Things have been crazy hectic at work lately. My director just bought a new hagwon and we have been going through the process of combining the new school's students into our current classes and making new classes.
I used to have this absurdly long prep time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Actually, out of my eight-hour work day, I was only teaching 80 minutes. That's the stuff dreams are made of.
No more. Dreams are dashed. Gone are the days of feeling prepared walking into a class. Now, I am lucky if I know what I am supposed to be teaching before I walk into the classroom. If I don't have to waste the first ten minutes of class looking for a book to copy, making enough copies for all of the students, and only then finding out I don't have the accompanying listening CD, well, then it's been a great day. Oh, and dinner! If I get to eat my dinner before seven, it's a blessing!
What happened to my life? Work has been not so enjoyable lately. All of the teachers, we are pinched for time and feeling stressed. We've all been pretty snippy at each other lately. And it doesn't seem like there will be any reprieve soon. We are losing The Canadian in a week! (Nothing serious, just decided to go home early). Her replacement won't be here until January, and really we need two or three in order to make the workload bearable.
These are the joys of working for a hagwon, a private business where the end goal is making money. That's a harsh criticism, but I am actually pretty lucky. Others I know have had it worse--losing students (i.e. profit) meant getting fired, a slow decline of going out of business where there monthly salary payments kept coming later and later and then not at all. It could definitely be worse.
Through it all, there has been a silver-lining--new students! I am enjoying my new students, even if they mean that I am strapped for time. A few, in particular, stand out to me.
I had been warned by the teacher at the former hagwon that one of my new classes were killer to keep on task and were total monsters. Well, I went and had an awesome class and was flying high on good teacher vibes. I was so pleased! After I taught them, the Sou'frican taught them a different subject. Five minutes into her teaching period, she barges in on my class shouting "Grapes?? Cake? Toad? Bread? Tiger?!?" Apparently the class had told her fake almost-real names. Grace became Grapes, Kate became Cake, Todd became Toad, Brad became Bread and Tiger, well, Tiger stayed Tiger.
Of course, nothing gold can stay. My schedule changes again right before Christmas. Since the Canadian is leaving, I have been asked to take on her schedule, with the addition of at least two new classes. This means I will be teaching a full block without any planning whatsoever as well as teaching and developing a rapport with 35 new students. I fear the coming months.