How NOT to Lose your Job in a Korean University

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how not to lose your job
How NOT to lose your Korean university job

Over my years working in Korean university, come contract renewal time, I’ve seen plenty of people bite the dust for various things. However, all these reasons can be boiled down to “professionalism,” or lack thereof. Just think about it this way: it’s basically your job to keep as long as you’re a reasonably competent person and it’s more about how NOT to lose your job.

Look the Part

I have coworkers who wear jeans or cargo-shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap to class. In a land where appearance is everything, this is the fastest way to not be respected by your students, or your bosses. Even if you think that your boss works on the other campus and she’ll never find out, trust me, many Koreans on campus will know who you are, even if you don’t know them.

Lay Low

Don’t stir up trouble and just spend your time flying under the radar. Try to have no negative contact with your bosses. The fastest way to get fired at my uni is to start accusing the other foreigners of things, so that the Koreans have to deal with stuff they’d rather not get involved with. UNDER THE RADAR!

The other part of this is to volunteer for some extra things, especially the ones that won’t cost you too much in the way of time and effort. For example, reviewing some textbooks for the upcoming semester. It might take you an afternoon to do this.

You don’t want to fly under the radar for the positive stuff!

Go to Work Social Activities

That said, you should be sure to attend any and all work social activities such as dinners. I mean, I always had a really fun time at them because who doesn’t like free food and drink, right? I sure do.

But, some people would skip them for whatever reason. The result? Our bosses didn’t really know them at all, and if cutbacks ever came around, I have a feeling that these ghosts would likely be the first ones to get the cut.

NEVER Cancel Classes

The other fastest way to get fired is to cancel classes. Yes, people do check and so unless you’re actually sleeping overnight in the hospital, you should do as the Koreans do and come to class. At least put in a token 30 minutes, take attendance and then send the students on their way.

Make Your Classes Awesome

Plan for your classes and make them interesting, helpful and fun. Student evaluations really do matter. Speaking of awesome classes, check out ESL Speaking Activities for Adults. Or, this book filled with interesting, engaging and student-centered ESL speaking activities: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults.

You can check out this short video below for more details about putting your students at the centre of the class, exactly where they should be!

Be Careful with Social Media

Watch what you do online on sites like Facebook with regard to saying bad things about your students, university or coworkers. Yes, people really do check. And yes, people have certainly gotten fired over things they did online.

At my first university, one of my co-workers went on Facebook and started doing all kinds of crazy things like calling his students stupid and saying other disrespectful things about them. He didn’t get his contract renewed.

Boundaries: Get Some!

Have appropriate boundaries with your students. You are their teacher, not their friend. Never have physical contact and even avoid being alone in your private office with a student. NEVER invite students over to your house and if you go out for dinner or coffee, be sure there is a group of at least 4 or 5 students.

Have your Say about How to Not Lose your Job in a Korean University

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