Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reader Question: Shifts/Hours

This one from Neil:
"Please forgive me if you have been asked this before, as you seem to have been asked everything, but what is your weekly schedule like, and how different is it from your colleagues/foreign friends? How many hours per week do you need to actually work to perform well? What kind of "shifts" do you have, even if they are self-imposed?"
Let me start with a basic overview of the jobs in Korea and the hours they require:
1. Public Schools.  The easiest to define, it's generally from 9-5-ish.  Add on a bit less, or a bit more to either side and you have it. 

2. Hagwons.  Kindy/elementary Hagwons generally require morning/afternoon shift.  Think 10-2, and 3-6.  Or, you could find one that is only kindy and work something like 9-3.  Non-Kindy Hagwons generally require 6-8 hours, starting at around 2 or 3 and going until 8 or 9.    Adults hagwons have terrible split shifts, like say from 6-9am and 6-9pm.    

3. Unis.  Hard to define a set-schedule.  Most places schedule classes only 4 days/week, but that's not always the case.  Some days, I'm busy and on the go from 9:30-6:30 with only brief breaks in between but then on other days, I only have 1, 1.5 hour class.  It's just kind of luck of the draw in terms of schedules and it changes from semester to semester.  Last semester, I worked night classes 2 nights a week, which was kind of annoying, but that's life.  And, if you do only the basic hours set by your uni (12-18), your life will be pretty relaxed.  It's the OT that brings in the real money, but also the stress of dealing with a million classes and more prep, and different expectations, etc.  Some semesters, I've done up to 15 hours of OT/week and my life was insanely busy.

By way of example, here was my schedule this semester (15 regular hours +8 OT hours). 

Monday: 10:30-12, 2:10-5:30
Tuesday: 9:30-3:40 (no breaks!)
Wednesday: 10:30-1:40, 2:55-4:35
Thursday: no classes
Friday:10-2 (Usually prep +paperwork time),  2:10-5:30

I spent minimal time on prep this semester, say 2 hours/week.  That's only because I've taught all the books a few times before and saved all the lesson plans.  If I was using a book for the first time, I would spend around 8 hours/week or more on prep.  Admin paperwork generally takes me an hour/week. 

As for grading, some people spend days on in, for me it takes about 10 minutes/class since I do only speaking tests and I've been inputting grades all semester and have it on Google Spreadsheets.  Same with admin I guess.  It seems like some of my coworkers are always outrageously busy doing busywork and various things for their classes, reinventing the wheel or something like that.  Others, like myself prefer to work smarter, not harder. 

As you can see, this question is kind of complicated!  And there really is no definite answer.

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