Are you a new teacher in Korea?
When you are a new teacher in Korea in a school as anywhere else, the students will test you to see how much they can get away with. So it is important to set the tone the first days of class. Not only that the faculty will also be analyzing you to get to know and to a certain extent to confirm certain things about your personality and to grant you the proper respect.
Because hierarchy is important here in Korea you will be asked a lot of personal questions as well to better place you in the proper place in this hierarchy. For instance the first day I was asked:
- Are you married?
- How old are you?
- When do you plan on getting married?
- Do you have a girlfriend?
- Why did you come to Korea?
But don’t be alarmed by this. It’s a cultural thing. So be patient and answer them politely and it’s okay if you don’t want to; however, you might create a bad impression about yourself. Even with all the excitement of being in a new country and the changes that you will make and experience, you must remember to do these five things the first week you arrive at your school.
5 things you must do as a new teacher in Korea and why
1. Establish a level of authority
This is for your classroom and for your sake. Because like I said, students will want to test to see if you are a weak Teacher they can take advantage of.
Create class rules for your classes on the first day of class; i.e, no speaking Korean, no walking around during class etc.
2. Be calm and composed
Being calm and composed sends the message that you have been in this type of situations before and therefore have experience. This will lessen them trying to test you even though they will try. Even after teaching for a while, never lose your cool. If you let your students know that you can lose it, they will push your buttons more.
3. Be consistent
Be consistent in your mood, method and in your dress style. How you look is important as a new teacher in Korea because teachers have a very high position in society. Be consistent in your disciplinary actions too, if you punish a student for something or reward one student for something make sure you are doing it for others. They will respect you more.
4. Be firm and fair
Be firm with your rules but fair. You are in charge and they look to you for guidance as their leader. You will lose respect quick if they feel you are not fair and if they think they can walk all over you.
Make a great effort in establishing good relationships. Good relationships with your staff and students will take you a long way. Koreans remember when you do them a favor and the will go out of their way to return that favor. My co-teacher and I are like best friends and I can’t even begin to talk about all the many ways she has helped me after arriving in Korea. One night when I had a stomach virus she drove to the hospital at midnight to seat with me and see how I was doing.
It can be tough teaching and living abroad and Korea is no exception. Follow the guidelines above and make your transition a lot less stressful. And that’s why we are here, we are Teachers helping Teachers 🙂