Friday, 15 November 2013


 Co-Teachers....I don't think anyone would argue the importance of co-teachers and how they influence your experience in Korea. I've met guys with amazing co-teachers that don't have much of an age gap. They hang out, and even go out in the evenings and partake in drinking some of Korea's finest. Then you hear about the the guys who have old-school battle axes that are about as helpful as a chocolate teapot. There really are a variety of co-teachers, as you would expect. I do believe though that a good co-teacher would influence you staying in Korea for maybe another year, whereas a bad co-teacher would certainly make you want to bail and head for the hills.

I would say I've had a little mix of co-teachers over the last 2 years, and I really started thinking about it when my 4th and 5th grade co-teacher (ct) went on maternity leave.

When I arrived at my last school I had 2 ct's. 4th and 5th. My 4th grade ct is a nice lady about my age that is really helpful and on the ball. She gives me enough freedom to do pretty much what I want to do, but at the same time keeping me in check if she thinks that my ideas are dogshit and I need to change my lesson plan. It works well for me....If I had to criticise her I'd just say she lacks the funny/goofy side of entertaining students that I like to use.

My 5th grade ct was well into her 50's/60's....hard to tell. She had a slight disability that didn't really slow her down too much. She was fierce most of the time, which I liked a lot, but she was old-school. Working with her was like talking to a brick to a brick wall. She was not interested in my input at all. Her style and mine was just not gonna mix at all. There was no way I could continue working with her when the semester ended. Fortunately, she was leaving for another school. I can say with 100% confidence say that I would not have stayed at that school if she had stayed there.

The new school year shakes things up a 4th grade ct turned into my 5th grade teacher, I picked up teaching 6th grade so had a brand new ct, and I also picked up 3rd grade and had a new ct for 3rd and 4th. What I enjoyed was the fact I got to sit on the interview process to help pick the new teacher. Although I question how much my weight my opinion carried. I was lucky because it was a fairly easy decision and we picked Young Eun. A lovely lady a little older than me, but I think I'd enjoy teaching with her because our styles are similar.

My 6th grade teacher Mia is also brilliant. 6th graders are a bit of a nightmare and it seems no matter how much effort you put into a lesson, it's hard to predict what will be the end result. I've slaved on lessons that I thought would be awesome. Activities tat get them moving around and a really good mix of fun and learning.....aaaannnnnddddd it tanks. I've also had lessons planned at the last minute with a crappy PowerPoint game thrown in at the end and they go batshit crazy for it. Once again I'm baffled by Korea. Mia rocks it out though and she likes to get involved and really does most of the prep work for me. Lovely.

So I start this new school year a complete winner....But now Young Eun has gone on maternity leave and I get a new replacement ct. And everything shifts again. The new ct is nice but the rapport isn't there and teaching styles are different.

I just can't stress the importance of a good co-teacher. I have been fairly lucky and I do appreciate everything they help me with. I'd say I landed bam smack in the middle of the good/bad ct scale. I've heard way worse stories from friends. Most of them leave or have switched schools.

Anyway, I love working where I am because the kids are really cool and 9/10 times I finish the day with a few of them coming up to me, smiles on their faces and seeing what I'm up to. Trying to get some sweets or Andrew Money or just a high five. A good way to end the day.