I feel better now that I’ve made my ultimatum

That’s one really long title, ‘I feel better now that I’ve made my ultimatum,’ but it’s true. I decided that I didn’t really care if it was culturally appropriate for me as a kyopo or not to make the ultimatum that if KYY stays at Singa Elementary School, than I will leave, that I won’t teach beyond this school term with her.

I foolishly thought that KYY would behave since I made such a big deal about her behavior towards me, but nope, if anything she’s become pettier and pettier as the days go by. Thank goodness that I only have 60 more days of her.

Since the last time that I wrote a blog about her, she’s been caught sitting in the back of the classroom, basically with her feet up, refusing to help me, looking out the window and randomly giving me nasty looks by the female Vice Principal. Which did actually lead to her being chewed out and supposedly her answers/excuses weren’t good enough because the VP because even more upset by them. She’s also, somehow become the “official” photographer for the school, but she doesn’t show up on time or take very good pictures, which has also upset the VPs.

Oh and yesterday, she made a point of embarrassing a 5th grade student because he doesn’t understand too much of what I say. So right as I was about to start class, she interrupts me and asks the students to raise their hands if they understand the majority of what I say, about a third of the class raises their hands, then how many understand less than 50%, which about a third of the students raise their hands, then how many understand less than 25%, a boy bravely raises his hand. She then hounds him to explain how little he understands, with every question he became redder and redder and by the end of the inquisition, his head is on the table and his arms are protectively around his head, while his table mates are glaring at him. I was so shocked that I had to ask what was that about as soon as she finished, her response: I need to know what they know. When I talked to her after class, she didn’t think anything of the embarrassment, defending her abusive questioning as necessity to make sure that the students who don’t understand too much English don’t become too bored in class and act up. Which I did then kinda go off on her, pointing out that there have been studies showing that when a L2 learner has been greatly embarrassed by a teacher, especially in their childhood, they’re least likely to even try to learn the language, much less be able to speak it at any level of fluency in public. That for the rest of his life, he will remember this moment and link with English, learning English, and people who speak English. And part of my job to make English fun for the kids, not to embarrass them or make them feel bad that they’re not the same level as others in their class or school.

At least twice a week, I have to take her aside and ask to her to be respectful towards me in front of the students, that calling me dumb, stupid, correcting my correct grammar, making comments about my teaching being bad, making comments about me not being the teacher, and telling the students not to listen to me, etc. are not appropriate or nice or professional. Oh and not to mention that she comes late to class, leaves early, and randomly leaves during class, which some of the students like to point out to me that she’s left class again.

However, she’s decided not only does she like living in Seoul (and not at her parents’ house in Ullsan) but she also likes being an English teacher at Singa. So she’s sucking up to everyone that she can think of to get them to agree to let her stay at least one more year.

As much as I would like to stay, the thought of working with her again, gives me a migraine and an unbelievable level of stress. I should not have to ask, on a minimum of a daily basis no less,  my co-teacher to be respectful of me particularly in front of the students.

She found out that I was going to refuse to work in the same school as her and she immediately ran to my supervisor’s room to tell her that I’m an excellent teacher with great rapport with the students, the only troubling thing is how much I hate her and how bad of a relationship that I’ve made with her (????).

(NOTE: When I told one of my co-teachers about some of the things that she said, especially the quote about she’s never had a problem with anyone in her entire life and that everyone in Singa Elementary School in fact not only likes her but is friends with her, except for me, she started to laugh so hard that she started snorting.)

After I talked to my supervisor and the department head about my situation and my feelings about Singa Elementary and working with KYY beyond the contracted 12 months, a whole lot of stress eased. It was an interesting conversation, because they told me some of the things that the other teachers and the VPs have told them about me (all positive), what they’ve noticed about the students and their reactions to me (all positive). In some senses, I got a clearer picture of some things here at Singa and in others it got a little muddier.

At the end of the last semester, the VP wasn’t thrilled with me because I made such a fuss about the situation between KYY and me, that I should have kept my mouth shut and taken it, and probably wouldn’t have been too sad to see me go, but since I moved into the office next door to the Main Office and she can she what I’m doing at any point in time, she sees how hard that I work and particularly how much work I put into every lesson. And the VPs are doing more walk-arounds, more mini observations, just checking classes and teachers in general and every time they come by my classroom, they see me being an active teacher, trying to encourage the students to not be afraid of English and they see the students being active and enjoying the lesson. So apparently the female VP has changed her opinions about me (and about KYY). The male VP took an informal poll about me with the homeroom teachers and had generally favorable comments, like: I always come early to the homerooms to start class; I always have extra materials, that I don’t rely on the government issued CD; when they happen to walk by or into the classroom while I’m teaching, the students are in their seats, using, not repeating, but using English; etc.

I’ve come to the conclusion, also, the reason that she likes teaching English is because inside the classrooms, she can just read from the teacher’s guide and in the afternoons, instead of doing any lesson planning, she just sleeps or reads a book. And if anyone ever questions her teaching or her lack of language skills, she has the excuse that she’s Korean and doesn’t know English that well and that the school wants her to teach English so how could she object to the VP, etc. Which is even more terrible because my other co-teachers spend their office hours surfing the Internet looking for more ideas to a better lesson plan to encourage the students or more teachers programs that they could qualify for to help them become better Korean English teachers. Right now, my 6th grade co-teacher is at a month long intensive English Teachers program  and this past summer, she went to the Philippines for an intensive general English program. My other co-teacher (3rd and 4th grade) also actively looks for opportunities to be a better English teacher. And KYY sleeps and sleeps and sometimes reads books.

I know that she’s basically hoping and counting on the fact that she’s Korean and I’m kyopo to help her extending her contract. She’s told other people, who will never come forward on my behalf, that yes, everything that I’ve accused her of is true, but she will never be in trouble because she’s Korean and I’m a kyopo. And she always has an excuse why she shouldn’t be in trouble, for example, she saw me on the street last semester and knew the street was to narrower for her to pass me safely but she did anyway because it wouldn’t have been a big deal for her to hit me. When she was pressed about the incident, first she said the street was narrow, then she said she was a bad driver, and when that wasn’t working and they questioned her about her speed, she said she was late for work and didn’t want to be in trouble. I even been standing next to her as she told another teacher lies about me, I was shaking my head at her, that she has no shame in lying about me right next to me.

I have never been so angry with anyone in my life, ever, and part of it is that she’s so self-absorbed that nothing she has done to me or to other people at Singa is wrong or even questionable and somehow it’s our fault that she did  what she did. I’m not big on physical violence, but I’ve had an unprecedented number of violent urges to knock her on her butt. I’m tired of being angry, hurt, sad, depressed, frustrated, irritated, because of one selfish, egotistical, self-absorbed, greedy, petty person who mostly likely is psychotic.

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