Teaching in Korea has been some of the best years of my adult life. Coming into the New Year, I took time to reflect on why I have decided to stay so long. As I was talking to my friends about our resolutions, I thought about the good times that I’ve had while living in Seoul. I would think that after working for ChungDahm and at the same location for four years that I would be tired of teaching. Truthfully, at times like any other job, it can be stressful but I truly feel the positives have outweighed the negatives. Here are some thoughts I would like to share with everyone so that we, as teachers, and our students can stay motivated in 2016.
1. After being in the same location for four years, I thought that maybe I may be getting complacent. To be honest, I began to doubt my reason for teaching. I knew I loved teaching, but I wasn’t sure for how much longer I could do it. Until this term, I had the youngest of students through ChungDahm's April Academy. These students didn’t know how to speak or write the alphabet but they had such an energy and enthusiasm for wanting to learn. I felt myself being rejuvenated by their youth and their eagerness to learn. I cannot not smile enough when I have these students run into my room yelling ‘Hi teacher!’
2. Another thing that helped me solidify my reason for teaching was because of my past students. Social media is huge here in South Korea and many students want to keep in contact with you. It is not a requirement to be friends with the students outside of the classroom or even when they leave the academy, but many of them will ask you for your information. On New Year’s Day, I had countless students message me wishing me a Happy New Year and how they missed me. I was completely shocked because it was so unexpected. To see that you have had an impact on a young person’s life is indescribable. I almost teared up. Key word, almost. Between my most recent students and oldest ones, I realized how much I love my job and that has motivated me even more to do well this year.
3. If you are familiar with the ChungDahm program, A2 students must study either Toefl Jr. or iBT exams. It can become very repetitive and hard for everyone to pay attention. As soon as I find out who my students are for their term, I ask the Korean staff members to show their previous test scores. I keep a copy of it and when I meet my students and I challenge them to get at least 20 more points (Toefl Jr.) or 5 more points (iBT) from the last term. I can come off as very blunt with my students in regards to this program because I feel this is the reason why many parents choose to send their child to our academy. If their scores don’t improve, then it’s likely I won’t see them next term. As a result, I go over their scores and tell them this is the goal that we are going to work go after this term. After that, I tell them that I would like 50% of my students to enter the next studying level. If I can help them plan goals, then they will have something to achieve rather than just coming and going because their parents want them to be there. After taking the exams towards the end of the term, I get a report of their proficiency scores. It’s is so exciting for me to see the joy in their faces when they know that they have achieved their goal and are going to be in the next studying level.
4. When it comes to project classes, I am really thankful for the loudestbrain.com website. There are many interesting videos on there, that have been marketing approved, that help my students take their minds off of studying even though the video pertains to the day’s topic. Also, it is great when corporate creates a country-wide competition for our students to compete in. You can see the competitiveness and creativity light up in their eyes as they want to showcase their talents. When these competitions come out, I gather all of the teachers and conduct a brainstorming session to see how we can help our students excel. I think these strategy sessions have helped because our academy has placed in numerous project based competitions. I am so thankful for the teachers at my location because they put in a lot of time and effort to make sure our academy and students are noticed. Winning draws out everyone’s competitive spirit and us wanting to do a good job keeps us highly motivated.
With the reflections that I have had today (thanks to having my class canceled), I feel like I am ready to conquer 2016! I am energized and wanting to do an even better job than I have ever done!
Marc has been living in Seoul and working at the ChungDahm Learning' s Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. He has worked his way up from being a teacher and to a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.