Messages by Christopher
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The first time I went to Korea was for a private school. At the time, the pay was better, but the hours were longer. By the time I was finished work, I was tired, and I didn't have alot of time to just get to know and explore Korea. It is such a rich and beautiful country... it was really a tragedy.
Also, it's not uncommon for private schools to view contracts as 'rough guidelines' rather than something sacred written in stone. Expect work routines to change with little to no warning as the school adapts to different internal and external pressures. That said, you do have a little more flexibility in negotiating certain terms on your contract that are important to you. Don't feel pressured to jump on a contract unless you feel it is exactly what you need to be comfortable. You're going to the other side of the world in a totally foreign culture for the first time, so don't agree to something that you know will make you feel even more uncomfortable. Be firm, and expect a few schools to give up on the negotiations to find someone they can push around a little easier. If your demands are reasonable, and they are reasonable, they'll typically agree. If they don't you probably don't want to work for them anyways. Finally, I recommend having someone who has actually taught in Korea critically read any private contract you're offered, if you can.
Although ... if we are comparing, theres probably little in a public school contracts that you'll find unreasonable.
Also, especially for private contracts, you should insist on references from a couple former as well as curent instructors.
Also, working publicly, you'll never risk going unpaid, and in private schools, thats not always the case if they're under financial stress. Also, it IS a business, and sometimes businesses go bankrupt. After 5 months working at my first private school, they went out of business, and there I was scrambling to find a new place to live and new work (which luckily isnt hard to do in Korea... still, it's nice to take your time to decide).
Also, alot of private schools care more about the bottom line than whether or not the students are actually learning. It is a business after all. At a public school, you dont have to worry about being pressured to 'teach' in a way that isn't in the students best interests.
That said, private schools CAN be wonderful places to work. Some friends of mine went to work for a franchise running out of a few small towns on the southern coast, and they were treated incredibly well. It all comes down to how theyre being managed.
If you're looking for a public school contract, it might be worthwhile contacting the Korean embassy. Every once in a while they have information on programs being offered to recruit and place public school teachers. If you have any questions, feel free to email me, I'd be glad to help! email@example.com
Best of luck,