Being observed is par for the course if you’re teaching…regardless of the corner of the world that you’re residing in and, also regardless, if you’re working at a public, private, government, not-for-profit, etc.
I’ve been observed, although a bit quickly and without any warning, countless number of times while I’ve been here teaching at Singa Elementary School.
(NOTE: For those who haven’t been inside a Korean public school, there are two (generally) sliding doors, one in the front (the teacher’s door) and one in the back (the students’ door) and a bunch of windows in between. If there is glass in the door and all the windows but the last one is somehow blocked, usually with student’s work, or some privacy film cut to the size of the glass. )
Without warning, the backdoor will open and either the principal or one of the vice principals will step inside for a maximum of ten minutes and then they will leave. Later someone will find me to tell me that I did a wonderful job, etc.
Tuesday was a bit different, someone from the 송파구청 (the usual translation is Song-pa district office, but think it more like an ISD inside of an ISD) called my school wanting to observe one of my co-taught classes. There’s no way out of it, I mean my boss’ boss’ office wants to watch me teach, it’s not like I can say ‘no, sorry, no can do.’ So I offer my 3rd grade classes, because my 3rd grade co-teacher Kwon Ji-hye is awesome and I think that my 5th grade co-teacher KYY is not the best example of anything too positive to be nice about it. Unfortunately for me, they wanted to do it this week, so the only possibility was to observe a 5th grade class.
I made nice I notified KYY beforehand, not two seconds like she does to me. She said yes, because she had even less ability to say no. Later on Tuesday, she’s in the vps’ office complaining and preening at the same time that the 송파구청 wants to observe her teach, especially since she’ s not from Seoul and here on some special exchange program, etc., but how could she possibly put together a quality lesson in a day’s time, etc. I happened to be talking to my supervisor about the very same topic in the VPs’ office when we overheard her. So my supervisor set her straight about what was planned for Thursday (today), which was that the 송파구청 wanted to take pictures of the NSET (me) teach and interact with the students at Singa Elementary and observe how they were with a Western approach to teaching English. It’s terrible of me, I do realize and acknowledge it, but I was laughing on the inside at the sight of how much her face fell when she found out that she wasn’t the star attraction.
So Wednesday, she was late as usual to class, comes in turns off the clip I was showing the students, puts on another one, and tells me that my English is terrible and she doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the 송파구청 because of my bad English (????). I told her to go away because it’s class time and this is not the time to talk about this.
Move forward to today, they set up the entire back of the room with chairs, which made me nervous that that many people were going to be in the room. And only one young female, who looked like she was still in high school came for five minutes. Which of course I didn’t realize so, I was just talking to the class (who had never seen me before this class) while she was observing and taking pictures. So I definitely was on top of everything…go me! 😀 right? And of course KYY ran outside to kiss the girl’s butt the minute she could and take the credit for my work. And that is why we’re such awesome friends, too.