Sunday, August 28, 2005

Outside, the hot Daegu sun---Inside, me. Working.

It's Sunday. Normally, I would be studying at Kiung Pook National University, among the many study rooms, learning Korean, or studying on the French DELF/DALF exam that I will take in Spring. Or, perhaps, I would be eating out with Korean and foreign friends alike, enjoying the beautiful weather---as mountains surrounding the Daegu valley traps summer clouds and hot southern air, creating a sauna effect, leaving it's inhabitants gasping for the Fall season. But, alas, I am.. at work.

I often think of what a newspaper story might read in the case of my overworking, particularly on a Sunday--the one, well-known 'vacation day' for everyone this side of Dong Hae (The Sea of Japan):
The Daegu Tribune: "American English teacher, 26 years old,
found exhausted Monday morning while working since Saturday afternoon to complete 80+ progress reports for kids that she only sees 1 and 1/2 hours per a week."
This feel awefully reminscent of the story I read not too long ago in an English version of The International Herald Tribune. This kid (more like an adolescent as he was near 28 years old) who told his folks that he would play 'just a little longer' at an internet cafe--he ends up dead after spending a total of 3 days there, leaving only to go to the bathroom and ordering food to be delivered to the cafe while he played incessantly. Crazy coincidence? Now that's what I call overdoing the videogaming!

Alright, so my story is nothing like the kid who played videogames non-stop. But I have to admit, it gets rather cumbersome doing 80+ progress reports--analyzing the work the kids' have done over the past month, writing down the main objectives for each lesson (for each class, nonetheless!), and then try to remain objective in estimating whether each kid's progress in speaking, motivation, class participation, expression, listening ability and comprehension... have all improved along the lines of "below average-average-very good-excellent" in just 6 short hours of teaching. Is this even possible???

My boss, Susan, told me the other day that I have to be careful what I write about the kids, and what I say about their progress---because the parents will be checking their kid's progress. If the kid hasn't progressed well or their learning trend has fallen to average or below average, then the parents will be breathing down her neck for answers. So then she'll be breathing down mine as well. But how can you accurately estimate how a child has progressed in such a short amount of time---not to mention, 80 different kids ALL doing different material that ranges in level, vocabularly, comprehension and the like?!? It's absolutely baffling to me!

Thus here I am, obediant, willingly stuck here on my vacation Sunday, wondering what the hot Daegu sun feels like verses the flourescent lights and the air conditioner on my back...ah, the life of an English teacher.


Celadon said...

In those kind of circumstances I used to write ridiculously glowing reports. When there's just no time to truly assess the kid it's better to over praise than risk condemning someone who's worked very hard.

Chelsea said...

I agree. I'm even praising the kids who've distinctly NOT improved, but at least HAVE the ability to. This teaching business can be fun and challenging, but a bit draining in the same light--particularly where there is progress to be analyzed!

Anonymous said...

You're both wrong to do this, in my opinion.

If there is not enough for you to perform an evalutaion of the student's performance, then you should protest that you need more time with them.

That's like a surgeon wo decides to operate on the brain without knowing if the disease has got any better or worse.

If I were teaching these classes, I would refuse to write such detailed reports. Instead, merely a resport indicating how much effort the child is taking to learn... that you can assess in the first 30 minutes of class sometimes.

Chelsea said...

Response to Anonymous: what a bold statement you have to answer. You must be a teacher?

An evaluation is an evaluation; it must be done, and it must be given.

I'm allowed only 1 and 1/2 hours per week with each student (and by this, just classtime, not individually); so it's ridiculously crazy to have to write 80+ reports for students, some of whom I've known for all but 6 hours, if that. BUT--it IS a requirement to do so, and I don't have much choice.

It's not so much detailed as a report as you might presume: how are they motivated, have they improved, what did they work on, etc. etc. But I'm thorough. What took so long was the new requirement to write EXACTLY what the class or level worked on for that month--without given prior notice or preparation to do so.

Next time, ask more details before you write such a bold statement--you need to know all sides first!

Anonymous said...

I was misunderstood: When I expressed my opinion stating what you were doing was wrong, I was referring to this statement, quote: "In those kind of circumstances I used to write ridiculously glowing reports..." that you agreed upon.

I have been a teacher several times in the past, and while evaluations must be written in order to assess the student's progress, you inferred that the shcool was asking for more detail than you could possibly remember. Such evaluations from 'memory' should be avoided if possible, and avoided absolutely if you have no means to prove them. What if a parent comes back raving that a child did GREAT in this class but FAILED the next one through lack of previous knowledge? I would be greatly upset as a parent if my child received glowing reports even though he could barely keep up. I would rather nail a problem while it was just a bud.

Anyhow, I didn't mean to post any blame on you... I was merely stating my thoughts.