I heard the words floating around multiple times and talked with other teacher friends who were stressing out over them. Like most extra school requirements in Korea, open classes were not well explained to me and were a source of rather nerve-wracking mystery. So I decided to share my experience and make it a little less of a mystery to anyone curious and hopefully less nerve-wracking.
What are they? Basically, teachers from other schools come to critique you and your co-teacher’s classroom to make sure you are both doing well as educators. Since your co-teacher will look bad if you look bad, co-teachers are usually pretty stressed out about open classes and will rehearse them like plays which means they aren’t always like real classes and that you don’t have to worry too much about messing up.
How much prep time did I have? I was told about a month in advance and my co-teacher was incredibly flexible. He opened up the calendar and asked me point to the day I wanted. I was able to give myself plenty of time to plan and prepare but I know this is not always the case. Some teacher are just told what day and told what lesson they will be presenting. My co-teacher not only let me pick the day but also the lesson and section that I wanted to focus on so we both knew we would be comfortable with what we were teaching.
How difficult was prep? Prep on my end was incredibly easy. My co-teacher and I would bounce ideas of each other and came up with an easy engaging lesson. While I did the bulk of planning, he did the bulk of prepping materials and formating the lesson plan (which I think is the hard part). We kept the games simple and the objectives clear so we both knew exactly what to do. I’ve heard some people have to prep more and other people have co-teachers who completely take over prep so I guess it can really vary.
How much did you rehearse the lesson? I have heard of teacher rehearsing weeks in advance till the students are trained when to raise their hand and which words to say till they are basically little robots.
That was definitely not the case with us. We didn’t practice till the day of and it was just a quick review of what games we were doing. My co-teacher may have practiced with the students more while I wasn’t there, but together we only reviewed the lesson once.
What was the day of open classes like? That day the guest teachers arrived and it was more relaxed than I expected. There was, of course, lots of bowing and handshaking and then classes began. Our open class was recorded but I don’t think this is the always the case (in fact, I think this is pretty rare). It went smoothly. The students knew and enjoyed the games so there was positive energy, and we had timed it perfectly; it was over in a flash. Even the troublemakers in the class behaved perfectly because of the pressure of the strangers in the room and the fact that they were being recorded.
Overall? While it may be a bit stressful teaching with an extra audience, it’s basically a chance to show off the adorable students and the latest fun game you have found.