Open Class

Since arriving in Daegu, it seems like have heard about “open classes” constantly. An open class is a demonstration – a class that is open to outside evaluators from the Office of Education, other foreign teachers around the area, and any school administrators who want to watch. Every teacher (foreign and Korean) must have at least one open class per year.  Mine was today.

I found out two weeks ago that my open class would be today, but I could not bring myself to get worked up over it. I knew that it was a dog and pony show that is often scripted down to the word. Many of my friends’ coteachers have insisted on reciting the class ad nauseam like a theater piece. I was delightfully surprised to find that my coteacher seemed unaffected by the pressure…until last week.

We were required to email a lesson plan before Friday to the evaluator from the Office of Education who was slated to attend our class.  On Thursday afternoon, my coteacher for the open class (Ms. Shin) flipped her wig.  She told me that she was not comfortable with the lesson plan that I wrote (and she approved) the previous week.  I needed to rewrite it.  At first I refused, but I could tell that she was growing increasingly stressed, so I gave in and rewrote it.

I hoped that the weekend might help her calm down.  I was wrong. She wrote a script for her speaking parts, which accounted for about three minutes of the lesson.  When she tried to script my parts (in broken English), I had to put my foot down. Since she is younger than me and of equal rank, she couldn’t force me to do it (thank God).   I told her that everything would be fine, and that the only way this thing goes south is if she fails to pull herself together.

Ten minutes before the class started, while I was checking my email and texting a friend, she was reviewing her script and sweating like a whore in church.  She got so nervous that she began to stutter as she rehearsed.  When the evaluator arrived, she grabbed a bunch of tissues and stuck them in her pocket so the sweat wouldn’t cause her makeup to run during class.

Of course, the class went off like a dream.  The students became little angels and participated for the first time in three months.  I was shocked by how much they knew.  Some of the students who have literally never said a word in my class were speaking in complete sentences.  I put on a show, too.  I was loud, animated, and happy.  I got a little carried away and threw in some sarcasm, which went over like a fart in a diving suit.  Fortunately, they didn’t realize what I had done.

Anyway, it’s over.  Ms. Shin has finally stopped sweating, which means we must be in the clear.  According to Mr. Kim, we got an excellent evaluation.  I have a feeling that all teachers get excellent evaluations, but I’m certainly not going to bring that up while they’re all so happy.

Until next time.

-Taft

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