I’ve been in Korea for 8 months now. 8 months?? Really? Hmm.

I really enjoy my job. I think that middle school is a strange and exciting time to be teaching. But at the same time, I think that foreigners generally look at this type of job the wrong way.

Let me break down my school a little bit: We have 8 or 9 classes in each grade, each with about 36 students, give or take. ½ to 2/3rd of our students are on governmental assistance, and about two students in every class are from SE Asian/non Korean families, a huge amount for a homogenous country. Three students in every class have a difference of ability or (ha) are known to be disruptive. Each classroom has an elderly PC that may or may not work, with internet that may or may not work, with PowerPoint that may take more than 5min to boot up. My school serves pretty solid lunches; our students learn Chinese, English and Korean, and we serve almost exclusively a local community (since I live near the school, my weekends are often full of “Hi teachaaa!!” cat calls from my girls.)

Why do people come to Korea to teach? For the money, for the experience, for the opportunity to travel – and these aren’t bad reasons exactly. But this isn’t an easy gig. The kids here have needs that need to be met, and the government (and the entire English system) is willing to let a ton of relatively inexperienced teachers give it a shot for a year or two or whatnot.

I was reading some articles critiquing Teach for America, and I could draw an easy parallel between TfA and what I see a daily. Under resourced and over worked, perhaps schools across the world tell the same tired narrative. In both cases the callow and pretty are encountering the realities of educational systems that are challenging situations to begin with.

I think I’m an okay teacher. My classroom discipline needs work, and so does my direction giving. Nowhere near perfect. I’m here to make money, have fun, travel, gain experience… and to teach my kids. Yeah. Coulda just boiled it down to that.


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