Sunday, November 23, 2014

Life on the inside: what working at a Korean University is really like. Part 1: schedules

teaching English Korea schedule
Korean University Schedules

Thanks to my friend "E" for the suggestion of this series about what working at a Korean University is really like with the students, classes, administration and other various things.  I'm going to kick it off with schedules, or what my days basically consist of.

If you work at a fabulous university, your schedule will consist of only 3-4 days/week of teaching.  You may even get a long weekend like me, this semester since I get Friday off (however that was due to my own scheming and the kindness of one of my coworkers).

A lot of people end up having classes 5 days/week, but even this isn't really terrible since it will usually only consist of either mornings (9-1 for example), or afternoons (1-5 for example) and not both.  Your actual teaching hours will be around 12-15/week, so you'll have plenty of time for grading and admin and other general duties related to the job.  The best places try to give you a block schedule which means that you'll teach for 3-4 hours back-back instead of a split shift kind of thing where you have large breaks within your day (4 or 5 hours).

Generally, you don't have a lot of say over your schedule, although both my previous and current unis have been amenable to requests, like when I needed Tuesday and Thursday morning off to do the Celta course, or switching a class with my coworker to not work 5 days/week.  Some places do the seniority thing, where the longest serving teachers get first pick of schedules, but that seems like a lot of hassle and it's not that common I think.

I personally don't really care about my schedule that much since I have a nice, semi-private office (with 2 other people) and my own computer.  As a bonus, it even has a phone, heating and air-con as well as wicked fast Internet which is definitely a better set-up than I have at my own house.  If I have a 4 or 5 hour break, I'll just do lesson planning or grading and work on my online ventures, such as this blog or my recent book about University Jobs in Korea.

The worst possible scenario related to schedules is 5 days/week but with only something like 9 or 10 teaching hours, which means that you'll end up coming into work and teaching only 1-2 hours a day.  If you have a 5 minutes commute like I do, it's not terrible but many of my coworkers come from the other end of the city (1-1.5 hours) so for them it's not ideal.  You can sometimes salvage this by trying to pick up some overtime during the days, which is readily available at my uni, but that's a bit of an anomaly.

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