Its been about a month since I accepted the new job but I still have another two before I can leave my Hagwon. Things here continue to spiral downwards and reinforce my decision to leave as soon as possible. I’ve collected a few anecdotes over the last weeks to illustrate how things have continued to deteriorate.
I. Starting to Feel Like a Police State
Last week my principal abruptly called me into her office. I saw my coteacher leaving and sat down as I pondered why she needed to talk to both of us. She asked if a fellow teacher had spoken to me today.
That’s strange, I thought to myself. Yeah (insert coworker’s name here) stopped in to let me know she “name dropped” me in a previous meeting where my resignation had been discussed. She apologized and it was over right?
I thought about how to respond when I realized they have CCTV; suddenly my mind did a double take. I had just finished reading The Hunger Games and wondered if this is what it feels like to be under constant surveillance like Panem, 1984, or some other police state. Well, I saw no reason to hide our minimal conversation so I told her.
“Yeah, (insert coworker’s name here) stopped by my room. I was teaching and she mentioned that she spoke to you about an incident the previous day.”
My principal went on to give me details about the incident which were omitted by my coworker. She told me how a parent had considered removing their child from the school and then asked me how I felt about it. That’s a strange question from your new boss. I assumed she was trying to ascertain if I would cause an incident that might make her lose students. I assured her that I had no intention of causing any problems before she asked me the most shocking question.
“Do you think I did the right thing? You know, with (insert coworker’s name here)? I mean I had to do something right? I’m the director. Did she need more discipline?”
Wait. Hold up a minute. Is my new principal (who I told I was leaving the school 2 weeks after her first day) asking me for advice? I felt incredibly uncomfortable about her divulging information from private conversations with my friend and parent of a student that I am in no way involved with. I thought she was being unprofessional but, she’s my boss, so I answered as candidly as possible.
“I’m not an administrator, but yes, it is your job to handle situations that arise. I can’t comment on what actually happened and any intent that may or may not have been present. To the best of my knowledge the teachers all do their best to keep the students and parents happy.”
We continued talking a little longer but the conversation kept going in circles. I was getting annoyed since she already kept me from doing anything productive during my only prep that day. I’m don’t know how a meeting could have been worse without anything bad actually happening to me; I excused myself to go teach.
II. A Second Strange Encounter