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Got fired from a Hagwon... the lowest point of my life?
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Jingo besus



Joined: 12 Sep 2011
Location: The Clipperton Suite

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Floating World wrote:
The day I leave this country I'm getting a phoenix tattoo and I'm going to wake myself the f up.


if i were you i'd consider waking yourself the f up BEFORE you get a pheonix tattoo....just saying... Wink
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wishfullthinkng



Joined: 05 Mar 2010

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Got fired from a Hagwon... the lowest point of my life? Reply with quote

you asked for thoughts so i shall give you mine. i think your outlook on life and in this particular situation might be the issue.


myenglishisno wrote:
I also worked harder than most of the foreign staff in some ways (this was well known) so I could have good classes.

saying statements like this is akin to an wise man going into a room of fools and announcing he is smarter. when this happens he becomes no wiser than the fools in the room.


myenglishisno wrote:
Then there are foreign teachers that could get away with murder in their classrooms because they please their co-teachers in just the right way and because they play lots of games. No one complains about them yet they definitely don't fit into our boss's definition of a good teacher (though they keep the kids happy).

ironically enough, there is someone who complains about them. you.
the world is not perfect nor will it ever be. i know you've heard it before but have you ever really put a lot of thought into it?
one of the best parts about life is when (if ever) people realize that other people are easily manipulated. adapting to a situation and finding out what a person wants or needs and doing or becoming that for them is an important ability. and don't misunderstand when i say manipulation. most people see it as a negative thing but it doesn't have to be. if you are doing it in malicious intent then sure it is, but people (some rather quite easily) can manipulate a situation and people to a desired outcome without trying to be evil. the sooner you realize this, the sunnier you might find your life will become.


myenglishisno wrote:

Anyway, despite this, upon being fired I've been feeling really down. I say a lot of things to myself (like what I said above) to comfort myself, especially since I haven't got a straightforward answer as to why I was fired. I was just told that my teaching isn't good and my classes were too boring but that was just speculation. I was never told by the teachers who complained or by who they complained to, even when I asked them to tell me.

looking for closure in broken english won't make you feel better. getting back on the horse and changing your outlook will though.


myenglishisno wrote:
On the other hand, I see other foreign teachers playing games that aren't even related to the textbook, showing movies, coming into work late and lots of other stuff and they're praised / promoted (and subsequently look down on me).

stop comparing yourself to others. if this bothers you then join their ranks. once you get over comparing yourself to them in an attempt to be "better" than them then you will feel a large burden off your chest.

myenglishisno wrote:
I don't know what to think. I'm either a horrible teacher which is what they seem to imply or something else is going on.

i don't know how good of a teacher you are, but methinks something else is going on in your mind that has nothing to do with your english teaching ability.
my 2 cents.
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
one of the best parts about life is when (if ever) people realize that other people are easily manipulated. adapting to a situation and finding out what a person wants or needs and doing or becoming that for them is an important ability


I think this is good advice and is even moreso when one applies it to the hakwan situation.

I think essentially what your other foriegn co-workers were doing is realising how to act in front of each person (kids, parents, Korean co-teachers.)

Instead of my usual 'going through the motions' stance in my new job I have been thinking about applying this myself.

Like, in front of my boss and co-teachers say what they want to hear and give the impression of being a team player and then in the classroom, when I can't invitably deliver the perfect lesson and get the kids 100% fully on board and behaving as well as I'd expect, try and divert from the plan as much as possible to cater somewhat to what the kids are wanting from me, which sometimes may be slacking off and playing / 'freeetalking' or dumbing the lesson down a bit, helping them more with answers etc. Then they are happy and when I leave the classroom and am in a meeting etc, play the corporate game.

I think when we work back home we don't need to be consious of this so much as we understand inately the cultural cues and expectations and we are sheperded a lot more by our superiors (in England at least and in non competative coroporate industries, I know the states is a lot of a tougher place to work, but in England a lot more resources are put into guiding and training and mentoring new employees.)

But yeah, in Korea there isn't really a catch-all way to act and one really does more than back home have to try to adapt to each individual workplace, manager, co-teacher and set of students and might have to be play a slightly different act to each of them. It is a hard act to live up to with all the mixed and often conflicting expectations here (be a good educator as well as being jemisoyo and taking care of the boss' bottom financial line) - but I can see that if one pulled it off well and was pleasing everyone without too much compromise to their own standards - it could be quite an uplifting and rewarding experience just to know that you had found a way to 'play the game' essentially and rise above the challange.

If one could carry that off successfuly it would definately be a good skillset to help them when they went 'back home.'

Food for thought I guess. Like I said, my country has quite a good mix between capitalism and state / corporate socialism (of a sort) in that employees are very well looked after and 'parented' almost and I do find that a lot of other brits I meet in Korea, males especially carry this idea of 'how things should be done properly' with them. But the same idea doesn't exist here, it is very corporate and competative here (the hakwan industry) and realistically, if one is going to enter into that (or any) relationship, they have to accept the way it is and find the best way to adapt to it or constantly become frustrated and burn out. A hakwan is, at the end of the day a business and that is the most important view to take with you when you enter one if you're to be successful. It would be easier if recruiters and employers just cut the bull and admitted this straight out to new hires, instead of all the bs about being a proffessional teacher lol.

I stil do not believe the Korean model is the best way of going about things (let's face it, for all the hours and money put into esl here, the results do not correspond) but we are in Korea so have to learn how to play it their way or not play at all, essentially.


Last edited by The Floating World on Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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young_clinton



Joined: 09 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Got fired from a Hagwon... the lowest point of my life? Reply with quote

myenglishisno wrote:

I'm nearing the end of a rather short stint at a hagwon.


Short stint..........good don't list the hagwon as a former employer. Now try getting hired by a public school that won't mess around with you like a hagwon.

If by chance your teaching does need to be improved you might try taking a TEFL or CELTA course. I don't know, but a TEFL course is much more likely to make a person a better ESL teacher than a college degree.
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myenglishisno



Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Location: Geumchon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Got fired from a Hagwon... the lowest point of my life? Reply with quote

wishfullthinkng wrote:

myenglishisno wrote:
I also worked harder than most of the foreign staff in some ways (this was well known) so I could have good classes.

saying statements like this is akin to an wise man going into a room of fools and announcing he is smarter. when this happens he becomes no wiser than the fools in the room.


myenglishisno wrote:
Then there are foreign teachers that could get away with murder in their classrooms because they please their co-teachers in just the right way and because they play lots of games. No one complains about them yet they definitely don't fit into our boss's definition of a good teacher (though they keep the kids happy).


It's not really even an opinion, most of them would agree with me. I come earliest, I do the most preparation and I don't take breaks. Other employees come in late regularly, immediately leave to go out to lunch during scheduled prep time. They prep very little for their classes. Sometimes, they just read the textbook with the students, show a video, give candy then do a crossword (by sometimes I mean often).

I'm not trying to attack them either. Some people need to prep more than others. I need to have every detail of my class prepped before I walk in. Other teachers can get by by making stuff up as they go along. If I told them exactly this, they would agree with me (and have before). Some have admitted to not taking this job seriously yet they aren't under any pressure of being fired because they're liked.

Quote:

looking for closure in broken english won't make you feel better. getting back on the horse and changing your outlook will though.


If you read the OP, most of my bosses are foreigners. They've been in Korea for a long time. Our hagwon is supposed to pride itself on "real teaching" when in practice I often feel like it's just a big show for the parents. The hagwon is structured and ran very differently than 99% of hagwons out there which is why my original post is so long.

If I worked at a mom and pop hagwon and the boss didn't know a thing about education, I wouldn't give two craps about being fired other than the annoyance of finding new work. Here, I feel differently because these problems are arising between myself and people from my own culture. It was the Korean co-teachers and parents that got me fired but it was backed my a foreigner pretty high up on the totem pole within my company (whom I've only met on a handful of occasions). On asking him why I was fired, I couldn't get an answer other than "the co-teachers complained about you" (which around here could most likely mean that the kids complained to the parents who in turn complained to the co-teachers as the co-teachers usually don't know what I'm doing in my classes). He was supposed to tell me in detail later on but he never did, which caused me to analyse myself a lot and try to fill in the blanks with introspection. It has been making me depressed as anyone, regardless of how capable or incapable they are, can find faults with just about everything they do if they look hard enough.


Quote:

i don't know how good of a teacher you are, but methinks something else is going on in your mind that has nothing to do with your english teaching ability.
my 2 cents.


I'm not a very trusting person because I've been burned in the past. I don't get on too well with people. In the beginning, I smiled and did my job but I didn't communicate with any of the other staff. This got me into a few confrontations which led to me being more open. However, all of these issues, as well as the issue I highlighted earlier, happened back during the beginning of my employment. I thought everything was going smoothly as I hadn't had any complaints or problems in a long time and then I was fired out of the blue, seemingly.

If I had known this job relied so much on communicating with co-teachers then I would have never signed the contract as I prefer to work alone. However, upon reflection, I really don't think I deserved to get fired. I'm starting to think that I got fired simply because I wasn't popular with the co-teachers as every teacher probably gets complained about by the parents at some point, it's just that those other teachers probably get defended and I don't.

Quote:
Outside of work I have had some of the best times of my life in Korea, but when I look at what the kids, parents and bosses have reduced me to - a lying, performing clown ruining his potential for money, it makes me sick. I have severely shortchanged myself by staying in this bloody pantomine gig and I know it. If I had have taken the potential I had at uni (revered amongst many of my peers and respected by my professors) and developed it instead of working here, I could be sucsessful in a real career now in perhaps academia, journalism or some aspect of tv / film production instead of hanging out with perpetual backpackers and - even worse - being one of them myself.


Yup. Unfortunately, I don't really have an prospects at home. Even when I finish my Master's, there isn't really much I can do. Nothing that pays as well or is as rewarding as this, as horrible as that sounds. I'm from the East Coast of Canada which is all minimum wage and call centres, haha.

Quote:
You have non shared housing and I assume around 2.3mil coming in, you get up at 12pm if you want and all you have to do is fill out some kids books or let them copy off the baord and sing some songs and play games!!!


I want to address this one. I actually would have never considered working at a normal hagwon. I chose this one because they offered me 2.6mil, a NICE apartment near a major subway station and lots of other perks. In return, they expected me to work very hard as the hagwon has this whole system of "real teaching" and promoting/rewarding teachers who make solid lesson plans and teach well while firing those who can't hack it in the sixth month. Not only that, when I signed the contract originally, I spoke with the foreign manager (or whatever he is) who sympathized about bad hagwons and assured me that this job was about real teaching and working hard. That's kind of why it's such a kick in the pants, I'm torn between thinking: A) it's all a big joke and a lot of evidence points to this or B) maybe, just maybe, they're right and I am a crap teacher. There is a lot of evidence for the former but I'm worried about the latter because I take teaching seriously and if I really am bad at the main thing I thought I was good at then I have a lot of self-evaluation ahead of me.
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jamesd



Joined: 15 Aug 2011
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I want to address this one. I actually would have never considered working at a normal hagwon. I chose this one because they offered me 2.6mil, a NICE apartment near a major subway station and lots of other perks. In return, they expected me to work very hard as the hagwon has this whole system of "real teaching" and promoting/rewarding teachers who make solid lesson plans and teach well while firing those who can't hack it in the sixth month. Not only that, when I signed the contract originally, I spoke with the foreign manager (or whatever he is) who sympathized about bad hagwons and assured me that this job was about real teaching and working hard. That's kind of why it's such a kick in the pants, I'm torn between thinking: A) it's all a big joke and a lot of evidence points to this or B) maybe, just maybe, they're right and I am a crap teacher. There is a lot of evidence for the former but I'm worried about the latter because I take teaching seriously and if I really am bad at the main thing I thought I was good at then I have a lot of self-evaluation ahead of me.


Next time don't believe everything they tell you. Believe only about half and let it build it's way up.

No matter what they tell you, hagwons are money making business first.
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, what jamesd said. every and I mean every hakwan is a business and keeping little emporer minsu happy and saving face is the bottom line.

As for the self evaluation part - you might want to look at that whole not getting on with people and wanting to work alone aspect.

This is not that kind of industry. If you want that - go and be an archivist or librarian or something, but teaching is a people job.

You need to learn how to grease the right poles (ooeer) in the office, even if you don't respect the person, it's all politics and faking it so as not to rock the social boat and is very important back home too. You have to put on a smile and be charming as much as you can during 'face time' around the office.

Also building rapport with your students and being forgiving of mistakes is essential.

I'll repeat, teaching is a people job. And all the people you'll interact with, students, coworkers, managers etc are going to have different outlooks, experiences and personalities to you and you might not like them one bit, but you have to act professional and be polite and sociable etc all the same.

Such is life, Sartre, such is life lol...
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jrwhite82



Joined: 22 May 2010

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Floating World wrote:


hear, bloody hear. (or is it here, here?)

I'm so glad the apologists keep out of this forum mostly and we can express our frustrations with this 'industry' without getting into symantic crap slanging matches.

I wake up often or come home often, look at myself in the mirror and think of all the potential I had and say to myself 'how the hell did it come to this? (being an english monkey and working for idiots.)

You saw the movie 'The History Boys?" When Richard Harris has a breakdown at the end and says 'I've given the best years of my life to this place for nothing?' (or something like that.) That's how I feel.

Outside of work I have had some of the best times of my life in Korea, but when I look at what the kids, parents and bosses have reduced me to - a lying, performing clown ruining his potential for money, it makes me sick. I have severely shortchanged myself by staying in this bloody pantomine gig and I know it. If I had have taken the potential I had at uni (revered amongst many of my peers and respected by my professors) and developed it instead of working here, I could be sucsessful in a real career now in perhaps academia, journalism or some aspect of tv / film production instead of hanging out with perpetual backpackers and - even worse - being one of them myself.

This is my last year dammnit. This job for anything more than one year is a knackers yard for lost potential. (No, that wasn't satire.)

if you have no ambition, dremas or goals other than saving 600 pounds a month and paying off debt, great.

Otherwise you are short changing yourself by doing esl in Korea (my friend working for a Korean uni says it's the same there.)

Seriously; is this what we went to uni for?

The day I leave this country I'm getting a phoenix tattoo and I'm going to wake myself the f up.

THE WORST PART OF IT IS knowing you are a smart, hardowrking and capable individual (I worked for my government in a managerial role ffs and taught homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics drama for development to great results) but the Korean hakwan and PS system wont let you do a good job and work to your full potential so as to not spset their traditional way of doing things (even though it doesn't work - they spend the most in the world on esl and achive the poorest results) and of course - t not lose precious face. And this makes us lose (well it has me, only the beer buzz brings me backto myself these days and being outside of work at weekends) self respect and self esteem - just like the OP - when we are told the lack of results etc is OUR FAULT.

You know, I actually respect the 'working holiday' esl folk who go to work in their ripped jeans and dirty t-shirt and play the pretending game and do bingo and pictionary etc - know why? They are not compromising themselves. They are taking it for the joke that it is and raking in the money, having a blast outside of work and then getting tfo.

Well essentailly I can only blame myself for staying and being here in a roundabout way has been good for me in other ways and I actually would not change any of it, no matter what.

But yeah, need about ten mil more and then bye bye baby, bye bye.


Sounds like a future lifer to me! Laughing

Just kidding. I totally get the frustration you all are feeling. Head up OP! There are other jobs out there for you.
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lowest point of your life? I went through a similar ordeal a little over a year ago and was pretty bummed out (first time I had ever been fired as well), but in no way should it be the lowest point of your life.

What I would suggest is that, no matter how much a place inflates its reputation up, that you go in with an open mind and spend the first month or three catching the vibe of the place. Like another poster said, earn yourself some cred before you start judging the effectiveness of the system used.

Another important factor is that, yes, you need to have a bit of a social air about you. I'm not talking creepy smiles and an attitude towards life bordering on being a zealot. But when chances to spark up a random conversation emerge, just play along a bit. I'm introverted as hell, but when my supes does the monthly team lunch thing, I put on my game face. I have no idea if you're even clamming up or not, but judging by how you described yourself and what I know about my own personality, I figure it's a possibility.
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TheUrbanMyth



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: It's not a superiority complex when you really are superior

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the above post. Never been fired myself but I have quit two jobs (one here and one back home) on bad terms...so I kind of can imagine how it feels.

But seriously don't let it get you down. Don't judge your self-value by some dime-a-dozen job. You should be able to get another job easily enough.

And yes to what people have said about rocking the boat early on. All the changes I managed to make came after my first year (as I said in a thread not so long ago.) Earn your spurs (so as to speak) and make an effort to fit in and you should find it easier going.

Good luck!
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f22rahman



Joined: 01 May 2011

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The work ethics here can be unique. I hope the best for you.

Last edited by f22rahman on Sun May 12, 2013 4:59 am; edited 2 times in total
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

f22rahman wrote:
Myenglishisno, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are a good teacher and a hardworker. Your posts closely reflect my situation, if not almost identical.

However, I have accepted that it is an inevitably that I too may soon be let go. Therefore, I would like to know, would it be possible to still get a public school job here in Korea? Or would it be impossible since it would create a black mark on me? Would it be possible to get any job at all, in Korea or back in the US?

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to give advice.


You're not joking? Okay, I'll assume that's the case.

It wont affect your job prospects in the us one bit and it wont make much of a difference in Korea either. This from a person who just landed a very nice new job in Korea after leaving his previous hakwan job after only 2 weeks. I have also left 3 jobs at around the 6 months mark and it has never really effected my geting another and in fact ironically, each job I've had after being fired was progressively better.
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Eglayzer



Joined: 22 Feb 2009
Location: Gimhae-si, near Busan

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you give your old jobs 30 days notice or did you just jump ship? I am in the same situation and want to leave, don't trust my current boss to pay my final check and just want to leave.
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sing81



Joined: 09 Apr 2011
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't worry about. Bad Korean employers don't realize how they hurt their own country because of their bad behavior. They may benefit from this financially but only for a very short while. Later many of these companies are left struggling to pay the bills and too stupid realize they are their own worst enemies, short term and long term. For instance my former employers lost their other financing abruptly and with no notice. I don't believe this source of income was legit. They seem to have been exploited for short term gain and until the money was gone they believed it to be infinite, but money is never infinite. In short, they were used and too dumb to figure it out.

Koreans should really think how they represent their country especially when dealing with foreign workers. Lately I've noticed several commercials for Korean Air and Korean tourism on American television. However, when my sister asked her friend, who also worked in Korea, and myself, would you recommend Korea for tourism we both said no. We both wanted to visit other countries in Asia. Her friend had worked in Vietnam and liked it a lot. It shows money doesn't buy class. I myself would like to visit Vietnam and my Dad served his country proudly during the war, but we were never at war with South Korea. Why do so many Korean employers act the way they do? Another friend of my sister's friend suggested Japan. I, myself, would like to go to Taiwan or China, especially since I hear a lot less complaints about Taiwan. Several countries in Asia but not Korea. We both worked in the country for 2 years. That says a lot about the country. But bad Korean employers, which seem to be majority, don't seem to get it. I know money is a motivator, but how does acting badly, likely calling the police, and treating good employees badly, helping you to make money. It's not, at least not for the long term.
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Illysook



Joined: 30 Jun 2008

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't feel bad OP. I got into an arguement with someone last week and got fired on the first day. Now the school wants 135,000 for a transfer letter. I will probably just head home. I've got a CELTA certification and good references, so coming back to teach public school in a few months is likely...if I don't find something more interesting back home.
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