Monday, September 11, 2006

ziggin' and zaggin'

I've come to expect it from Korean management everywhere: zigs and zags. Last week, I was given my FroshEng schedule and told that my six hours of FroshEng per week had been upped to nine hours. Today, Monday, we discovered that another teacher, J, had been brought in over the weekend (the arrangement's a bit shady; the dude has worked with us before, and I think he's a personal friend of the supervisor), which apparently obviates the need for an extra hour of classes. Good for me, I suppose: I won't have do nine hours of FroshEng per week.

Originally, we four teachers had been scheduled to teach two hours per day on a MWF schedule-- one hour teaching one level, then switching over to a different classroom (and level) to teach a second hour. From the students' point of view, this would mean having two teachers. Because we are all team-teaching from the same textbooks, it was decided that one teacher should teach odd-numbered chapters while the other should do the even-numbered chapters. Because our supervisor didn't want to give her friend too much work to do, she decided to rearrange the schedule without telling the rest of us. Those of us who had already planned their calendars out a week in advance (and that would include yours truly) were incensed that we were quite suddenly being asked to change everything. How the hell can we be professional in such a situation?

As you might have guessed, I share one major trait with the Swiss: I hate surprises.

I plan. I'm methodical. The students in my classes receive a syllabus that details what we will be doing each day of the semester, which is exactly the sort of syllabus I used to receive from my profs in both undergrad and grad school. No surprises. Everything thought out. I consider that sort of preparation a mark of professionalism, which is why I ask how we can even be professional if one can't even plan a semester properly.

Today's comedy involved our supervisor going back and forth once she realized her rescheduling wasn't going over well with the faculty. She sent us a revised schedule, so I did the best I could to retype crucial handouts and photocopy them. Then, about an hour later, a second schedule revision occurred, at which point I made my feelings quite clear: this schedule should have been finalized a week ago. Although my supervisor said, Han Solo style, "Sorry for the mess," I wasn't in any mood to hear an apology. We are now back to the original schedule-- the one we received a week ago, but with the addition of Teacher J, our savior, the Lightener of Burdens. Our supervisor's reason for putting us all through this? "I thought it would be easier for the teachers this way." The fact is that she made all those changes to accommodate her friend: she admitted as much to a coworker of mine.

I think I've talked about this before on the blog: Koreans often have good intentions, but instead of simply asking somebody what they want, they guess. The results are almost always the same: confusion, crossed signals, and overall inefficiency. It would save time and make more sense to actually think through the teachers' schedules the first time around, formulate a solid plan by discussing the calendar with the teachers, and then have us all stick to that plan, making minor alterations if absolutely necessary.

God, I hope my schedule will still apply on Wednesday, when we have our second day of class. Perhaps I'll discover that I've been rescheduled to teach four French classes or something.


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