I just arrived in Gimje about two weeks ago and I'm the only native English teacher at my school. I was just told that I have to do an open class next week. I have no idea what to do and since I don't have much experience yet, I'm really worried. I don't even know all my students' names yet!!! Any advice for a new teacher?
Thanks a million.
First of all, I had to look up Gimje. I had never heard of it before. And judging by its size, I'm not at all surprised that you're the only NET at the school. Okay, well it sucks that you're being thrown into an open class already. Usually schools give new teachers plenty of time to get comfortable standing in front of a class before sending in the mothers. In this case, I wonder if the teacher you replaced was not very good or had some problems which angered some mothers and so now the director is putting a lot of faith in you to carry the class and make the mothers happy again. I know you don't want to hear that and I'm sure it only ups the ante, but if you know why you're being put in that situation, it should help.
Open Class is something that most of us have to deal with at one point or another. To a new teacher, the thought of them can be terrifying and there's nothing I can say that will make that initial fear go away. However, I can offer a few tips.
Open Class is not an impromptu lecture that you conjure up during the actual class. It is a practiced, staged exhibition designed to appease mothers and make them believe their little
Now, don't be foolish enough to think that the mothers aren't onto this trick. They know it, but still treasure rote memorization and any opportunity to elevate themselves though their children. However, it is the mothers who truly define whether or not your open class was a success. The best way to ensure that is to carefully craft the class and manage your time so that each student gets to speak for roughly the same amount of time. Bribery and favoritism is rampant in Korean education and if a mother sees that her son/daughter is not the teachers favorite, then she will complain that the teacher ignored her child. Do yourself a favor and balance it all out. They don't expect their child to answer every question or even get them correct, but they do expect you to call on them.
The term "dancing monkey" often gets tossed around playfully among teachers on the peninsula. Another personal favorite would be the "biological tape recorder". Well, for open class, being a dancing monkey (especially with the young ones) is something that is almost expected. While we might view it as insulting, degrading or just plain embarrassing, parents view it as energetic, enthusiastic and caring. I never was too great at dancing around. Singing songs and having the kids repeat after you is always a solid route and a pretty good time-killer. I would just try and smile, laugh and pretend that I hadn't practiced the same routine for the past two weeks. I had a friend who was the perfect stereotype of the dancing monkey. He had greasy hair, was slightly overweight, would run into the wall and fall on the ground and do anything he could to make the mothers like him. It worked too. You might discover your inner-monkey. Also, since you don't know your students names yet, go around the room and ask the to spell their names. As they write them on the board, intentionally misspell them. They laugh, the parents laugh and you win (or die inside).
Your hagwon or school expects a few things of you as well. They want you to make sure all the kids are well-behaved, have their books out and are comfortable with you. You should dress smart and at least look presentable. Remember, most private school directors do not care about education. They care about money and a successful open class or demo class is easy and effective advertisement. Perception is king in Korea and knowing how to tune into that ideology will save you time and stress. Good luck!
If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.