Do not under circumstances take a job at this "school". Though hesitant, I want to share my story so that people will know my experience and form their own opinion.
The school is run by a married couple who speak little to no English. Communication is frustratingly difficult because a Korean head teacher would have to translate my concerns into Korean and then the administration's response into English. Despite not having any English teaching experience himself, the husband would select the textbooks. He was not open to suggestions about the curriculum and was obsessed with completing as many textbooks as possible, even for the young 4 year old students! Teachers were constantly observed on CCTV, even when school was not in session. Administration was hellbent on knowing the private conversations between teachers and everyone felt the tension. The lack of trust was further illustrated when the male supervisor set up his office directly inside the teacher computer area. Despite the small size (literally a small corner), he wanted to listen in on conversations or watch our computer screens. Once, he yelled at two foreign teachers for speaking in Spanish (one of them was a native Spanish and English speaker), calling it disrespectful. It always was horribly awkward to have private meetings with him directly in front of other staff members.
As mentioned earlier, the Korean head teacher would serve as a liaison between Korean teachers, management, and foreign teachers. The wife treated each one horribly. Whenever one quit (three in one month), she would call their new employment and talk negatively about them. She never would change her behavior and expected everyone to meet her high expectations. Korean teachers had to dress and behave a certain way or face harsh punishment. In addition to management work (updating website, taking photos, calling parents, bus duty multiple times a day), Korean teachers would be made to stay late to help decorate for big events called Pink Day. The immense pressure caused multiple co teachers to quit, including mine so I was without a promised co teacher for four months. In fact, my co teacher quit because the supervisor called her at midnight on a Sat*r*ay to come to work. My co teacher's refusal resulted in her termination and nasty rumors were spread to the parents, making it difficult for her to find employment. Because of the absent teacher, I was forced to do double the work with zero help.
Foreign teachers did not escape completely unscathed. Outside of contract and unique to PINK Bus, we were asked to take the bus with students after a long day. The experience would be incredibly stressful since students would be antsy after classes. Unless you were lucky, the bus rarely stopped outside of the apartment complex and would drop you off at the nearest station, sometimes an hour away. Again, this time was off the clock and I would often arrive past my contracted time of 6:30PM. If you did not have to take the bus, teachers had to clean their classrooms and other parts of the school. We were given little prep time for the large amount of work require to run a successful classroom.
The boss liked to change the schedule frequently and without warning. We would have no time to prepare for newly scheduled classes . If we needed to go to the bank or the doctor, we would have to ask permission to leave, even if we had a scheduled break. We were only given twenty minutes to leave the building (Korean teachers didn't get a break period) and were scolded for going a minute over. They scheduled breaks so that you didn't have down time with co workers so there was no spirit of comradery among staff. Everyone was stressed to tears because of the awful working conditions.
The owners are incredibly cheap and do not want to spend money on necessary supplies. They try to cut corners whenever possible which is why teachers have to take the bus constantly or clean classrooms or meet with prospective parents. My students received new crayons at the beginning of the year but the administration refused to pay for new ones when most of the crayons were finished or went missing. I typically purchased dry erase markers and art supplies at the local dollar store so that my kids would be happy. The air conditioning in the building is broken and is "too expensive" to replace so students had to learn in stuffy, uncomfortable rooms. With sweat dripping onto their desks, it was nearly impossible to learn anything. We were given small fans or air conditioners, but these provided little relief especially since they broke so easily. Furthermore, n the teacher's workroom, there were only two working computers for eight teachers! Though we were made to eat lunch with our students, I would ask to work downstairs during lunch because it was the only opportunity to catch up. One of the few "perks" was that lunch was free and typically delicious.
As mentioned in another review, Wednesday is a designated fun day called "Pink Day". In no way was this day remotely fun. Unless the day was a test day (once a month), teachers had to plan crafts and lessons around the month's theme. These days were hard to plan because of frequent schedule changes, making it challenging to ask for supplies in advance. My co teacher and I always created crafts and games for our students, but it took a significant amount of work to make sure the day was successful. Foreign teachers had to MC events while Korean teachers took pictures to put on the website.
Pink Bus is obsessed with appearances and Korean teachers take carefully crafted photos so that parents believe their child is doing well, even if that is not the case. On report cards, we can not write anything less than positive, even if it is well intended advice or concerns. Instead of separating students based on ability level, students are separated by age so a first year 7 year old can be the same class as a three year 7 year old. The new students would feel discouraged and become disruptive in class, making it challenging to teach. Even worse, the rigid, misguided curriculum robbed children of their creativity and their natural joy for learning. The focus was always completing the textbook, not making sure the student was successfully comprehending the material. As a teacher, it was incredibly frustrating to force students to follow one learning strategy rather than encouraging their own unique abilities. During my last week of classes, my students had to sit in an incredibly small classroom and finish phonic pages (due to vacation or sickness) like little robots. It was heart breaking to see students so blatantly miserable and upset.
One of the most frustrating situations about Pink Bus was the uneven work load. Though I was hired for five year old class I was also made to teach the four year old students even though it was not in my contract and gave me an extra class. Each month I had to write nearly twenty report cards and prepare classroom materials for two classrooms, even when I did not have a co teacher. The workload was overwhelming and my health deteriorated. In addition to the daily phonics lessons for thirteen students (as oppose to the average six), I also had to prepare mathematics material for all five classes (40 students at one point). Even though I didn't have experience teaching ESL math, the director made me official Math teacher for Pink Bus. I had to prepare all the supplemental material and was constantly criticized for not having students complete more pages. Even though I came in to work a half hour before anyone else, I was told to work hard and that I was not doing enough. My best efforts were never recognized and it seemed that they always wanted to point out any "mistakes". The lack of help and support was exhausting and I would return home too tired to move.
The worst part of the experience was the horrible, abusive treatment I received from another foreign teacher. This teacher was determined to make my life as miserable as possible. The head teacher at the time helped me set up a bank account since the teller only spoke Korean. I also had to go to the doctor after getting a nasty sinus infection from the weather change. These two events caused her to snap and I was subject to verbal and emotional abuse on a daily basis for my one year contract. I could not ask for help from any of the other foreign teachers since she intimidated them into not speaking to me, a fact confided to me after the conclusion of one teacher's contract. Despite my efforts to make peace and even buying cookies//coffee, this teacher continued to slam her fists in front of me, send nasty messages to me and to other staff members, and forbid me from walking home with the other teachers. Once, a teacher started to walk home with me and was dragged away! If anyone talked to me, they had to tell this teacher the contents of the conversation. Another time, I had overslept and got to school late. I had to explain that my alarm died overnight and show my phone as proof since the teacher lied and told everyone I went to a coffee shop. Management did not want to lose a foreign teacher so I was made to endure the mistreatment the entire term of my contract. Never in my life have I encounter anyone as cruel and immature as this person. I experienced every type of mistreatment and could go on for days, but the bottom line is that management will not support you if you are experiencing a difficult, unfair situation. Rather than acting as upstanding professionals, I found myself in a "Mean Girls" scenario that not only threatened my well being, but made the work environment toxic and unhealthy for everyone.
At the end of my contract, Pink Bus begged me multiple times to extend my contract so that they could have more time to find a replacement. Even though I made it clear from the beginning I would not stay under any circumstances, staff pressured me daily to reconsider. As soon as I refused, staff resumed the terrible treatment. I had to move out of my apartment on the last day of my contract, even though other teachers were allowed to stay until their flight. Worse, my supervisor (the husband) did not tell me this directly, but rather my coworker who was moving in. I could keep my suitcases at the school but had to pay for a hostel in Itaewon. My final check and bonus check were deposited a day late. Even after my last day had past and I was no longer an employee a Korean teacher called me (25 times yes really) demanding that I return to Pink Bus to finish some already completed lesson plans. Though the supervisor told me to submit six months, the teachers wanted twelve. Fearing that I would not receive my pension or my belongings back, I worked on the other plans during my final day in Korea. I dropped off the plans when I picked up my belongings. The director promised I could stay in the former employee's (the one who tormented me) apartment since her move out day was two days earlier. Surprise, surprise the girl didn't move out (despite starting a new job). Luckily, I had a free night in a hotel airport and planned ahead. The job was petty and childish right until the bitter end.
If there is anything to take away from this review it is that the school is run by individuals who lack ethics, decency, and integrity. They are shallow, spineless people only concerned with making money. Your ideas, health, and beliefs are not valued and the school will exhaust you at every available opportunity. You won't find support with your fellow teachers. If you experience a hellish coworker, you need to deal with it on your own. Expect to work 10 hour days, getting your own materials, and being subject to constant schedule changes. None of your hard work will be recognized. They will kick you on your way out. Despite all of the hardships I experienced at Pink Bus, I am grateful that I was able to form wonderful relationships with my students. On my last day, I was able to sneak a goodbye message to the parents. I miss my class everyday, but I am so thankful to be out of that harmful environment. Please, do not support this school and its practices by signing on as a foreign teacher. Despite whatever promises they tell you, Pink Bus will never change.
DO NOT WORK HERE!
The location is between two of the most popular lines
Unless payment fell on weekend or holiday, pay was always on time
Apartment close walk to school
70,000 won apartment fee per month
Toxic work environment
too many to list
Advice to Management
Grow a spine
Stop watching CCTV and monitoring teachers during non class time
Allow teachers time after school to go to bank, doctor, coffee shop, etc
Improve the school by getting new tables, supplies, air con, etc. These are necessary expenses
Stop going through student textbooks without the homeroom teacher present
Treat your staff as people, not objects for you to ridicule
Encourage creativity by allowing teachers more flexibility in the classroom
Ensure an even as possible work load.
Do your part in creating and promoting a professional, positive work environment for everyone
Stop making suggestive comments to female employees
Keep a consistent schedule
Hire bus riders (which is cheap!) so that teachers have more time to prepare for class
Seocho-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea