In America, midterm week is one of the busiest weeks for teachers. Not only do teachers have a crazy amount of grading to get done in a very short amount of time, they also have to get final grades entered and add comments for each student.
Well, this week is midterm week for my students in Korea, and it's been quite a different story. Midterms thus far have essentially entailed me sitting at my desk from 9-12:30, eating lunch, and going home. Today I was sitting at my desk and around 12:45 my co-teacher came over to my desk and asked if I had plans for the afternoon. I said I did not, and she told me that "Usually after the exams teachers go home. In your case, maybe not, but if the Principal or Vice-Principal ask you just say you have plans for the afternoon. If not, just say nothing." In other words, she told me to lie to the principal if he mentioned anything, and otherwise just don't bring it up.
I mean, I appreciate her letting me go home--not all EPIK teachers are so lucky. It's common to hear EPIK teachers discuss "deskwarming." Our EPIK contract specifies a certain amount of weeks and hours we have to be at school, regardless of whether or not we have any work to do. In fact, there will be times when we have to go to school while everyone else is on vacation. I've heard plenty of stories about EPIK teachers going into school when there is literally no one else in the building but them....just because their contract says they have to be IN school a certain amount of hours.
I have been enjoying this week, nonetheless. It's an easy week for me, which I will not complain about, especially since the regular school weeks are so stressful. Now, I'm sure the other teachers have more responsibility than I do (grading is not typically a part of an EPIK teacher's responsibilities), but the majority of their exams are multiple choice, so the teachers typically just run the exams through a scantron and their grades are done.
We did have a few short answer questions on our exam, so I think I will eventually end up grading those? But still, nothing compared to the HOURS I used to spend grading last year. I don't think I can even begin to count the hours I spent on my Sunday afternoons and nights sitting in Panera, attempting to make a small dent in grading....
All in all, not a bad week. We don't have school tomorrow because it's a Korean holiday, and then Friday after school I'll be heading to Chuncheon (a city in a northern province) for the weekend. Can't wait!