|I spent of years teaching and learning in South Korea. When I arrived I believed I could bring my understanding of good teaching to the Korean classroom. I was wrong. It was like hitting a brick wall how wrong I was. How I learned is completely different than how a 7 year-old Korean boy learning a 2nd language does. I also learned that cultures learn differently. The Socratic method of learning in the west is almost incompatible with the Confucius method of rote memory, testing, transmission, and where age plays a huge part. I had to find a way to teach to 7 year-olds and 27 year-olds that could bridge what I believed, but was also familiar to what they were used to. To be honest, I never perfected it but I didn’t consistently try to employ new methods or improve upon successful strategies. And I think that is a strategy that I would use in my management of a classroom: trial and error. A lot of my time during my first years in the classroom to come will be heading back to the drawing board to revamp and re-try. I’d be a fool to think that what I believe now as good classroom management could work for every student in every class.
In Korea I also witnessed the hours and effort Korean students put in. Most middle and high school students study 6 days a week for a minimum of 10 hours a day. I understand it, but I do not agree with it. Korea is not blessed with a huge land mass or tonnes of minerals, oil, or tracts of woodland. Their people are their resources and they have to be the smartest in the world if they want to raise themselves ever higher. I do not think after hour 6 most of these students are actually retaining anything, but they are far more advanced in the maths, sciences, and languages than Canadian students. Witnessing this made we believe that we do not push our students hard enough and sometimes coddle them too much. I think our students are not reaching their potential, but can. I hope to have a classroom that encourages students to put in that little extra because there are people around the world who want what we have and are working hard for it. That is not to say that time outside of the classroom will not play a part in my management plan. I believe in the motto of ‘work hard, play hard’. Exercise and social time is important. For me, it is my balance. It keeps me level and moving forward. Coaching teams and encouraging my students to get involved in them is also good management in my mind.