Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eat. Play. Teach. Blog entry #7: Darwin's guide to co-teaching by Georgina Selander

Darwin’s Guide to Co-teaching by Georgina Selander

“Have you found a Korean boy yet?” 

“Umm no,” I mutter.

“What about me?”

I laugh awkwardly.

“I’m serious!” he replies.

This isn’t the first time this particular co-teacher has taken to hitting on me. In fact, the colleague in question is such a repeat offender that the weekly drive to work gives me the sweats. Take last week, for example:

“Have you seen Scent of a Woman?”

“Umm, I can’t remember…”

“I prefer the scent of youth…”

Seriously? Get yourself some cheap Aviators and a ‘stache and you’re on your way to being a cradle-snatcher. Congratulations. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a bit of friendly banter. But hell, the man in question is twice my age, married with children and clearly oblivious to the fact that his comments make me uncomfortable.

I wonder what his daughter must think, sitting in the back. Fortunately – considering her response to “how are you?” is “yes” – I’m fairly certain that she doesn’t grasp the gist of the conversation.

But this isn’t the only co-teaching incident to have set my teeth on edge. In the past three months, I’ve experienced a variety of blog-worthy teaching personalities:

The backseater
This teacher spends the lesson sitting at the back of the classroom, occasionally adding her disinterested two cents. She’s usually ten minutes late for the lesson and always the first to leave. The upside? You have more control over the lesson and students direct their attention to you. Downside? You’d also like to play Candy Crush in class.

The translator
This teacher deems it necessary to translate every word you utter. What does this mean? No one gives two shats about what you’re saying. They’re just waiting for the translation.

The moralist
This one tends to make you feel inadequate; correcting and appraising you in front of your students (ironically a big no-no in Korean culture, where saving face is king). The upswing? Ask me next month.

The martial
This teacher applies the logic of an army formation to teaching, ruling his classdom with military precision. He takes pleasure in disciplining students in front of their peers – sending them to the back while you are teaching or threatening them with a blunt object. You’d like to remind them that corporal punishment is illegal in your home country – but then again, you’re a little scared yourself…

The facilitator
Ah, at last. This co-teacher senses your needs – calling for order when attention spans run low or translating difficult words where charades or Google Translate has failed. You’d like to borrow her coral lipstick or ask if her brother is available for dates. But let’s not tilt the apple cart…

Of these, I’ve experienced shades of each. And although each personality brings unique opportunities and setbacks, I find that the relationships – like a good bottle of red – tends to improve with age (unless you are that lewd creepster – in which case you’ll never progress beyond a ‘cooking wine’). 

But this is not to say that I’m a perfect teacher. Just today, my grade ones were so intolerably noisy that at one point I had to whip out the dreaded “JAAA!” (a fiery Korean equivalent of ‘HEY YOU!”). I then had to remind myself not to let my students see me lose my cool, and so switched up the textbook-based lesson for some animated storytelling. 

Strangely enough, my co-teacher failed to show up for this lesson – which goes a long way to show that the mere presence of a Korean elder can affect classroom management. 

Equally, I was scolded last week for allowing my students to watch music videos at the end of class – something I occasionally allow in the last 3-5 minutes as reward for good work. ‘Fair enough’ you may be thinking – this has no relevance in the classroom. But if you are familiar with Korean boy bands, you’ll also want to get your fangirl on.

Speaking of which, Big Bang just came on my iTunes playlist… excuse me while I dance in the mirror with my hairbrush. 

**Side note: all of this in written in jest. I applaud any teacher with the balls to take on 30 adolescents. 화이팅!

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