Thanks for the Motivation!

I’m having more issues with my school and this front-desk lady (whom is now “in charge of” the foreign staff and all teacher-related things–former boss now resides on the computer in the library).  I’m not being sarcastic or whatever–like really.

Anyway, a few things that have been grinding my gears:

1. I have a student in my second class that comes MWF and he’s the lowest in the class–low reading level/comprehension level/etc.  I went down to the library, where he goes on T/Th to “read/do homework/do book comprehension tests” and he had been wandering around for the 20 minutes that I was there with my previous class and was still wandering when I came down before my next class–his would-be class if he was registered.
Anyway, I asked him what he was going to do for his next two hours and he shrugged (as he usually does when asked questions).  I have seen him wandering on numerous occasions, not just this one, so I helped him pick out 3 books at his level and asked him to read them and do one comprehension worksheet (“book worksheet”) in the next two hours.
He said he didn’t have any paper or pencils today so I went up to my room, got some extras, came back down and got him sorted.  We agreed that that was what he would do.

Boss (who now resides in the library, as I mentioned) called me into one of the small classrooms in the library and told me not to give the boy extra work.  I explained that he was behind all the extra students and that he needed something to do during all the extra time he spends in the library.  Boss said his parents don’t pay us for you do to do extra prep work to help him.

Um.  I’ll wait.

I said that it wasn’t any trouble because there wasn’t really any prep work to do–I just picked out books with him (which he could technically do on his own, but I wanted to help him out this time around).  It was basically end of story, don’t help him.

I decided later to just give him and two other students in another class extra homework for the days that they aren’t in class.  Hopefully that will help him since I’m not allowed.

2. Ok, so I work 1:30-8:30 with a “10 minute break” between my 3 classes.  The first class starts at 2:30 and I’m expected to be in the room at 1:30.
I put quotes around the break-time because with stragglers from previous classes and trips to the bathroom, and when the next class comes directly into the room after you leave with the previous one, there is little “break time”.  Essentially under 5 minutes…if that.  I actually have a rule now (for my sanity) that the kids aren’t allowed to ask for extra homework papers, etc until classtime officially starts so I can get all my stuff done with minimal interruptions.
Oh, and add surprise new students to this “break time” and maybe you’re starting to get an idea.  I got 2 new students on Tuesday and 2 on Wednesday.  Some of which were just sitting in my room when I walked in–extra copies of classwork, getting folders and homework papers put together (I already have a stack printed).

Anyway, the thought of eating might not have crossed your mind, but shockingly, teachers do get hungry as well.  We (on all days prior to yesterday) were able to bring in a small snack or something to scarf down between classes or even get something from the convenience store downstairs.
Yesterday, I bought a small cup of ramen/instant noodles before my last class to tide me over til I ate a real meal after work.  I brought it in and put it on my desk (2 minutes til class started–dismissed the second class and essentially ran down to the shop to get it).  As soon as I walked in (I have brought in food countless times before, and many times I even bring in homemade stuff for my classes, or order pizza)–
ANYWAY, as soon as I walked in they were all like “ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” and running out into the hall and around the room acting as though they hadn’t eaten for days and begging for some.
First, WTF.
Second, how rude.
Anyway, I called them out on their behavior and FDL (front desk lady, in case you’ve forgotten) came in and said that I shouldn’t eat that food in the room because of the smell.
First, this has never been an issue before that moment.
Second, I hadn’t eaten since about 11am.
Third, these are the same people that eat seaweed snacks (smells like the devil) in the classroom.

Anyway, it’s not like I walk around the room with my cup of ramen.  I eat a bite here and there when they’re doing group-work or taking reading tests, which the first 20 minutes or so of class.  Which is why it hasn’t been an issue.
She said to go into the office and eat it–she closed the door and started speaking Korean to the class–which Korean is not allowed in the classrooms.  I decided that it wasn’t worth it and went back in the room.  I said that we had a schedule to follow and that I would just eat later.  (Speaking Korean to my highest level class isn’t on the plan for today as well).
She went out and I had a chat with my students about why I was upset.  I said their behavior was rude and asked how many of them had eaten dinner before they came (all of them) and many of them apologized and they understood what I was talking about.  I broke it down very simply just to be sure and they all understood.
We carried on and it was as if it hadn’t happened.

As I was getting ready to leave, FDL came into my room and said she needed to talk with me.  She asked if I had time right then (I didn’t) and asked if we could talk tomorrow (now today) about what happened.
She said she didn’t want me to call the children ‘rude’ because they might be upset and not understand.
I told her that we had a big talk about it and that they did understand.
She seemed surprised and said “Oh, really??”

Anyway, we’re apparently supposed to talk about it today.  She has a habit of talking over people–usually at “staff meetings”.  There was another teacher who had an idea for a problem we were talking about at the last one and she literally spoke louder to speak over him.

I still stand by what I told the kids and I think it’s definitely within my right to call them rude if they’re being rude.  If I do not have a breaktime (and I think it’s bad form on my part to be eating away in the office while class is in session) and I work from 1-9 essentially…
They’ve learned a lot of life lessons in our class and I think learning not to beg others for food is a good one.
I also think that having all three of my classes at capacity with high parent approval shows something.

Anyway, TGIF.

Other lessons featured in my classes: (This is for my own personal enjoyment)
*Please/Thank You are required
*Pushing in your chair when you leave your desk/table
*Helping others: General Knowledge
*Helping others-Part 2: When someone drops their pencilcase/folder on the floor and everything flies everywhere onto the floor (AKA: Don’t sit there like a dummy and watch–come help!)–Note: I don’t use the word dummy or any equivalent.
*No pushing/wait your turn/Hands to yourself
*Clean up after yourself
*Hold the door for the person behind you
*Don’t laugh when someone else makes a mistake (especially a reading mistake/has trouble with reading…or you will receive my wrath.  JokingButNotJoking)
*Raise your hand to speak/don’t shout at me
*Ask questions.  Lots of questions.  Be curious.  Especially if you don’t understand or need help.  (This is HUGE here.  It’s considered essentially lowering yourself/”lose face”, but bosses are known to either make up something or lie rather than say they don’t know.  If my kids leave me learning one skill, I want it to be this one.  Don’t be afraid to admit fault and be curious.)

One More Thing

I had a nice talk/vent with my aunt on the phone last night and was able to get a lot of my frustrations out…and as I told her, it feels a bit like I have a weight on my shoulders that I can’t seem to shake off.  
Another thing that’s on my mind is stuff with work.
Culture Differences + Gossipy/Bitchy Co-Workers + Minimal Vacation + Incompetence = No Fun.

I like my classes well enough, it’s just the work environment itself.
We got a new owner back in January and it’s had its ups and downs, but as long as I get paid on time and the school doesn’t get shut down, then I’m a pretty easy-going person, I’d like to think.
However, the Korean teachers (minus 1 of them who seems pretty mellow) and now the other 3 foreign teachers (1 not as much) talk SO MUCH SMACK on this guy.
I mean, no one is perfect, and he certainly isn’t, but I think he’s trying.
It’s just so wearing.  The negativity.  
Like, as soon as he leaves the room, they start in on him.  One Korean girl and 2 foreigners in particular.

It’s just crazy.  And half the time, I’m wondering if they’re hearing the words that are coming out of their mouths.  
I’ve pretty much stopped talking and zone out or leave the room during it because it just makes me so angry.  The Korean girl seems to really like drama and gossip anyway because she initiates most of it, but the foreigners are pretty good people.  
I wonder how much of this is brought on because we work so much and just…stress-overload/exhaustion.

Either way, it’s just so tiring…day in and day out.
And especially now that the owner has been coming in more often.

I’ve stuck up for him a few times, but they give me crazy looks and just brush my comments away.  So, I’ve just resorted to keeping out of it.

So much drama.  😦

And Finally…

Le Sigh…

I need to sort of vent or think out loud (except on a blog…which is somehow less weird than talking to myself, lol)

So, I was originally supposed to be going home at the end of my contract for 3 weeks (because I asked and they were gracious enough to grant me that request.  To see my family after not seeing them for a year.  Anyway, I digress.  
That was surprisingly moved up (yay!) and I’m now supposed to go home at the beginning of February instead of the end, so I’m back in time for the new semester.
Ok…sounds good.

However, I’m now about 3 weeks away from my departure time and I still don’t have a signed contract for the upcoming year. Which means that I don’t have a plane ticket yet because I’m not booking anything until I’m sure that I will still be with them.
I’ve asked at least 3-4 times now to see this new contract (and so I can book my flights before prices reach the point of being outrageous), but there’s always something that comes up.  “Oh yeah!  We’ll do that later!” or
“Oh, it’s not ready yet, but we can do it on Friday this week!”…then Friday comes and “Oh!  We are completely out of time…we can do it Monday.”  “Ok, so…Monday then?”  “Yeah yeah, Monday.”  *enter Monday*  “When can we discuss my contract?” “Oh, when the director comes”….director doesn’t come or I’m working a 5 class in a row stretch and have only 5 minutes between classes….ie: barely time for a bathroom break, much less time to discuss contracts.

Just getting very annoyed and frustrated.
I’m also a bit irked because it’s in my contract that I should have a paid flight home….but I’m getting $500 (going to get it in Won because the Won is stronger right now, heh) toward that flight.  They said it’s because I’m taking a break between contracts.
Which…granted, I don’t know many people able to take a break between contracts…much less having their school help them with the flight…but…I would THINK that it only makes SENSE (which is nonexistent here) that I would have it paid for.  BECAUSE…it’s supposed to be paid for when I go home (the main point), and then they’d have to pay for someone else to come over anyway.
The director says he wants to recruit people from within the country rather than using recruiters to pull people in from abroad anyway (to save money)….makes sense, but not sure how truthful that is.
He also says since he’s worked in this business for 7+ years (which he has), that he knows “a lot” of foreigners in Korea that would be interested in the job.
Pretty sure THAT’s a stretch because most foreigners that are here are already employed, or they wouldn’t be here very long without some sort of employment due to visa requirements and that sort of thing.

Anyway, I don’t really know what to think.
I don’t REALLY want to leave the school because I like the structure I have with the classes but then there’s also the flexibility there too.  I also really like my students and I LOVE my apartment and the location that I’m in.  I also have a sort of base built here.  I have friends here and finally feel comfortable with where I am.  I have language exchanges and favorite places and that tango class..and just…to start all over again is just…ugh.
I feel like I could get over their ridiculous antics were they were to stop giving me the runaround on this flight and contract business.  SERIOUSLY…about 3 weeks to go.  

Not sure what I’m supposed to do.  I was talking to my grandma, and she said (and I agreed) that it’s probably a power thing.  They’re pushing it off to the last minute so I have no choice but to agree to the terms of the contract.  
A bit shitty (excuse my French) if you ask me, and not a great way to start off a new year with an employee (and one that you (and the students and parents) like), by pushing them into a corner so that they’re forced (or made to feel that way) to agree.

But again..that’s logic speaking.

So, I started actually looking at other jobs tonight.  I still don’t really WANT to leave (reasons above), but I’m trying to keep my options open.  I don’t want to end up feeling like I have no choice in what I do next year.  
I started looking at positions in Seoul (bigger city, lots of options for jobs)–not really a fan of how crowded and congested (and polluted…) it is up there, but here are some of the positives I thought of.

*definite paid for flights–because it’s in the first contract, and the new school usually (99.9% of the time) pays for your RT flights to and from your country.
*I’d get to stay and see the kindergarten graduation (because I’d likely be leaving at my original date)
*More opportunities for foreigners (because the city is bigger)–According to Google, as of 2010, Seoul had 10 million people
*Closer to Incheon airport (less travel time when departing the country, lol)

I dunno, just an option.  Trying not to limit myself, or to let myself feel limited just because they want me to feel that way.  
I have to keep in mind (and it’s true, thankfully for me) that as a female from the Midwest (no/plain accent) of the US that already has a year of experience under her belt…I can get damn near any job I want.
They should be the ones that are nervous and anxious about the future, not me.
And maybe they are…and that could be why they’re doing this.

And to that I say, karma is a bitch,  
How inconsiderate.  

Anyway, it’s late, so goodnight!