How to Make Your EPIK Job Awesome #4 – Participate in Your School
This is the 4th part in a 5 part series about how to make your EPIK job awesome! Being an active participant in your school and having a good relationship with your coteacher(s) is so important. I really can’t stress this enough!
Make an Effort
This one may be the most controversial, because obviously people are different with different personalities, and what I say here is not a rubric for having a great relationship with your coworkers. It is always difficult building a good rapport with someone from a different culture in a work environment. We all have different expectations about what we’re doing here. It may be even more difficult depending on your age or gender and how that effects social situations in Korea. But no matter what, you should make an effort with your coworkers. A big effort. Eat lunch with your coworkers every day, find common interests, learn and study Korean, and let them know you are, hang out with them after lunch if possible, and bring in pastries or fruit into the office every once in awhile!
Take Part in School Activities
Another way to fit in at your Korean school is to participate in all of the school events! There are so many opportunities to do this–from Sports Days and field trips, to judging contests and cheering on your students at competitions! Every school is different but I know these events are all pretty similar at public schools. A regular thing that would be good to get involved in is Weekly Volleyball. Most public schools have a weekly “staff bonding” time where they play volleyball in the gym together. While it can be embarrassing for some (ME! haha) if you’re good at volleyball you’ll be the PE teacher’s new best friend. Local schools also compete, so be prepared to travel to other schools for games as well. Even though I don’t play, when I’m not busy I make it a point to go to some matches and cheer on my coworkers! They always have good snacks there if you need another incentive to go!
In your first year, you won’t know a lot of what is going on at the school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ask how you can get involved! When you hear that students are going on field trips, ask if you can go along! (My school has always said no to this, but I keep hoping!) If you have an idea for an after school club, run it by your coteacher! It never hurts to ask, and asking questions like these makes you seem eager and enthusiastic about your job. To give some personal examples, my first year I joined our after school ukulele club. I had just started learning myself, so I joined with some 3rd grade students once a week. I learned and practiced my Korean, and had some small group bonding with my students–it was a blast! My newest hobby is playing board games after a board game cafe opened in my town. I asked if I could have a board game club this year and it was approved! Now I will be in charge of 2 different classes and it counts as my minimum teaching hours. I’m super excited about that. Be yourself and try to incorporate things that interest you into your school life. If you are excited about something your students and coteacher will be too.
I think above anything else, your relationship with your coworkers is the thing that makes or breaks your experience as an EPIK teacher in Korea. Don’t separate yourself even more than you already will be by not going to meetings, social outings, dinners, etc. Be approachable, flexible, and be willing to help.
If you want to hear more, watch the video! Also feel free to ask any questions by leaving a comment here.
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