Long time, no post! Sorry, folks.
I had thought of doing this post for almost as long as I’ve been here, but I didn’t feel is was right to do it until now. This is mostly because I wasn’t sure if it was right to write about my workplace while I was there. But now I just want to get some of this info out there for any future teachers at DETI.
Let me bring you back to right when I arrived in Korea. I was at the EPIK training in Jeonju, and I received a message on Facebook from a person in Daejeon. Basically the gist of the message was, “Hello. I believe you’re going to be coming to my workplace as a new teacher”. Now, we hadn’t heard our school placements at that point (you don’t find out untll the end of training). I was curious, so I looked up the school which had the curious name of Daejeon Educational Training Institute. There really isn’t anything in English about the place save for one ‘review’ of sorts written by a disgruntled ex-employee. I’m not going to even bother linking it because it’s just rather depressing and full of malice. I don’t know if things were as bad as the person described, or if he just had a falling out and was pissed off. So I’ll try to describe my experience as best I can for any future teachers going to DETI.
At EPIK training they tell you you’ll most likely be placed in an apartment near your school. Once your school placement is given you get a packet and a map. So all of us newbies gathered around and tried to figure out where we were going. Were all of us going to be very from from each other, and all that. I was crushed and panicked to see that I couldn’t find my school anywhere on the map. “Oh God, what if I’m out in the boonies?” I just about started crying, which one friend still teases me about to this day. A search on Google Maps showed me if was on the edge of Daejeon, technically in Gongju (the next city over), along the mountain range.
However! Do not despair, young one. I ended up in a building with my fellow EPIK teachers from the institute. There’s a shuttle bus that starts from the DMOE and makes a couple other stops before ending up at DETI. From my former place in Wolpyeong-dong the bus ride was around 30-35 minutes depending on traffic. Do not miss that bus! It’s the only one, and if you miss it it’s an awfully long commute via public transport. It happened to me, but I was lucky since we had no camp to teach that week. Otherwise it’s about 20-30,000 won taxi ride, or 60+ minutes via subway/bus.
There are 3 sections at DETI: English camp, camping department, and teacher training. The teacher training is, duh, for training teachers. There’s 4 native English teachers on that side, but they aren’t hired through EPIK. The camping department is for Koreans only. It’s for students to come and stay over, do team building, and all that. The English camp was where I was placed. There are 5 Korean teachers, and 4 non-Koreans. There are also supervisors that head different sections of camps.
You help teach one of 3 camps: English, Dream Up, and Leadership. Kids are bused in on Monday, stay over the whole week, and leave Friday (actually one camp is shorter but I can’t remember if it’s Dream Up or Leadership). Since the kids stay overnight someone has to watch them in the evening. About 2 years before I came it used to be that 1 Korean and 1 non-Korean teacher stayed overnight in the dorm with the students. Crummy, right? Now only the Korean teachers take turns. You will, however, have to stay late 1 night until about 9 PM. A bit annoying, but you get over-time pay so not all bad.
Teachers rotate leading different classes except for your theme class. You’re usually paired up with your co-teacher as well. So basically you’re doing the same thing over-and-over all year. It’s not every week though. Sometimes you’ll have 2-3 weeks of camps and then a few weeks of desk warming. You go from being very busy to having too much free time. Find a hobby, study, fix classes, whatever, or it’s going to be mind-numbing.
Dream Up is for disadvantaged students. Leadership is for top students/class presidents, and is not led by the non-Korean teachers.
I was pretty lucky to have 3 other native teachers with me. We all hailed from different countries, and they were very supportive. Because of cultural differences it’s just nice to have someone who may understand where you’re coming from.
The other 5 Korean teachers were also quite nice, in my case. There are 4 co-teachers, 1 head teacher. Everyone spoke excellent English and were willing to help us out when we needed it (things like housing, paying bills, etc.). I had 2 co-teachers during my 2 years there.
There’s also 3 supervisors though just 1 is in charge of the English Camp. We had 3 English Camp supervisors during my time there. The 1st was quite nice and pretty hands-off. We were sad to see him go. The 2nd was, honestly, a nightmare. Very controlling and not always nice to the Koreans. He would say one thing to the native teachers, and then be very demanding/authoritative to the Koreans. We called him Napoleon. I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say he wasn’t well liked. The 3rd was better than his predecessor, though he didn’t very much like being at DETI (possibly an unwanted transfer). However, still way better than the previous guy.
It’s always a bit of a crapshoot for who you’ll be working with, but I guess you just gotta go in with a positive attitude. After all, you’re all going to spending a lot of time together. It’s best to be on good terms with everyone.
Cafeteria food is bad. Just… blah. I highly suggest bringing a lunch.
Go hiking after lunch or something when you don’t have to teach. I should have done it a bit more. The scenery is quite beautiful, so enjoy it.
Doing the same thing over-and over gets a bit old after awhile. Try to revise and improve your classes to keep ’em fresh.
You have to teach the theme and drama classes all year. Since they are your very own classes then pick something you enjoy. When I finally made my own class I taught about superheroes, and my drama was for “Legend of Zelda”. I also had “Monty Python & The Holy Grail” though I was given that originally. Just pure luck that I enjoy that movie very much. 🙂
So honestly it’s no where near as bad as that awful review says it is. Take it with a grain of salt. This is kind of true of just about any school, but with the exception of just having bad co-workers or some such situation then you kind of make the mood for your work time.
I hope all future teachers had as nice a time as I did. Even down the line, whether I’m in Korea or not, feel free to drop a comment or message my way. I can’t guarantee things will be the same as when I was there, but I’ll do my best to give you the info you seek.
Happy day, friends!