Arriving in class the bell sounds that class has begun and her co-teacher arrives a minute later.
Miss Kim then proceeds to say, "Julianne, there's a meeting downstairs I must go to now. "
Julianne replies, "Fine. I'll show the students a movie."
Miss Kim disappears to go to her meeting that is more important than the scheduled class she has with Julianne and skips out on after the class has already begun, abandoning her duties and responsibilities to the--as public school contracts state--"assistant-teacher" . . . who does what the vast majority of native English teachers in Korea do even if there is a co-teacher present--teach the class as the primary teacher.
The first 2 or 3 times this happened to Julianne she reacted in the way that most new foreign English teachers in Korea react: outrage, disbelief, shock, and the list goes on . . .
The secondary reaction most new foreign teachers have is to be professional and to still try and teach the class without a co-teacher present to help with classroom behavior management, translation, and other teaching tasks that native English teachers generally need help with from their Korean co-teacher .
I'll say this again: the general reaction and tendency of new foreign teachers is to stay and try to do the lesson on their own.
Put another way, the students change from being cute little Gizmos,
When a new foreign teacher says "Oh well, the show must go on" they might be walking into this kind of a situation,
Back to the question . . .
What do you do when your co-teacher doesn't show up for class?
This depends on a large number of factors . . .
1. Type of lesson plan. Many lessons really need the presence and aid of a co-teacher.
2. How much EFL/ESL training and experience you, the 'newby,' have as a public school instructor. If you don't have an EFL/ESL certificate, zero teaching experience to less than a year, and have never taught in Asia before (let alone in Korea) . . . it's probably not a good idea to try and teach the class on your own. You may end up doing more damage to the class behavior patterns and routines, to your classroom discipline, and the general learning and teaching dynamic that you've managed to establish so far during your time at the school.
3. The general character and language learning abilities of the class that you'll be teaching. If there is that one class (sometimes more) each week that you dread teaching because they're all little hellions then you might want to reconsider trying to teach your lesson alone . . .
***I will have to finish writing this post in more detail at another time due to my own work duties.
To be continued . . .
. . . but for now the most simple and effective solution to the problem of your co-teacher not showing up to teach a class with you and/or telling you at the last minute they have a 'business trip' or must attend a 'meeting' etc etc etc . . . .
The most effective solution is to keep a DVD at your desk for this type of situation.
Tell your co-teachers POLITELY that if they don't show up to co-teach their assigned class/es with you, and/or cancel at the last second that your solution will be to show a movie to the students.
Another alternative that is slightly better in terms of there being some kind of 'language learning' taking place is to invest in buying some English games the students can play. Some schools will have an English budget that you can get access to, and others will not. I tend to invest some of my own personal income in teaching games and supplies just because it ups the quality of my teaching and it's more fun for the students.
You can do game-based English speaking/conversation classes when you have a co-teacher for regular classes AND use them for after school program classes where native teachers often don't have a co-teacher, or for summer and winter English camps where native teachers often don't have a co-teacher, or . . . yes, for that class when you're left on your own at the last second. Keep some of these game supplies in your desk as a back up for this kind of situation.
The following is an excerpt from writing I did for an orientation book in 2007 . . .
The Uno card game is a fantastic game for learning English (and SPEAKING English) from elementary to middle to high school level students. Up to 10 students per game/deck is possible. Divide the ten students into five pairs. For the average 35-40 student class this means that four decks are needed to do a lesson with a regular size class. After school program/extra conversation classes are usually smaller in size, and you may only need two or three decks.
The little guy on the right was one of those students who most foreign native teachers would pretty much write off and say "He has no English." --- WRONG! This little guy learned and said and mastered more English words and small expressions during the Uno activity then in any other class. Find the right motivation and MAGIC HAPPENS!
Many Korean teachers will have a negative attitude towards using this game in the classroom. But if you educate them on the learning benefits of this game they will slowly come around after they see how much English the students use, and how much REPETITION is involved. Repetition is a big part of traditional teaching techniques that many/if not all countries around the world still use. Game English also makes use of repetition, but excitement and variety are mixed in to neutralize the effects of boredom and monotony on language learners.
Colours, numbers, expressions, exclamations, and general game English expressions can all be taught using Uno. If your co-teacher is still doubtful/negative, use a stopwatch, and time how long English is being spoken during the class. Then compare that time with ANY lesson plan that the co-teacher says that they would prefer to use. Point out that the students speak a lot of English during that class—and that that is the GOAL of the lesson.
After introducing the game, and explaining how to play the game . . . choose English captains (the best English student from each of the game groups in the class). Do a quick model game for these students, and then they can assist you as 'assistant teachers' when there are 4-5 games being played at the same time. A key part of the game playing is that as each student plays a card they MUST speak the English for the card: "Green seven," "Red change direction", "Pick up four and change the colour to ___________." The penalty for NOT speaking the English is to pick up one (up the penalty if they don't follow the rule) extra card. The penalty, after five minutes of play has taken place and students have a sense of how to play the game, for speaking Korean is to pick up two extra cards. The students will police each other once they see that penalizing a student for not speaking English/or/for speaking in Korean will help them win their own game.
Uno Deck: 5, 000 each (prices vary, I found them for this price in 2005).
The generic brand of Jenga is also a very good game for learning English. It has almost no limits to the variations you can create for it when teaching and learning English. I would suggest, however, that using it for more than two lesson plans in a semester will result in student boredom.
Generic Jenga –8, 000won (at Walmart)
Jenga with English language goals works with elementary, middle, high school and even university students.
During my first year of teaching I taught Mondays and Fridays, two hours on each day, to elementary students in an after school program. Before I knew I needed to check on how the class was put together the 'professional' Korean teacher had mixed grades 3-6 in the same class with absolute Beginners to Low-Intermediate level language learners . . . it was a VERY difficult class to teach. Jenga was one of my successful lesson planning concepts.
The girl in this picture would scream "English NO!" at me at the start of every class and did so for about the first two weeks. Throughout the course of the year she became my favorite student, and we developed a very close bond. (I cried during the goodbye party the elementary kids threw for me--and when Se Ri kept begging me to stay on Ganghwa Island I nearly lost it . . .)
The guy in the center was your EFL textbook definition of a BEGINNER. Add to the mix that I'm pretty sure he had mild ADHD and things were 'fun' . . . he did, however, like playing the Jenga game and in exchange for being allowed to play the game he was willing to try to say some simple English questions and answers that were paired with each of the colors.
Middle school students playing Jenga. I remember the kid at the top of the pic on the right would tell me he loved me, do the heart sign with arms over his head, and in one class he did this and said "Teacher, I love you" and then stuck out his tongue and wagged it at me--I nearly choked to death in shock and laughter and had to turn around to hide my laughter and surprise . . . a friend of mine is doing grad work on sexality as motivation for L2 learners . . . not many people consider sexuality as a motivation for language learning but consider that some of our students learn English with the dream of dating and/or marrying a foreign English speaker . . . makes you think, eh?
During each turn a student rolls a die with 3 colors on it. The group then asks the student the color's question, and the student must answer the question correctly in order to take their turn pulling out a Jenga piece from the tower of pieces. Wrong answer, miss a turn. Correct answer gets to pull out the piece from the tower.
Red color: What's your name?
Blue color: Where are you from?
Yellow color: How old are you?
NOTE 1: You can pair language learning goals with each color according to your needs and the lessons goals you want to teach.
Note 2: You may want to stipulate a very clear and specific penalty for knocking over the tower. Students will often choose their own penalty--especially if the teacher does not establish one for the game. I had no idea that 'group beatings' were (and probably still are) the common penalty used for classroom games and activities . . . I turned around during the first class I taught using Jenga to see the students pummeling the student who knocked over the pile. At the time I was too cautious about telling students not to do things because I wanted to 'respect' Korean public school culture. I DO NOT DO THIS NOW, and I don't think other teachers should allow it to happen either. (All this being said damn if these aren't crazy pics of my first year teaching in Korea, lol)
After seeing some of the girls get hurt by this kind of penalty, and even some of the more introverted boys who weren't as physical and into the pummeling of friends as their peers were I decided to use more peaceful penalties. For example, duck walking while quacking . . . the students thought it was hilarious when I demonstrated the new penalty, and it seemed to work well.
Scrabble is a big investment for an individual teacher especially when one game is not enough for an extra conversation class of 20 students, or for a regular class size of 35-40. Ask your school if it has a budget for buying games, and consider whether or not this game is the best one to buy, and how many you would need for 35-40 student classes. I usually have students play the game with English-Korean dictionaries for each of them (they usually have their own, but some schools also have extras too). You can have the students play in pairs. For low-level students this is a good game for word recognition and language production vocabulary skills. For higher-level students, ask them to make small sentences for each word they place on the board. A good deal of free talking also takes place during the game—which is great for the native teacher as it lets us get a clearer idea of what a student’s actual level is when they forget to be shy during a game.
Scrabble Game: 28, 000 won each (at Walmart)
Additional Games that you may want to check out
1. Irregular Verbs, Past and Present, Bingo: 15, 000 (www.englishtiger.com)
2. "Infinity Word" card game: 15, 000 (www.englishtiger.com)
3. "Speed Up, English Math and Transportation" Card Game: 15, 000won (www.englishtiger.com)
4. 200 round balloons in a bucket= 7, 800 won at Emart
5. Game of Life –get the bookstore at the Arts Center to order it online, and you get a teacher’s discount
6. Monopoly - get the bookstore at the Arts Center to order it online, and you get a teacher’s discount
7. Blindfolds - play Marco Polo using the expressions
Paired Q&A #1
A: Who is it? or Who are you?
B: I'm _____. (name)
Paired Q&A #2
A: Where are you?
B: I'm here.
NOTE: Be sure to make the classroom safe for students running around and moving quickly during a physical activity like Marco Polo. A 'NO RUNNING' rule might be needed if you push all the desks in your classroom to the walls, and have a medium-sized space in which to play the game.
The ideas and suggestions are based on my own interpretations of the socio-cultural experiences that foreign teachers have in Korea. It is also based on listening to, and reading, many foreign teachers stories about living in Korea, and teaching in the Korean public school system.
If you copy this and use it please cite the source: Jason Ryan.