Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bad Days Are Bad

Today was one of those rough days at work.

For the last couple months, ever since she bought two new hagwons and merged them with hers, she's been out of our hair. This has been positive for everyone involved. Her being happy = us being happy = the students being happy. It's a win-win-win.

But inevitably, the students from the acquired hagwons start dropping out and my boss starts losing money and she starts getting pissy. Nope, not at her own poor business and interpersonal skills. But she assumes it must be the teachers. It must be us driving these students away, not the vastly different curriculum, testing, and homework at our hagwon compared to their old schools or her own inability to adapt to the parents' expectations. So it is easy to tell when my boss is losing money because of how involved in our daily classes she becomes. And from how "involved" my boss has become as of late, she must be bleeding cash like a stuck pig.

This wouldn't be a problem if she offered helpful teaching tools or extra training. Her brand of involvement largely relies upon shouting interchangeably in Korean and English, publicly embarrassing students, and criticizing our teaching skills in front of our classes. Needless to say, it's not exactly a positive work environment.

Today was presentation day. This means that the paragraph my students have been memorizing all month is performed in front of a camera to be uploaded to the website for their parents to see later. Normally, they do this performance in front of me and another, gentler Korean teacher. Today, they performed for me, the gentle Korean teacher, my boss and her mini-me. Luckily, I've been drilling my students all month on their presentation so they were near perfect, even despite their nerves. Regardless, they still made two of them re-do their performances.

But for the other class that is a level below mine that followed us--urgh. They were shamed for not being smart enough, for not being as good as my class. And then after lunch, both classes were made to practice over and over and over. She pulled individuals up to the front and embarrassed them. Poor Raye didn't know if she should laugh or cry and I kept having to wordlessly coach her from the back of the room. When she was told she could sit down, she came and hugged my leg.

It was heartbreaking to see these kids who were so proud of themselves a few hours earlier torn to shreds and looking so unsure. Aren't we supposed to be building these kids up, telling them they can do these things, maybe so they will WANT to do them? Shouldn't we be making it impossible for them to fail so they have the confidence to succeed? I suppose I understand the need for "perfection" later on, but they are five. Like, can't we try not to damage them so young, creating a nearly irreversible aversion to learning English?

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