I’m not quite sure where to begin! So much has happened and I’ve put off making a blog for so long. I’ll start with today! Today I’m sick. It’s my first time being sick in Japan and I still need to work my full time job. Fortunately, Thursdays are my awesome days where I don’t teach many classes and my one kid’s class today is awesome and well behaved. It’s 10 am now, I need to leave at 11:14 to catch the 11:24 train to Shinyurigaoka station. I’ll get to work around 11:40, and classes begin at noon. Today, one of the assistant managers is going to help me get my bank card which I need to buy a phone. Hopefully I can finally get a phone this weekend. I will work until 9, with a one hour break. The most classes you can teach in a day are seven, and I have three of my five days per week like that (depending on the week. Sometimes only two) and they are pretty awful because you have almost no time for preparation, so you need to prepare on days you aren’t busy but sometimes people will notice you aren’t busy and ask you to do extra stuff but you really can’t spare much time. The good thing is that the days go by pretty fast because it’s so busy. After work, I’m usually too tired to do anything, so I typically get a bento box from the supermarket or go to a cheap restaurant, eat, and go to bed.
So at AEON, the work week is Tuesday to Saturday. Tuesday to Friday is noon-9, and Saturday is 10-7. I teach about 28-30 classes a week, 10 of which are kids classes (my kids range from 1st grade to junior high). Adult classes are great because the adults will behave and listen and are usually willing to interact, something I wouldn’t have appreciated if I didn’t teach any kids classes. Kids can either be really wonderful and fill your day with joy, or be a total nightmare whose attention you need to re-grab every 30 seconds. At least the lessons are only 50 minutes.
AEON is nice because all the lessons have already been prepared. The idea is all the AEON schools in Japan will be teaching the same lessons that week. It makes preparing as simple as taking the lesson file and the textbook, familiarizing yourself with the material, and brainstorming ideas of exactly what to do. There are two main types of adult classes: grammar-based classes, and speech-based classes. All the lessons follow the same structure, so you only need to memorize the structure for grammar classes and for speech classes and you are good forever.
Kids classes, on the other hand, are more difficult. The structure is slightly different depending on the age, and you need to think of games and how to make the games fun so they will keep their attention, but also educational so they can use the sentence structure by the end of the class. And you want to change up the games every week to get some good variety. I’m really impressed by my fellow teachers who can come up with great ideas for games on the fly. I hope that’s a skill I can learn eventually Usually my games are either too fun, or too educational.
My coworkers are all great. There are four of us foreign teachers, three full time Japanese teachers (a head teacher, a kid’s head teacher, and a normal full time teacher), about five part time Japanese teachers, a manager and two assistant managers. I’ve heard horror stories of foreign teachers and Japanese teachers being at war with each other, or the manager is completely disconnected with what the teachers need to do and put unreasonable burdens on them, but we all seem to get along well and the manager is awesome. And my fellow foreign teachers are very nice and helpful as well.
My other responsibilities besides teaching are what make this job especially busy. We need to do counseling with current students, trial lessons and interviews with prospective students, check tests for students who are doing self study (basically extra work they do at home), various cleaning duties, and lots of miscellaneous tasks. They are slowly adding extra things for me to do, and I don’t like it! Maybe one of the most difficult skills I’m learning is to work quickly. I’m so used to working at my own, slow pace. I like to be methodical and thorough. And if I’m feeling tired, I work slower because my mind isn’t going as fast. But I quickly realized that I need to put myself into overdrive at work a bunch and get things done as fast as possible. It’s difficult because I tend to get distracted if I go too fast. I hope as I get more familiar with the work, I can do it all much, much faster.
So there’s just about all the info about work! Sorry if this post is pretty boring. I wanted to get all the work details out of the way so I can talk about other things in future posts, and so you would know why I’m so tired and slow to communicate. My weeks are busy with work, and my 2-day weekends are busy trying to experience Japan! Luckily I haven’t had a shortage of things to do. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to begin Taiko or Japanese classes yet. My goal was to begin both by the beginning of November so I’m running out of time!
I miss you all a lot and think about you all the time. Coming to Japan is a big change but it’s very refreshing after living my entire life in Salt Lake City. I definitely needed some fear and uncertainty in my life, and this is fitting the bill nicely! I also knew that if I never got a difficult job, I would never be able to teach myself how to work hard if I didn’t need to. I’m stressed and busy, but happy for the change and excited for the future!