By popular demand I thought I’d write something about a typical day teaching at a middle school in Korea. By “popular demand” I mean one person asked and it seemed like a good idea. Anyway, here’s the lowdown from my few days of experience:
I catch the bus to my school every day at about 07:30, and get to school at about 07:50. Officially I don’t have to be in until about 08:20, but I find the extra 30 minutes really useful for preparing for the day, and all the other teachers are already in, so it seems only fair. They always seem quite pleased that I come in early.
Classes start at 08:50, and since I’m at a middle school they last about 45 minutes each, with ten minutes between classes. This is really short if you have a good lesson, and REALLY long if things go badly. We have about four lessons before lunch, which lasts for an hour, and then two or three lessons after lunch (depending on the day). We finish classes usually at 15:20 (though on some days at 16:10) and then the kids clean the school. Yes, that’s right, the kids clean the school. Awesome! They are usually done within 30 minutes, and then I stick around until 16:30 or 17:00, depending on how much I have to do. From next month I’ll be teaching an afterschool English class in that last hour.
I teach 22 lessons a week, so on any given day I have between four and five classes, with no more than three in a row. So far this has been fine, if a bit tiring. The trick is to do your preparation when you have breaks between classes, which is doing wonders for my time management skills. No more procrastination for me!
I’m not expected to give or mark homework, prepare or mark tests, or do any of the usual teacher stuff. All I’m meant to do is have interesting classes where the students practise their English. This is not as easy as it sounds, but I’m confident it will get easier as things go on. I’m worried about the boredom factor, since each grade has at least ten classes in it. Thus, each lesson that I prepare gets presented at least ten times. I’ve started jazzing things up in each class just to save myself from sitting through the same lesson ten times! I’m only interesting to myself up to a point.
This seems to be the norm for most public schools. However, some people teach more classes, others teach less. Some (like my wife) get their own classrooms, others (like me) don’t. At least there is some variety to this public school teacher thing!