Monday, November 19, 2012

Teaching Evaluation

Koreans take education very seriously.  Parents are more involved and teachers have sleepless nights thinking up new ways to improve their lessons to be effective in their classrooms. To add to their stress all teachers, both Korean and guest English teachers, are required to open their classrooms to parents, fellow members of faculty and teachers from neighbouring schools.  

I was required to host several open classes since I started teaching. Having the parents sit in your class is not so stressful as most of them don't know much English and won't understand what's going on.  They are just thrilled at hearing their children say a few words in a foreign language.  My stress built up when the principal, vice principal, all my co-teachers and a few senior members of faculty came into my class, not just to watch! They came to evaluate my teaching skills. 

Last year (2011) was no different, I spent weeks preparing my lesson to impress their socks off.  Finally, the big day arrived, my students were a dream to teach.  They were well behaved, answered my questions to point, they actively participated in the activities and completed all written tasks. After the class I received a heap of compliments and my stress was over.  But, that was short lived. Little did I know that I was secretly being entered into a competition with other native teachers within my district.  A few months after my open class I was informed that I ranked among the top ten teachers in our teaching district which meant that I would have to host another open class.  I did not know if I was happy or sad with the news; but, I took on the challenge and began working on my lesson plan for my  follow up class.  Again, my school evaluated me but, this time my class was recorded and a copy of the video was sent to the education office for evaluation.  Just before we went on our summer break I was informed that I had passed the second round of the competition and now ranked in the top 5.  "Yay me!" I thought. However, this meant that I had to have ANOTHER open class, only difference this time was that there would be guest English teachers from neighbouring schools observing my class.  Talk about pressure!

Many MANY visitors
I spent the entire summer break perfecting my lesson.  I stressed everyday for 2 months until D-Day.  My co-teacher sent out invites to all schools in our district thinking that only a few teachers would actually show up.  To my horror, I had over 20 visitors on top of the teachers from my school.  This class was also recorded for the education office to evaluate.  During the class I focused on my students and blocked out the crowd of judging eyes. 

In my eyes, the class was a success and my co-teachers took me out for a huge dinner to celebrate.  Before the semester ended we received a call from the education office informing my school that I was crowned "Super Teacher" in our district.  I received a certificate of excellence from the Busan Metropolitan Office of Education as well as a cash incentive.  It has certainly been the highlight of my time in Korea.  All my stress and hours of planning definitely paid off.

Below is a link to the video from my open class.  My friend, Tom, was kind enough to upload it to his YouTube channel so that we can demonstrate what teaching ESL in Korea is like.  

**Video Courtesy of: **

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