Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I have always been punctual. It is something I pride myself on. I would rather be 30 minutes early than 1 minute late for anything. A lack of punctuality on the part of someone is a sure way to raise my ire. Before I went to Korea I would always be at work around 15 minutes before my shift started. I was never one of those people who would show up at the last minute. It meant that I never had to rush.

I found myself showing up even earlier at my 1st job in Korea. It became my routine to be there when the doors opened at 6AM. Our first class was at 6:30. I would use this time to prep anything I needed, which rarely happened, drink coffee, and read the paper. It allowed me to actually relax before starting the day.

At my second and subsequent schools I would usually show up an hour before classes started. I would use my laptop to catch up on email, read some news from home, and anything else I needed/wanted while having coffee. If something was going on that the foreign teachers hadn't been told about, which happened WAY TOO OFTEN, I would sometimes find out about it then and not be caught completely by surprise.

When it comes to my punctuality, my time in Korea served me well. Now that I am home I find that I like to be at work 45 minutes to an hour before my shift starts. I can find out what has been going on, read the paper, drink my coffee, and catch up with co-workers. Sometimes I have even picked up an extra 30-60 minutes of work when they were short and would ask me if I could start right away.

Now if only more of my co-workers were punctual. Or even just on time.


  1. I was the same way. I learned to be early before I went to Korea, and I kept on with it after I got there.
    I sometimes arrived just as the doors were being unlocked. Before I learned how to teach, I needed all the prep time I could get.
    I always envied people who could rock up 5 minutes before class and teach just like that.
    But I digress.

  2. I found that those who did that successfully were the ones who had taught for a while. Others tended to just fail.

  3. I'm all for giving an honest day's work for an honest day's wage, but "I work to live" and not the other way around as the saying goes--even in South Korea.

    So, I really hate people who waste my time with a passion. Luckily, it didn't take my small hagwon's owners long to realize why I was missing all those mandatory after hours get togethers and to rectify their two biggest problems: last minute nonsense and punctuality.

    Every time I was told that there was a last minute meal, I would excuse myself as already having plans even when I may have not had any. And, every time that I showed up at a restaurant on time, and was always the only one for the first 30 minutes or so, I would just take off after first leaving a note with the cashier to give to my bosses informing them that I was there and not pleased to have been jerked around.

    After about the fourth time, they got the point. Since then, I have always been told of any plans at least a week ahead of time and now we leave directly after the last class instead of having people go their own ways for an hour or so and then expecting them to be able to show up on time later that evening.

    A lot of being able to get away with what I did in the beginning (and still do sometimes--tomorrow I was asked to come in for a few minutes, but I already had bicycling plans), is that I am a pretty decent and caring teacher, especially when compared to so many of my peers. When I heard about some of the garbage my predecessor pulled, it really turned my stomach (having the kids teach him Korean in class instead of teaching them English to impress his Korean girlfriend, pretty much calling in sick every Friday to spend more time with his girlfriend, and using the owners as his personal shuttle drivers on weekends to and from the grocery store and his gym which were onlya few blocks). But, no matter what, when it concerns the students, I will be there as I know my bosses will compensate me for any extra hours or expenses that I might have, and they know it too. I don't know of too many other native English teachers who have been given the keys to their academy to come and go when they as they need to or that can order books directly from the local English book stores on their boss's account.

  4. Nice to hear someone worked out the kinks John. My 3rd last school was like that. Worked out most of the problems, shit still happened but not often.

    The kids should be the priority. One problem I had with most schools was that money was their main priority. And for a lot of the teachers THEY were their main priority.

  5. A guy can be a decent, caring teacher and still get shit on by their bosses.
    I envy John and his situation.