I think my frustration really stems from unclear expectations as far as what my coteachers expect in the classroom. I know the role for them: I like them to help with discipline, keep students on task, and help the students with any necessary translations. What they expect of me, however, is often vague.
At my first placement in Korea, I was a supplemental teacher in the regular English classroom. So when I first arrived, they told me to prepare material to go with the textbook: I would teach for half the period with their support and I would help them for the other half. I didn’t have a problem with this but it was a little difficult because the four teachers taught at different speeds and were at different points in the textbook.
A month or two into teaching this way, they called an English meeting and bombarded me with their opinion that I should teach the entire class and prepare my own materials. The only advice they gave me was that I was to create “activities” but they failed to define “activity”. I left the meeting with my eyes burning with tears of frustration. As the year went on with just my materials, students stopped paying attention and half of my coteachers stopped helping me. It’s one of the many reasons I wanted to move to another school.
My second placement was at a much bigger high school in a city. Unfortunately, the students’ English ability is only marginally better than my previous…which means that I still need a lot of support in the classroom.
For the first semester I worked with four female coworkers. I wasn’t really told what to prepare but they said I could teach anything. I tried to make it at least semi interesting for the students but many of them remained bored and/or refused to participate. Most of my coteachers did a stellar job at trying to keep the students in control and aiding student participation in my lesson.
This new year (it started about three weeks ago), I am working with only one of the four teachers from the previous semester and three ‘new’ teachers. I teach two grades (equivalent of high school sophomores and juniors) and this semester the first year teachers told me that I would be responsible for certain sections of their textbook. The second year teachers told me nothing so I assumed it was the same as last year: make my own materials.
This semester has been going fairly well. The coteachers are learning their roles but they at least try to assist. However, one of my coteachers has been coming to class late, not helping, and leaving the classroom during the lesson. Actually, I think my coteachers don’t really understand what it means to help students, but this teacher is beyond frustrating.
On top of that, TODAY (3 weeks into the school year) I learned that I should be teaching with a text book for both classes. I also just received that textbook today. I was also just informed that starting today I would have to teach two extra hours with an English class after school. By the way, my extra class last semester I had 7 students…this semester I have 23!!!
At lunch time I felt reprimanded when one of my first year coteachers gave me a string of “you had better…” statements. Basically they were telling me to make my own stuff and teach my own things…which came as a surprise both to me and the other first year coteacher when I later relayed it to them. So…yeah, a lot of confusion and frustration on my end. For now, I will stick to teaching the textbook to ALL my classes until the head English teacher tells me otherwise…
UPDATE: I just found out that the MIA coteacher who avoids talking to me IS THE HEAD ENGLISH TEACHER. SERIOUSLY!!??
UPDATE 2: I have to teach alternate each week between the book and another ambiguous “activity.” Oh joy