The Trouble with Co-Teaching

I like my coteacher, but the co system at my hagwon is deeply flawed. The Korean teacher is often help responsible for the actions of the foreign teacher’s actions. However, the foreign teacher is often left out of communication with parents and administrative staff, so they are not aware that there is a problem until it has escalated.
Today, without me knowing anything was happening, two of my class mothers came to see our director for a lengthy discussion that involved watching cctv footage from my class as well as from playtime. My coteacher was in the room with them, but I didn’t even know there was going to be a meeting.
Imagine my panic when another foreign teacher says, “Hey, why are they watching the cctv from your class in the office?” I didn’t know which parents were there or what the issue was. Even as a teacher who is generally adored by my students and has seen their test scores have measured improvement, I was extremely worried. Especially because some of my parents are extremely nit picking.
I was later told that they were investigating an accusation two students made that the problem student in my class had been hitting them at playtime. The teacher who told me this was not my coteacher. It information from another Korean teacher. The whole problem is that she knew more about my class than I did.
Later when I mentioned this to our education director who was a part of this meeting, she brushed me off.
“It was nothing about you. The mothers aren’t complaining about you, ” she told me.
“But they’re my class. I just spent the entire day worrying. I didn’t know if it was about me or not. I didn’t know anything,” I told her.
“Everything is being taken care of, so you don’t have to worry. ”
I constantly feel talked around when it comes to my students, as if information is constantly being withheld or even hidden from me. When the director, my ,and I meet about something, they constantly break off and discuss things with each other in Korean. They know my Korean is basic. I politely try to remind them that I am still there by picking out things that I understand from their conversation and bringing it up in English. “Oh, you’re talking about the homework, well…”
It is as if my coteacher is the primary instructor. I spend 90% of the day with those kids. She spends maybe 15-20% of hers with them. She is the co for more than one class. She spends most of her day fending off phone calls from parents and filling out paperwork. She makes schedules and book orders, for which I am deeply grateful. But I am the homeroom teacher. I should not be left out of any conversation about them.
I have less than two months left in my contract. It’s issues like this that led me to decline extending my contract. If I were staying with this school longer, I would probably fight harder about this too. At this point, it’s not really worth the fight, but I will mention it to our head teacher, because in spite of the fact that I don’t love kindergarten, I do care about these kids.

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3 thoughts on “The Trouble with Co-Teaching

  1. I know what you mean. My school does the same, but only because they treat the foreign staff like we are all prized porcelain and that any little negative thing will hurt our feelings or make us want to leave.
    Thankfully, I’ve managed to work with my co-teachers after having serious conversations with them, so they let me know more often when a parent is upset and why. Maybe a serious conversation with your co would do the same? Either here or some other place? Something like, “It really hurts me when I don’t know what is going on with the mothers in our class. I care a lot about these children and I want to help make your job easier as well. We are in this together, so I’ll keep you up-to-date with anything that goes on in class. Would you be able to let me know in the future if any mothers have a problem? We can work to fix it or keep an eye on things together!” Or…something like that.

  2. Well, with only one month left att his school, I have decided it’s not worth it. My bringing it up was completely brushed off. If I were staying for another year, if would be worth fighting for. I did bring it up to the head teacher though.

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