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Hagwon "May Have To Close"
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Blanca



Joined: 19 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:32 pm    Post subject: Hagwon "May Have To Close" Reply with quote

I had an interesting meeting with my boss yesterday. I'll give you an approximate rundown of what he said:

My hagwon's first aim is to make money. But as you know, we've been losing students gradually for a while now [true, the numbers have been in steady decline since I've been here - about 9 months, with very few new kids joining permenantly]. If we lose 10% more of our students, the school may have to close. I think it is very important that you are kinder to the children and smile more. Also, some students do not like it when you joke with them about being crazy or smelly [receive as well as give and 99% of students love having banter about being smelly]. Some parents call me and complain that you are unkind to their children, so in your last 3 months you must try to by kinder to the children. Do not tell them to "shut up" if they are noisy, do not take their cellphones, do not be mean to them.

I, of course, agreed and apologised for anything I may have done wrong (although for my money, a lack of in-school discipline and a lack of any kind of support or guidance for me when teaching my classes probably has more to do with kids leaving). However, this really worried me. The school has been going for nearly a decade and all of a sudden (3 months before my contract ends), the constant loss of students is starting to have an effect on things. When I started we probably had close to 150 students and over 9 months we've probably lost around 60 or 70 whilst gaining no more than 15 or so permanent kids. We lost another dozen or so for December.

But then I thought, "hold on, we've got nearly 100 students (I know because I've counted) at a hagwon with one foreign teacher, two Korean teachers and no debt (I happen to know). How on earth is 100 students not enough?!"

So come on Dave's, give me some input here. I, for my part, am going to do whatever the director asks to try and prevent students from leaving but there seems to be something amiss here. My boss is a good guy; I've never had a problem with him, and this is one of the good hagwons (not an amazing one where the foreign teacher actually knows what they're doing, but still decent), but I can't help but feel I'm missing something. Surely a hagwon with 95 students is fairly safe?


Last edited by Blanca on Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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12ax7



Joined: 07 Nov 2009

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Telling kids that they smell and to shut up suggests a lack of discipline and experience on your part.

Put yourself in their shoes. Did your teachers behave in the same way you do? How would you have felt if they did?
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MetaFitX



Joined: 23 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just do whatever your boss asks. Do your 3 months, collect your severance and either find a new (better) job or leave Korea.

The state of EFL in Korea is declining year by year and will not better in the future (due to Korea's horrible birth-rate).

Look for greener pastures.
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Blanca



Joined: 19 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you miss my point. I jokingly tell kids they are smelly and they jokingly respond with things like "no Teacher, you are crazy!". It's all in good humour and I'd never maliciously tell a child they smell, even if they did.

Similarly, I only tell children who are being a pain in the arse to "shut up". You know the ones, the ones that will not do as they're told and are all-round little so-and-sos.

I take your point though, but yes, I've got a lack of experience. I've been an Englishee "teacher" for 9 months. I'm going to make mistakes, which I'm going to correct immediately according to what the boss wants.
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greene



Joined: 11 Dec 2008

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

don't tell students to shut up

tell them ha-ji-ma
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le-paul



Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Location: dans la chambre

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im not in your class so I cant see the craic but i sort of agree with the other poster. Telling your kids they are crazy etc. - vice versa may seem harmless, but the problem is, when youre not there, they will rib each other for it. It starts off teasing and bullying sometimes. I dont know what goes on at home/school, but they dont like being teased. I had an 11 yo kid cry the other day because i said my gf lives in a cave, shes a bus driver and her name is kim cha gi. he just couldnt take that i was teasing him and wouldnt tell him the truth when he asked. Rolling Eyes
Anyway, just suck it up. Youre only there a little while longer. You know the truth of your rapor. just enjoy yourself with the kids and do what the director asks or else you may find you have a battle with labour board and hogwan and its just not worth it imo.
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almosthome



Joined: 16 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kids are pretty amazing. In class with you they might take pleasure in the banter, but they can go home and twist the facts to make you seem mean. Definitely stop joking in any way that could easily be misrepresented, and definitely NEVER tell a kid to shut up. Google "EFL (or ESL) Classroom Management" and read up on a variety of alternative strategies.
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Son Deureo!



Joined: 30 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blanca wrote:
I think you miss my point. I jokingly tell kids they are smelly and they jokingly respond with things like "no Teacher, you are crazy!". It's all in good humour and I'd never maliciously tell a child they smell, even if they did.

Similarly, I only tell children who are being a pain in the arse to "shut up". You know the ones, the ones that will not do as they're told and are all-round little so-and-sos.

I take your point though, but yes, I've got a lack of experience. I've been an Englishee "teacher" for 9 months. I'm going to make mistakes, which I'm going to correct immediately according to what the boss wants.


It's important to keep in mind that as the adult in your classroom, you are always modeling behavior for your students whether you intend to or not. By joking with your students about being crazy and smelly, you are teaching them that being insulting is acceptable behavior in your classroom and in society at large.

The same goes for telling them to "shut up." Saying "Quiet, please!" (for example) in a stern tone of voice gets the same message across while showing them the importance of being polite even under difficult circumstances. Add to that the fact that many Koreans are under the mistaken impression that "shut up" is vulgar, and it's no mystery why your boss is unhappy with you about this.

God knows I made mistakes at least as bad as that in my first year of teaching here, so please don't be defensive. I'm sure there are also plenty of things you're doing right in your classroom, too. I'm a bit concerned, though, that you're defending teasing and insulting your students. Your boss and the students' parents are complaining, and your fellow teachers here are trying to tell you they have a point. You really need to think long and hard about this and stop doing it.

Quote:
I, for my part, am going to do whatever the director asks to try and prevent students from leaving but there seems to be something amiss here.


Based on the timing, you may be right. This could be your boss trying to set you up for a 10th or 11th month firing to get out of paying your severance and airfare. Tread carefully, keep your head down and do your best to keep your students and your boss happy. If your boss asks you to sign anything showing you've received a formal reprimand, don't.

On the other hand, your boss could just be using the fact that your contract is almost up as leverage to try to motivate you to do a better job. Either way, do your best for your students, and try to not to let things get to you.

If your school has lost 1/3 of its students, your boss has lost 1/3 of his revenue and an even bigger share of his profit margin, so he's understandably concerned about it. Whether it's your fault or not (and I doubt it is), he might be lashing out at you because he's looking for someone to blame.

Hogwons tend to be a cyclical, seasonal business. They usually lose students during the spring and fall as it gets closer to exams and school vacation, and then pick up more during summer and winter vacations, especially if they run intensive classes during vacation. You don't mention how long your hogwon has been in business, but if this is a fairly new school your boss may not have the perspective to realize this so he may be panicking over it. If he's been in the business for a while, he maybe taking advantage of this loss of students as a reason to bully you, assuming that you don't know any better.

Hang in there, and keep your head down. Just three more months to go. Plan a nice vacation, I'm sure you deserve it.
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12ax7



Joined: 07 Nov 2009

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blanca wrote:
I think you miss my point. I jokingly tell kids they are smelly and they jokingly respond with things like "no Teacher, you are crazy!". It's all in good humour and I'd never maliciously tell a child they smell, even if they did.

Similarly, I only tell children who are being a pain in the arse to "shut up". You know the ones, the ones that will not do as they're told and are all-round little so-and-sos.

I take your point though, but yes, I've got a lack of experience. I've been an Englishee "teacher" for 9 months. I'm going to make mistakes, which I'm going to correct immediately according to what the boss wants.


I'm not suggesting you're being malicious on purpose, but you're their teacher, not their peer. As others have pointed out, as the adult in the class, there are consequences to your behaviour which you may not be aware of. You're supposed to set a good example for them. Remember, they look at you for cues.
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Blanca



Joined: 19 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies everyone, it's been very helpful. I'll have a to at changing how I do things and of course I'll do what I'm told for the next 3 months. I just can't help but feel 2 things: first of all this has only just become a problem even though I've always done it and the kids have always loved it, and second that my classes are going to be a lot more boron without this banter with the kids, especially the younger ones. I'm also still a little sceptical of why the school might close even though it has plenty of students. I don't know if my boss would lie to me to make me be a better teacher but maybe I'm just being naive. I guess if the worst comes to the worst next month or the one after I'm in a position to go to the labour board.


I take the points onboard though, it's not worth being stubborn for the sake of 3 more months.
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12ax7



Joined: 07 Nov 2009

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blanca wrote:
I'm also still a little sceptical of why the school might close even though it has plenty of students. I don't know if my boss would lie to me to make me be a better teacher but maybe I'm just being naive.


Your boss might be putting you on, or he or she knows very little about the business. The reason you've got fewer students might be because the schools' final exams are in two weeks.

In the years I've been here, it's always been the same with hagwons. The number of students who register changes with the seasons. It's a reality of the business. Motivation, after all, is cyclical.
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joelove



Joined: 12 May 2011

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Son Deureo! wrote:

You don't mention how long your hogwon has been in business,.


Nearly a decade. Just pointing out what it says in first post.

Sounds like the old blame (the foreigner) game though.
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nero



Joined: 11 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, it sounds to me like the OP is inexperienced and isn't completely sure what he/she is doing. The balancing game when teaching comes with experience. Your hagwon has lost a lot of students during your 9 months.
OP - how is the curriculum?
Is it book based or activity based?
How much freedom do you have in the classroom?
Do you lesson plan?
How would a normal lesson go?

Write it up and we can help you make it fun. You can banter with students without going overboard. Remember - they still have to respect you.

What comes with experience is learning how to make boring drills/bookwork interesting.
It sounds like you have had no training, which sucks.

None of this is your fault, really -- but the end result doesn't look good.
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Dodge7



Joined: 21 Oct 2011

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OP you get no sympathy from me. This is why Korea needs to set a standard and strive to hire older, more qualified people. A real teacher, which I am, would never do those things and tell kids that they smell and to shut up. People with economic and business degrees teaching in Korea do these things that you do. Then again, Korea gets what they pay for.
You aren't cut out for teaching and should go back home in your field you graduated in.
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Dodge7



Joined: 21 Oct 2011

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

greene wrote:
don't tell students to shut up

tell them ha-ji-ma

No, don't say hajima. You are an English "teacher," tell them to stop it. Use English, not Korean.
God I'm embarrassed of the "teachers" I am associated with. You guys have no idea how to teach. Not qualified, not good, pathetic. It takes more to be a teacher than your mother tongue. Most "teachers" here are no better than your average Wal-Mart employee stocking shelves.
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