Saturday, August 26, 2006

Teaching Kindergarten in Korea

Teaching Kindy in Korea is a bit of a unique experience, I expect, so I will try my best to describe it. Like most businesses that I have encountered in Korea the Kindy business does not impress me. The Korean woman who teaches at my kindy works there Monday, Wednesday and Friday, teaching from 10am to 12 -- without a break!

Then she has one hour and 20 minutes for lunch followed by a 20 minute class, then a 20 minute break and then a 1 hour class. She works exactly three hours and 20 minutes and she gets paid for exactly three hours and 20 minutes!

My schedule has been:

9:40am to 12, 7 classes of kindy 20 minutes a class with no break.

I have taken the time I needed in the past. Moving from class to class I would stop in the hallway and sit down for a minute or grab a drink of water but I have put up with this difficult schedule with no complaint.

But now I am putting my foot down. I jotted down my new schedule and showed it to the kindergarten teacher who translates between me and the principal of the school:

1st class 9:40 to 9:55
2nd class 9:55 to 10:10
break 10:10 to 10:20
3rd class 10:20 to 10:35
4th class 10:35 to 10:50
break 10:50 to 11
5th class 11 to 11:15
6th class 11:15 to 11:30
break 11:30 to 11:40
7th class 11:40 to 12

I'm sure the schedule will look a little bit different at some later date but negotiation is key in business here so I wanted to make a point to the principal that breaks are important.

Two hours and 20 minutes is far too long a period of time to go without a break when you are teaching intense 20 minute classes of kindy with 25 to 30 students in each class!

Just got a message from the translator that, all of a sudden, the principal wants to change the schedule! Sounds like she hopes to avoid paying me for any down time by chopping up my morning.

The new schedule:
11-12, 3 kindy classes
12-1, lunch break
1-2:20 4 kindy classes

My reply? "Ha! Nope, sorry! I'm busy in the afternoon. You have to put all of my classes in the morning".

I suppose that the principal is having trouble swallowing the idea of paying me for a break when she does not pay her Korean teachers for their breaks, but there you have it, I do not need to teach her kindy kids. Foreign teachers are very hard to find over here and so I am in a good bargaining position. Thank god for that!

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