CCTV in the classroom- pros and cons

The first thing I thought when I heard we were getting CCTV in all the classrooms was that the parents could access it and every day would turn into our very own drama. Thankfully, only the boss has access but it got me to thinking about the pros and cons of having cctv in the classroom. Before I talk about the whether it’s a good idea for my school, let’s take a look at some of the general pros and cons.

Pros;

1. Can prevent bad behavior- If the students know they are being watched, they might be better behaved. This might prevent bullying and intimidation. It can also prevent inappropriate behavior from teacher’s/ care givers.

2. Accidents- If a child gets hurt, the footage of the reason/cause can be seen.

3. Teachers-  Can use footage to improve on classroom management, problem areas etc. Teacher evaluations can be done using video footage.

4. Parents- feel more secure knowing that the classrooms are being constantly monitored.

5. Security- Students and teachers possessions are secure.

6. Protection- Teachers and students can be protected from false accusations.

 


 

Cons

1. Privacy- One could argue that CCTV in the classroom is an infringement of both the student’s and the teacher’s privacy.

2. Trust- Installing CCTV sends a clear message that no trust exists between the principal and teacher and between parents and school.

3. Performance- Constantly being watched might affect a teacher’s performance.

4. Parents- Turns already picky parents pickier.

5. While it might prevent bad behavior, it might also just encourage students to take their bad behavior to areas not accessed by camera.

6. Can lead to a “guilty until proven innocent” attitude.


We’ve all heard the horror of children and teachers being mistreated at schools around the world. It happens. Everyone has their own opinion on whether a school should have cameras installed. This blog looks at my situation here in Korea.

I work in a Korean Kindergarten that takes children from Korean age 4 (western age 3) to age 7 (6). In September, it looks like we’ll open a 3 year old class. We have over 100 students over 2 floors so that makes for a lot of little people walking around at any one time.

Parents tend to be extremely picky here. Everything from the condition of the chairs in the classroom to the temperature we set the air con to is questioned by one parent or another.

With this many students, accidents happen. The younger classes have an assistant in the classroom with the teacher at all times but even that isn’t enough to prevent a child falling or a fight or whatever. No matter how small the injury though, we are always the first ones blamed.

For this reason, I believe CCTV in the classrooms at our school can be a good thing. Parents can come in, see the footage and the situation can be solved faster than it could have been previously without the cameras.

New parents are put at ease when they discover the classrooms have cameras so it encourages them to send their children to our school over another.

One of our classes has also turned into a fight club this year. It’s very difficult to get through the class without at least one fight starting. For whatever reason, the children are woefully behaved in that particular class but when the teachers complain, the parents can’t possibly believe that their little angel could be capable of the things we’re had to witness.

Now, with CCTV, we can show them exactly what happened and hopefully do something to stop the bad behavior.

The cameras are only picture, no sound. If a parent was to review footage, they can only judge on the physical actions and this can be interpreted differently. One could argue that their child only behaved in a certain way because they were verbally provoked by another student.

However, most of the teachers feel that installing the cameras screams that the boss doesn’t trust us and as a result the atmosphere could be cut with a knife around here. Everyone is afraid to do anything close to fun for fear that it would be seen as a negative thing and used against them.

The school has turned into Big Brother. The second you walk off the elevator, there are cameras. The only place minus a camera are the bathrooms, the corridors and classrooms are all monitored. This is a great thing for keeping the children, the teachers and all our possessions safe. It also acts to deter any thieves etc that might be hanging around.

On the other hand, privacy is something that doesn’t exist here, neither does trust. At the end of the day, while this is a kindergarten, it’s also a business and money is the bottom line. My boss will do anything to keep a child here, I’ve seen that before. Parents don’t particularly trust us, and head office haven’t trusted us since day 1.

We’re only a week into this so I’m still on the ledge about whether this Big Brother style school is more good or bad.

*Everything in this post is my own opinion*

If you want to share your, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

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A day in the life of Shauna.

The alarm rings and I turn it off. The next alarm rings and I do the same. Five alarms later, I decide to get up. It’s 7.30am and the start of a whole new day. I’m up and ready, eating my breakfast by 8ish. I spend the next 30 minutes watching whatever English programme happens to be on tv at that time of the morning.  These days it’s usually Poirot or Miss. Marple. At what is supposed to be 8.30am but in reality is 8.40am , I leave my apartment and head to school. The journey takes just 20 minutes in my car, Spuddy.

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Classes start at 10.10am but the teachers are all there for 9am. I use this time to prep for the day but mostly I use it to think of little games we can play at the beginning of class.  Classes in my school are only 25 minutes long so I try to play one game with each class before doing book work. The curriculum is made for me so I know what I have to do in each class.   It’s also a good time to say hello to the children and since there’s always a drama at school, I can hear all about it during this time. I teach children from Korean age 4 to Korean age 7.  Let me describe to you the sounds you hear from the staff room in the morning.  Imagine a child still using their outdoor voice and multiply this by 50. Then throw in a crying child and two fighting children and you have a good idea of the chaos here in the morning time. To be fair, once we get over the initial “I’m at school again” shock and excitement, they calm down.

The day goes from 10.10am first class to 2.30pm all classes over. Then there’s a special 40 minute class from 2.40pm to 3.20pm and then desk warming until 5pm. My school isn’t an English kindergarten it’s a Korean one so the children all speak Korean except to me where I make them speak English. If there’s ever a way to improve your Korean, it’s work at a school like this.  I’ll never forget the first few months I worked here. My Korean was pretty basic so when a child asked me to go to the bathroom, I would have no idea what they said and would spend a long while looking them up and down trying to decide from their general posture what the matter was! Like all things in Korea, it was a learning experience.  They learned to use hand signals and I learned how to speak better Korean. With the exception of 3 teachers, the majority of teachers here don’t speak English so if I want to report an incident in the classroom or talk about a student, it’s done in Korean or Konglish.

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Since this is a day in the life, lets take my Monday. Class schedule looks like this; 7yr, Free, 6yr, 6yr, Lunch, 5yr, 4yr, Free, Special Class.

The seven-year olds are a great class to start with. We talk about the weekend, we do some book work and then they play a quiz game similar to hangman where they have to guess the letters. These days they’re actually getting really good at guessing the words. I’ve had to turn those words into sentences and today they got the sentence ‘ I had a banana and bread for breakfast” before their lives ran out.  The class is brilliant. They make up their own English and speak to each other in this unique language “Robin, this eat no don’t do that not so good” Great effort and great use of all the key sentences I use.  The class leader also disciplines them and I love to watch how the whole thing works.

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Sixes are a different story. Some of them have never learned English and some of them have not only been learning English since they were 4 but they have home tutors.  This makes for an interesting class, every class.  The dynamic is often fragile as the faster students pick on the slower ones. I start all their classes with a game that involves easy vocabulary like colours or animals to level the playing field but sometimes that doesn’t work. Today we’re talking colours and one (there’s always one) says dinosaur.  The game is over. Book time and yes there is one for everyone in the audience ( I really do say that). Best thing about sixes is that they aren’t afraid to give themselves praise.  They spend the class pointing to their work going “teacher, good job, good job”(not a question, a statement)

Lunch on a Monday is the calm before the storm. The five and four-year old classes on a Monday are the worst. The fives are so unpredictable. I never know what they’ll be like. I try singing and they look at me like I’m crazy. I try a game but they don’t get it so I go straight to book and they don’t want to do that either. So it’s a terrible waste of a class.

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Awful, shocking and now to finish the day on a low note is the four-year olds. Of the three 4-year-old classes in my school, these are the worst. The first 6 weeks, they spent every English class crying hysterically when I entered the room. I didn’t even say anything. Now it’s May and only one of them hysterically cries. He gets so upset that he’s not only crying but sobbing uncontrollably to the point of almost vomiting.  These days he’s taken out before I arrive which calms things somewhat. The other students have been bribed to not cry by the homeroom teacher. So finally the class begins. By this time it’s 1.30pm and these poor little children are so tired. We sing a song and they don’t react in any way. So we sing it again, with a little more enthusiasm and only one joins in. Enough with that, I take out the book we’re supposed to be “reading”. Except by reading , I mean looking at the pictures and learning single words and making appropriate noises. So, the frog goes rweeebbuddd and I jump up and down, which also gets no reaction. The same goes for the elephant, the cat, the snake and the fish. One child has fallen asleep. One is engrossed in the contents of her nose and the other is just staring into space.

Snack time followed by special class.  Special class today is for the 7 year olds and I only have two. We turn on the computer and the material we’re using have a special programme of interactive activities. That’s how they spend the first 15 minutes. Then t’s book time.  The book is pretty difficult for students who don’t learn English all day so it’s a slow process. Today, I want to jump out the window. The activity is a comparison of the two stories and they have to tell me the differences. Except they don’t see any so I try to hold back the frustration. Eventually, we find 3 differences and manage to write them down correctly so it’s not a completely wasted effort after all.

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The final hour of the day is spent chillaxing in the English room (above).  The children have all gone home so I take in the rare moment of silence.  This is when the weekly report gets done or any preparation is completed. But usually I catch up on whats happening around the world.

For your entertainment, this is what happens on the first day of term when no students show up to class…..https://www.facebook.com/540988015/timeline/2013#!/photo.php?v=10151324946708016

This blog is dedicated to Brian Healy and Edel Feely. The coolest followers I have. Thanks guys and keep the suggestions coming!

The “not so positive” things about teaching in Korea

I got a comment on my blog today about a post I did on Paju and teaching in Paju.  The person wrote that “it was the most positive thing I’ve read so far”. Hearing this makes me happy that my experiences are encouraging other, but it also got me to thinking that I should do a blog about the “not so positive” things about teaching in Korea.

I don’t want this to be negative, just things that you should think about.  Because when you come to Korea, it’s not all sunshine and roses, especially at the beginning, so you should think about these things first.

1. You are just “the foreign teacher” to your school;  Many people think that when they get here, they’re going to be a big deal in their school.  In some cases maybe this is true but in most cases it’s not.  Many schools, especially the hagwons only hire foreign teachers because it’s more impressive to the parents.  An English education by a native speaker is seen as better than if taught by a Korean.  And remember, if your school is established enough chances are that you are just one in a whole line of “foreign teachers” that they’ve been through.

2. We do things differently here; Schools in Korea do things differently to schools back home.  The education system is different.  How the schools treat their teachers is different.  The students are different.  So instead of getting frustrated and angry that things here are not the same as at home, just remember, it’s different.

3. You will never understand what the other teachers are saying, even if you know they are talking about you;  You will go to meetings that are in Korean, go on teacher outings where everyone speaks Korea, listen to a parent complain about something to you…..in Korean.  Even now I don’t understand what the teachers are saying.  It’s just the way it is.  Personally, I usually think it’s a great thing because then I don’t have to worry about giving my opinion or defending myself and my teaching.

4. Parents think their child is the only child you teach; This is technically the same as point 2.  The parents are different.  At my school, we just had a mother, complain to a home room teacher for 11/2 hours about everything.  And I mean everything, like a bit of dirt on the teachers apron and that her child’s chair wasn’t the prettiest and how, even though the mother was complaining, the teachers shouldn’t treat her child differently.  Yes, they are the types of parents in Korea. It’s also worth mentioning here that some parents almost expect you to parent their children for them.  So develop a thick skin and the ability to let things in one ear and out the other.

5. Learn to hate the word “why” and love the word “maybe”; As I said, we do things differently here, so when your co teacher tells you to do something that makes no sense whatsoever, always best to learn to smile and nod instead of saying why.  Because we’re never going to change their way of doing things so just play along with their mad notions and ideas. Otherwise, we are at risk of becoming the “why” parrot.   Also, as I mentioned before, Koreans love the word “maybe”.  You should know that by “maybe” they mostly mean definitely yes.  So maybe you should learn to embrace and love that word.

6. Get used to surprises; You must learn to love surprises, they come at you everyday.  “Surprise, you have no classes until 2pm and yes it is only 9.30am so you can just sit at you’re desk and look foreign”. “Surprise! Today is photo day! Oh you didn’t know?”  Surprise! No one came to school today…..nobody called you? Eh no!” Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!!!!

So folks a few things here to think about. Add more if you can think of some!