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



Joined: 07 Nov 2008

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You were between a rock and a hard place.

You have your way to send information, and all the children/hagwon employees-managers know is their way. You need to try to be more gradual in your approach. Moving in, during the first six months, ask more questions. Be the noob. Later you know what they like to see and you know what works- hope this helps at your next job.
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Chris.Quigley



Joined: 20 Apr 2009
Location: Suwon, S.Korea

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Floating World wrote:
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.


This is also why socio-paths are known for. They will become exactly what their victim wants them to be. So... to be a good English teacher - you must become a socio-path!
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ironclad80



Joined: 13 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Screw the hagwon! Don't blame yourself! It sounds like you have a sincere interest in teaching and making a difference in the kids lives. That alone makes you more competent than half the people who came here just because they can't find jobs back home due to the economy.

I worked like a slave for a hagwon last year making sure the kids were getting the best education possible and you know what I got from the crooks? A reference that cost me a job!

No matter where you go there will be office politics, favoritism, crazy bosses, corruption, etc.

Don't beat yourself up over it! Like someone else mentioned, if you got fired from a public school that would be a lot worse.

Good luck!
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ZIFA



Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Location: Dici che il fiume..Trova la via al mare

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ironclad80 wrote:
It sounds like you have a sincere interest in teaching and making a difference in the kids lives.


It sounds like he would do well to try and get higher teaching qualifications
that way he could work at places that actually share the same values.

Hogwons tend to be bad for your health. You can be a great teacher but still get shafted. Its a tricky old game, there really are no ground rules.

Quote:
No matter where you go there will be office politics, favoritism, crazy bosses, corruption, etc.


Office politics are of extraordinarily high importance in hagwons. Its an intense, self-conscious hothouse atmosphere.
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sbp59



Joined: 01 Apr 2009
Location: Somewhere in SK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Floating World wrote:
nero wrote:
ontheway wrote:
Since we have never seen you teach, we have no way of knowing if you really have what it takes. So, I'm not going to pretend that you are a good teacher who was wronged by your school, since there is no way anyone here could know that.

Public schools in Korea teach nothing - especially in the English program - and surviving there, even being praised there, is meaningless. Some years ago there was a mentally retarded native English teacher with a fake degree who worked happily for two years at a Korean public school - he got fired after one week at his first hogwan. (He admitted, outside of his workplace, that he'd never attended a single day at any University. To those of us who knew him, he deserved to be fired and the only surprise was that no one noticed at the public school.)

There are definitely hogwans that use flattery, inflated grades and undeserved praise to secure and retain students instead of actually teaching. One of the big, famous chain schools with a reputation for its large group of returning students is notorious for this - the students learn very little, but because they have already learned English elsewhere, it appears that the school is good. If you were at a chain like this one and tried to buck their system, you could definitely have been a fish out of water - a good teacher in a useless job.

If you think you are still interested in teaching, you should give it another try. Try to find one of the good hogwans that actually teaches English at the appropriate levels, where the students actually advance. Most of these will be small, mom and pop type schools with a good program, honest policies and tough requirements for students and teachers alike. There you can test your mettle and find out if you have what it takes.

Don't sweat getting fired. Even when a person deserves it (NOT saying that you did), it can be a healthy learning and maturing experience. Take what you've learned, evaluate yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your plans and goals, and then, move on.


This is exactly right. There are hagwons (among them a large chain) who base their teacher's performances on student assessments. Yes, they get elementary and middle school students to judge how the teachers are doing in class.
Now, which kind of teacher do you think will come out best on that one? The teacher who has prepared work and activities, or the teacher that plays games and gives out snacks and candy every lesson?
And yet here we are in 2011 playing the same games. It's a joke. I have a couple of months to go (thank god) then I am out of this b.s.

Chin up OP!


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.


Thank you for your post. I feel exactly the same, most of my ambitions and goals seem to be getting drained out of me here. I finish my 2nd year here this December and need to get out of here and on with my life. Had some good times in Korea, made some money, but enough is enough, it's sucking the life out of me.
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f22rahman



Joined: 01 May 2011

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes their culture can come into play and we just need to adapt. Hope your situation is improving.

Last edited by f22rahman on Sun May 12, 2013 5:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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myenglishisno



Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Location: Geumchon

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the continued support, everyone. As I said in the original post and what still gets to me is that it was fellow English teachers that did me in as much as anything else. It had nothing to do with corruption though I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I rocked the boat early on and created some kind of chain reaction that I couldn't stop no matter how hard I tried.

The hagwon only hired pretty 25-35 year old Korean teachers and shortly after I was hired, they made a policy of only hiring lightly coloured Americans under the age of 25. That means I was already at odds with my co-workers (having nothing at all in common with them) and upon lots of reflection, I realized that it was gossip and 'cliqueyness' that got me fired, hiding behind a veil of "you're a bad teacher."

It was perpetuated by the fact that I didn't drink with my co-workers and didn't bend over backwards sucking up to the Korean stewardesses--erm, I mean "teachers". I'm at a completely different point in my life than my co-workers so I just ignored them and they didn't like that. When I realized I was on the wrong end of the gossip mill, I started ignoring the Korean teachers too as to not give them more ammunition. That probably just made things worse. The kicker is that I'm actually a normal/kind guy who usually gets along fine with people, I just handle drama and gossip by either hitting it in the face or sidestepping it. That does not fly here.

Right now, two things really bug me. The first thing is that before working at that hagwon, I had told myself I would never work at a kid's hagwon again (I worked at a so-so one for a year back in '07). The reason I even signed the damn contract is because they had foreigners at every level of the company (it has numerous connected branches and a CEO unlike other hagwons) and they assured me that they weren't like other hagwons (also the salary and apartment were A1). They said they were all about real teaching and development. That was complete BS because there was very little "development" beyond "be more entertaining because one kid in one of your classes complained to their parents".

So that really bugs me because they built themselves up into something they're not. Actually, by trying to be "the best" they inadvertently became more suffocating and less educational than even the worst money grubbing hagwons. In retrospect, it should have obvious that their "educational philosophy" was nothing more than a giant circle jerk among a bunch of elitist hotheads (mainly foreigners) that got a modicum of power due to the fact that they weren't that bad in the classroom. I'm not a professional teacher in that I do not hold an education degree yet, in hindsight, even I know that some of their "philosophies" were complete batsh*t. Combine that with the fact that they had no tolerance for anyone who didn't worship the curriculum (which involved one-size-fits-all textbooks that were multiple times more advanced than the average student's level).

The other thing that bugs me is that I want to name and shame this hagwon (or should I say 'company') so bad yet I can't due to libel laws. If any of this sounds familiar, be warned. The only people who seem to really thrive in this company are... how we say, empty vessels. Other people survive by keeping their heads down but they definitely regret signing the contract. It is quite possibly the most soul-sucking hagwon out there because they go so far as to cultivate a culture that implies at every turn that if you don't fit their mold and if you don't work your ass off and essentially degrade yourself, then you're a bad teacher. Of course, the only way to be a good teacher is to blend in and never question the Korean teachers or the curriculum (this is probably why they're actively trying to hire clueless people now--when they hired me they were looking for experienced people).


If any of this sounds familiar, don't sign the dotted line...

I'm doing much better by the way. I found a quiet, low stress job.


Last edited by myenglishisno on Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ZIFA



Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Location: Dici che il fiume..Trova la via al mare

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

myenglishisno wrote:
I'm at a completely different point in my life than my co-workers so I just ignored them and they didn't like that.


OK hold on, you're sounding like a snob suddenly.

Quote:
It was perpetuated by the fact that I didn't drink with my co-workers and didn't bend over backwards sucking up to the Korean stewardesses--erm, I mean "teachers".


You don't have to drink with people to get along with them.It is entirely possible to be on friendly terms with people 10 years younger.

Quote:
I started ignoring the Korean teachers too


This does not bode well for your ability to work with other people..

Quote:
I had told myself I would never work at a kid's hagwon again (I worked at a so-so one for a year back in '07).


Hogwons vary. Not all of them are that bad. And if you're doing a good job and are happy then its not a waste of time.

If its professional development you want then I'd recommend you head back to the west and start climbing the rungs.
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myenglishisno



Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Location: Geumchon

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ZIFA wrote:
myenglishisno wrote:
I'm at a completely different point in my life than my co-workers so I just ignored them and they didn't like that.


OK hold on, you're sounding like a snob suddenly.


Well, their main hobby was drinking and 90% of their conversations were about either what they drank last night, what happened to them while drunk and what they were going to do (alcohol related) the next night. I didn't mind that so much but I wasn't on the same page.

I tried being nice but gossip and cattiness was the biggest reason. I didn't want to be involved with people who would be nice to someone in person then talk trash the second they stepped out of the room. They were mean/rude to me because I didn't go out drinking with them (because I can't drink) and that was part of the reason when push came to shove, no one had my back. Which is why I got fired. They got away with so much because they 'bonded' and would defend one another.

Quote:
.

You don't have to drink with people to get along with them.


Yes you do. Not everywhere, but in that place it was pretty much required. It made a lot of difference. I had a public school job like that before too.
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ironclad80



Joined: 13 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ZIFA wrote:
ironclad80 wrote:
It sounds like you have a sincere interest in teaching and making a difference in the kids lives.


It sounds like he would do well to try and get higher teaching qualifications
that way he could work at places that actually share the same values.

Hogwons tend to be bad for your health. You can be a great teacher but still get shafted. Its a tricky old game, there really are no ground rules.


You're not kidding! I was always told I look 7 years or so younger than my age. Then I worked at a hagwon.....
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ironclad80



Joined: 13 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

f22rahman wrote:

Just outta curiosity, if I try to apply for a public school position and my resume lists that I worked at a hagwon, can't the public school call the hagwon and find out more about me? And thus, the pubic school finds out that I was let go?


Yes, they can and will. On the same token, your resume goes to immigration so they have a record of your work place. They might wonder why you didn't list your hagwon.

In my case, I can't list my hagwon on my resume for future job endeavors because for whatever reasons they gave me a bad ref. It's kinda sad you have to leave out valuable teaching experience, in my case a whole year, but if you find a good employer who values you as a human and teacher afterwards you'll always have that.
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Draz



Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Location: Land of Morning Clam

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Floating World wrote:

I'll be honest with you; the only reason I stayed in this joke industry is that I had a compulsive gambling problem so was living from paycheck to paycheck (often with loans from friends to get me through) and couldn't afford to leave or didn't want to go home broke.


I'm still here because of my compulsive saving problem. Probably less destructive in the long run but, you know, I am still here either way.

I agree with most of the other posters that the problem was not your teaching. Maybe you could work a little on how you relate to people, personally I wouldn't (didn't) and just got a job that had a whole lot more autonomy. Sure I still "have to" be nice to people around the office but that comes a lot more naturally when the people you have to charm are not constantly riding your ass over stupid backwards crap.
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No_hite_pls



Joined: 05 Mar 2007
Location: Don't hate me because I'm right

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Draz wrote:
The Floating World wrote:

I'll be honest with you; the only reason I stayed in this joke industry is that I had a compulsive gambling problem so was living from paycheck to paycheck (often with loans from friends to get me through) and couldn't afford to leave or didn't want to go home broke.


I'm still here because of my compulsive saving problem. Probably less destructive in the long run but, you know, I am still here either way.


Love It! Very Happy Laughing Laughing Agreed!
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One the above note, Mr Floating will give ten to one odds that the OP's ex-hakwan was one of the ECC / YBM's in Northern Seoul.
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f22rahman



Joined: 01 May 2011

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As foreigners living and working here, we're going to run into some things. Try to be positive, and if anything, we have each other for support. Best of luck for your situation.

Last edited by f22rahman on Sun May 12, 2013 5:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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