Next week my wife and I will be attending the (belated) GEPIK orientation. It’s a five-day retreat with all the other new native English teachers in Gyeonggi province. At the moment it looks like being a five-day paid holiday, with free accommodation and food, even though according to the schedule and outline it will be an opportunity for “learning” and “networking”. Well, I’m hoping to pick up at least a few trips and tricks while there, but at the moment it feels a little like going on veldschool. Let’s hope that I’m wrong.
It’s a bit odd having the orientation only now, four months after the new school year started and many of the new teachers arrived. So I do feel that this event may be of limited value. I’ve already got a good idea of what my job is about, mostly learnt through trial and error after the last few months. Well, more error than trial.
The lack of any orientation or training before starting work at your public school is a major problem in the GEPIK programme. My school was shocked to find out that I hadn’t had any orientation prior to arriving at the school, and this explained why we initially had some tension. We realised that the school expected me to already know what I was meant to do, and I was under the impression that the school was going to tell me exactly what was expected of me. So things only improved after they found out that no, no-one had told me squat before I arrived.
If there is any issue that I’ll raise during our Q&A sessions at the orientation, it will be this. For the rest of the time I plan to sit back and soak up the learning. Let’s hold thumbs that there aren’t any “group activities”. I hate those.