Just to give a little context, when I first arrived at my school, they put me in the English Teachers’ office which was a classroom converted into an office on the second floor with the 1st grade classes. Five English subject teachers (my Korean counterparts), not including me, were sharing a space divided by half-size cubicles. The desks were practically connected and to my dismay, there was no desk for me except the dusty empty one on the other side of the room, sitting ostracized like the odd one out. There was no computer, textbooks, office supplies, or anything to make me feel like they knew I was coming. I felt pretty uncomfortable. I resigned myself to make the best of it anyway, put on a smile and work through it.
The next day I was a little happier to see that the ostracized desk was now fitted to be a part of the group and I was sitting with my co-teachers. I was told that I would get a computer that day and my co-teachers were nice enough to share their textbooks with me and show me what they were working on. Things were looking up.
Then, Jinae (my 5th grade co-teacher) asked me if I would like to see my classroom. I was confused. I had my own classroom? But all the other teachers had to go from class to class to teach. Jinae assured me that not only did I have my own classroom, but I most definitely had the best classroom in the whole school. This I had to see. I was not disappointed. Jinae explained to me that the Korean government is crazy about teaching English in the schools and invests lots of money to bring Native English Teachers (like me) to teach and have the best curriculum and materials.
This is my English Zone classroom…
In Korea, the kids have cubbies in the hallways so they can change out of their street shoes and put on “indoor shoes” for the school.
What topped off the experience was that the previous Native English Teacher left me a welcoming note, some tea and snacks, and a printout he found on another blog titled, “Necessary Reading for Survival in the Korean Public School System”. A lot of the info was invaluable!
Here’s my facebook post the day I discovered my “other” office:
Ohmigosh I just got shown my English Zone office/class where I have my own classroom with a smart board, it’s colorful and huge , state of the art everything!! I’m never leaving Korea!! Ever! Lol…so happy 🙂
…I’ll still feel that way! So, apparently I got really lucky by getting to teach in an English Zone classroom. I only know of 2 or 3 other EPIK teachers from my orientation that got placed in schools that had these. The arrangement is that I spend half of my time planning and using my desk with the co-teachers and the other half I can spend in the English Zone. I actually prefer to work with my co-teachers in the other office because of the comraderie so I spend most of my time with my co-teachers.