concern of mine. Hey just by being around English speakers and practicing what they know is helping them. There’s still lots I have to learn to be a better teacher, but overall I don’t feel that my students leave without learning even a little bit.
But are they happy here? Do they like me? Gosh I don’t know anymore. When I was the new, shiny English teacher I would say yes of course. Now that the “honeymoon phase” of teaching has passed, I can’t easily answer that question.
While training me, Ree had told me to be aware of the kids, to make sure I praise them when they do well and punish them when they don’t obey. The kids want to be noticed and by making sure I gave out praises and discipline they would see that and feel noticed here. I’ve been trying that as much as I can. Ree also said when the students feel unnoticed they don’t like being here and when they don’t like being here they tell mom and dad. And what do mom and dad do? Take their money elsewhere. She even warned me not to follow in the footsteps of a previous teacher who had quite many students drop out while she was here.
I’ve been trying my best to be a good teacher who helps the students learn and also be a good teacher that the students like. Sometimes I know they are upset with me for things I’ve done or said, but it only lasts for a day. And then it’s all back to normal…
Except it’s not for some students.
A few students have not been as talkative to me as before. Maybe because the newness has worn off, but I worry when they seem to ignore me now.
One student hasn’t talked to me since last week. Or rather he only talks to me when he has to. He was one of the students I liked the most. Always active in class, very smart and even outside of class would chat with me. Now he barely looks at me. I ask him a question and get nothing. Saying hi and bye to him gets ignored. I could punish him for being rude to me, but I don’t know if they would make the situation worse. When I asked about why he was down last week, the other students said it was because I said we would play a game and we didn’t (which is not true).
What’s worse is that another kid in the same class is picking up some of those habits of ignoring me and just not being as active anymore. Today I asked him a question about a game he was playing before class. He looked straight at me as I asked the question. Then went back to his game, ignoring me.
I can’t help but think how much longer will these kids be around. What can I do to make it better? Do we need to play more games? But is that okay with Mrs. K?
So when I say I have to be careful, that’s what I mean. I have to make sure I make no promises about a game the next day because if I don’t follow through the kids will be mad at me (some students were even upset today because they told me I said they could play a game today when in reality I was saying yes to another student’s question, not the “can we play a game tomorrow?” question. And I even clarified this yesterday.) I have to make sure no gets gets too angry or too sad. I must make sure I’m giving praises and scolding enough so they know I’m watching. And the things is, I get it. I really understand that. If I had to go to a second school I would be picky about it to and if I felt unnoticed I would tell my parents I hated it. Or I felt it was not fun enough I would complain too. I get it. That’s the downside to working at a hagwon. They are not forced to go to this specific hagwon. They can always go somewhere else. It’s not real school where they have to accept it. And I wonder if the students are aware of this and try to manipulate things as much as they can. I don’t know. I’m just rambling and venting now.
Anyway, I’ll carry on like I always do!