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Texas ISD School Guide
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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Being a teacher in Japan

Kevin I am sorry to hear about your teacher leaving you in a tight spot with such short notice. I do not condole his actions nor any other person in any company who would carry out such actions to their employer.

However I would like to point out my own personal feelings after having taught English in japan for almost 4 years.

The one thing that really annoys me about being a "Gaijin" in Japan and working in the Japanese education system is how we are always told by the powers that be, how "important" we are as teachers.

Sure we get called "sensei" by our students and fellow teachers, and we are apparently looked highly upon in the neibourhood. That is great until we have a complaint and then we are no longer important enough to have our complaint dealt with. We get the all to common response of "That is the Japanese system". Or "Yes I/we understand your feeling but that is just the way it is....etc etc etc.

Let me give you a great example that has happened to me recently. I am currently working as an ALT in a junior high school. I have to team teach with 6 teachers. Now one of my teachers has decided for whatever reason that she does not want to team teach with me. She does not talk to me and she will not do anything that I request for her students. I turned up to work on a day that we were supposed to team teach and she told me "I have cancelled our lesson" I asked her why, she replied "I just have" This have been continuing for 2 weeks now. I spoke with the kyoto sensei and the kocho sensei and the B.O.E about this situation and I got told "that is just the way she is" "Don't worry about it, just ignore her" etc etc. Now I know for a fact that if I turned up to work and decided to tell the other teachers "I am not going to team teach with you today, or the next day or the next day for that matter" What would happen? I would be fired, no questions asked.

Why is the Japanese teacher so special. Not only is she not doing her job, she is stopping me from doing my job and all her 165 students miss out on the opportunity of having me in their classes.

As teachers we are expected to work overtime for no pay. I had to help my students prepare for a speech contest last month. When I asked my school if I would be attending they told me I couldn't because they would have to pay my transportation money to and from the contest. So for 2 months they had no problem with me working overtime everyday for no extra pay to help the students prepare for the contest but then they wouldn't even pay my transport costs to and from the contest. But wait the "Japanese" teacher was allowed to go and they paid her costs. On top of that they paid for a taxi, yes that's right a taxi to take the students to the contest. I ended up going anyway on my own pocket.

These are just two examples but there are countless more that show the aoutrageous double standards that a high number of english schools and Japanese companies have towards "gaijin" staff.

So it seems we are important as long as we work overtime for no pay. Go through a complete questioning and lenghty procedure if we want time off. Do not complain about anything. Understand that the Japanese teachers are Japanese so they have more rights (even though the English teachers are so important). Be Japanese, think like the Japanese, understand the Japanese way, change to be like the Japanese but don't expect them to do the same for you. Let the Japanese teachers not do their job without being fired but don't dare do the same as them or you will be. And so on and so on.

So it seems that there are many valid reasons for there to be many angry or annoyed teachers and employers out there. But in the long run I believe it is usually the employer (teacher) who gets the most unfair deal.

People say that the pay is not bad. I think it is not too bad but if you take into consideration how expensive Japan is then the average pay of 250.000yen really is only just enough to live if you don't want to live in a shoebox and you have to pay all your rent and bills etc yourself.

I am not saying that all companies and employers are bad. Not at all. I worked for a great company for 2 years where my boss who was not Japanese was great. The pay was above the minimum 250.000 they were patient and understanding etc etc. However when there was some problem with 2 out of the 6 yochiens that I was teaching at, (those problems being that either the encho sensei or one of the teachers decided that they wanted a new teacher) the backing and fighting and standing up for the present teacher went out the window. Why? Because in the long run the schools business to the company was more important that the teacher was to them. Now I can understand the reason for that. Business is business. But in a culture where where are bombarded with "The teacher is so important" etc, I just don't see it as anything but a lie.

Messages In This Thread

Being a teacher in Japan -- Johnson
Advice: How are African Els teachers treated in JAPAN -- To Kelvin
African Teachers -- Leon Davis

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