Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oh Stealth Korean, I hardly knew ye.

Today I learned two surprising things about Stealth Korean:
  1. She lives on the other side of the city and has been trudging through a one-hour commute for the last 5 years. (!!)
  2. I'll never see her again.
Item 2 is obviously the more surprising.  Stealth Korean's term of service at my school is up and she'll start work somewhere else next week.  See, Korean teachers aren't allowed to work at a school longer than 5 years.  When their fifth year is up they get transferred somewhere else.  I don't know the rationale behind this shuffling of the deck.  It can't have anything to do with preventing tenure because Korean teachers are nigh unfireable regardless of their itinerancy.

I knew nothing about Stealth Korean's imminent departure until this morning, when Chortle clued me in, because nobody tells me anything.  I was like, "Dang."  This is a great personal tragedy for me personally because Stealth Korean was the school's most fluent English speaker (i.e. the only conversational one) and best English teacher.  Almost all the co-teachers I worked with last semester (8 in all) are various shades of useless.  Imagine working a job at which you and all but one of your coworkers is incompetent and the competent one is not just competent, but excellent.

Stealth Korean was totally useful in the classroom.  She interrupted me at appropriate times to clarify points the students couldn't understand; she translated complicated directions into Korean, something none of the others can manage; she improvised novel, unplanned activities when what I was doing wasn't working; she gave me useful feedback and was good at classroom management.  I had no worries working with her.  No matter how badly I cocked things up she was always ready and able to uncock them.  Once, I forgot when one of our classes was scheduled to end (this is easier than you think) and terminated it five minutes early expecting the bell to ring in a few seconds.  Stealth Korean took over without a hitch and prevented an outbreak of chaos.  It was also Stealth Korean who first showed me teaching is not the job for me.  I realized one day, watching her, that she honestly likes her students and truly enjoys teaching.  I never will.

Now she'll be replaced by nobody knows who.  I don't mean the information hasn't trickled down yet, I mean literally nobody knows.  One would think the administrative types would've planned this whole thing out well in advance, having known all year that Stealth Korean was leaving, but in fact they have not.  Hope they get it sorted by next week.  I also hope the new English teacher speaks English and isn't completely worthless.  If it's another Wallflower, I'm in for an excruciating semester.

As we sat waiting for a Korean-only staff meeting to begin, I shared my high opinion of Stealth Korean with Chortle, who solemnly told me she (Stealth Korean) is "irreplaceable."  At first I thought this was simply the sort of platitude polite people reflexively offer when hearing praise for others, but Chortle went on to explain that she (Stealth Korean) is literally irreplaceable.  She'd been a real go-getter, launching and directing several extracurricular English activities, e.g. the 30-minute English Days I've written of, taking on significant extra work in the process.  Now none of the remaining teachers want to continue her programs and are battling to avoid shouldering the burden.  Chortle laughed nervously as she said, with a panicked flash of sclera, "It's a big problem!"

No comments:

Post a Comment