Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Meet the [Korean] Parents

Remember that funny movie a few years ago? Meet the Parents? And then the follow up Meet the Fockers that in my opinion was a better movie than the original? Those were good movies, weren't they?

Well this post's subject matter isn't as entertaining as those movies were, and it doesn't involve meeting a significant other's parents - it's worse. I had to meet with the parents of one of my classes on Thursday afternoon and it was nothing short of nerve wracking.

I have a class - Frog SR-3 (I'll explain the levels in another post)- every Tuesday/Thursday from 3:20-4pm. It consists of 6 kids - Sally, Dabin, Elmo, Jennifer, Alice, Will, Harry. They're good kids overall, but they're also a handful. I think they're all about 8 or 9 (about 7 or 8 normal age) and have been coming to SLP for quite some time now. They speak pretty fluenty, but definitely need some help in the grammar areas and their writing isn't where it should be really. Our focus for this class is public speaking, and story reading. Dabin's the trouble maker... this round little kid who's got the sweetest face, but has the worst case of ADD I've ever seen. The kid cannot sit still and disrupts everyone else.

Anyway, everyone's parents show up except for Dabin's. I'm in the classroom next to my head teacher, and in front of all these moms... and to be honest, this school isn't cheap, so these are some pretty rich, well put together, gorgeous Korean women, and they all care about their children's education very intently. The entire 40 minutes is in Korean. They ask a question (in Korean) and Sally (my boss) translates and vice versa. I'm terrified to say something negative, because as this isn't a school that prioritizes education over the business revenue it gets from these kids, I want to make sure what I say will benefit the kid as well as not anger the mom and make them take their child to another Hagwon (Korean private school).

Now I've been here for two months officially, and I've picked up a fair amount of Korean. Can I make sentences? absolutely not. But I know some words, and I heard them ask where I was from, and it sounded like they were starting to criticize me - "ah stupid new yorker, how does she know how to teach kids??" Afterall, this class is easily one of my least favorite, and I don't find it very fun so how could the kids? Turns out it was quite the opposite. The parents loved me. They said my class was very fun and the kids were learning a lot and to keep it up.

Since I'm working on a staff where they will fire a teacher at random and for no apparent reason, getting a good review like that from parents is a way to stay useful and keep your job for another day. Beyond stressful though, that's for sure.

Now, next month we have open classes where the parents come in and watch us teach their pre-school kids for an hour. Man I can't wait... I think I'd rather cut off an appendage than go through this, and I have to go through it twice! yay!

1 comment:

english said...

My hagwon is across the street from another SLP. Since SLP has instituted the "open-class" policy for parents/consumers, the trend is speading as we start open-classes next month too. Hagwons are difficult places of employment, if there was a solution to this dilemma, I'll let you know! In general, agree with everything, even if it doesn't make sense or comes at the last minute, use Nike's famous slogan!. If it increases job security, so don't ask or question, criticism is the envelope in every pocket! ^^++