I’m pretty much set on not renewing my contract next year. And here’s why:
1. I’m not appreciated at my school. I work harder than any other teacher here. I’m pretty sure i’m the only one who brings work home everyday and never gets enough sleep. I spend countless hours planning and editing lessons to continually challenge my students while taking into account their varied abilities and interests. More importantly, i teach because it’s always been my dream to teach. I love what i do, and i’m grateful that i was given this opportunity. Teaching is emotional for me. Whatever happens at school can make or break my day; so much of my emotional well-being depends on how i do at my job. And when you are this dedicated to your work but no one recognizes it, it just hurts. My coworkers have no regard for my schedule and workload. They keep piling on more work for me (unrelated to my classes) because they know how hard-working i am and that i wouldn’t refuse.
2. This job is becoming meaningless for me. I realized last night that i’m a trainer, not a teacher. How do people teach EFL? I hate not being able to talk about open-ended, thought-provoking topics with my students. I hate that it’s a struggle just to get them to understand me. I hate that i can’t communicate with them on an intellectual level. I hate that they can’t express to me everything that they want. It hurts to see them give up (i know how it feels). I hate that they feel dumb because they can’t communicate with me, and i hate that i can’t help them improve. Why are they not improving? I want to teach them about the world, other people, other ways of thinking, other possibilities, but my role is to train them in a foreign language, which considerably limits how much you can do with any given topic. I’m obviously failing at improving their English, so i feel like all i do is train them in responsibility. And that’s exactly what i resolved to never do as a teacher. I learned in my Youth Media class that schools are designed to produce working citizens, and that this can have a hazardous effect on a child’s personal growth. I’m at a loss as to what to do. I think i’ve reached this point because it’s all i can do, but i should stop. But then how else would i grade? I don’t like to take too many points away for bad English, because if their English is bad, that’s my fault. When they don’t follow instructions, however, i penalize them, but i’m starting to think i shouldn’t. All i’m doing is training them to not make mistakes in the future and to follow instructions whether they like them or not, and that’s not healthy. It might help them in the workplace, but it’s not healthy for their creative development.
3. I miss America. I don’t like Koreans’ working style. I like rules and i like to follow them to a T, but no one does that here. I don’t like that they don’t take deadlines and schedules seriously. I don’t like how they don’t respect other people’s privacy. Basically, all the things i expected to have difficulty with, i am and can’t accept on moral grounds. Plus, there’s no future for me here. It’d be impossible for me to survive in a communal, Confucian society.
I wanna do things differently next semester. I’m starting to introduce philosophical topics in my lessons, and i’m going to find a way to make these lessons work if it’s the last thing i do. Eventually, i’d like to teach straight-up philosophy in very simple but engaging terms. I don’t know how i should change my rules and grading system, but i’ll figure it out over break. I kind of wish i wasn’t in charge of the grading now.
Next semester, i’m going to be a real teacher, and if anyone at this school has a problem with that, i’m quitting.