The training for my job was kind of weird, as mentioned in a previous post. My job itself isn’t bad; I actually like it. My next post will be about that. This one is about my experiences with my first company training day, which took place on my second day as a teacher…
At my company there are works days which every native teacher treks over to a random building in Tokyo for a seminar of sorts. This includes people taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) from the far north. in order for me to get there, my manager and I took a 1.5 hour bus, which is about the same travel time as the Shinkansen.
I arrived early, so I staked out where I needed to be, double checked it was the right building with the lady at the front desk, and just chilled out on a bench and at some pan (Japanese bread) while I waited. When the time came, I wandered in (saying hi to the front desk lady again) and found a seat in the room my company had rented out.
It was a pretty weird feeling when people first started filtering in. For a good half hour I was the only female in the room. In the end there were 5 of us versus 20-30 guys. Statistically speaking this is only odd when you examine the number of men in education, not the number of people that speak Japanese. Allow me to explain: out of the whole population of people that speak Japanese, something like 15% are white males under 30. I don’t have the exact statistics in front of me, but I think white females under 30 don’t even mark a scratch.
When the event started, we started with the financial numbers. I hate this sort of thing because I’m in teaching for my students. If I were in it for the numbers, I would have gone into something that actually pays well. In the end we all gave ourselves a pat on the back because we had grown 120% in a year or something. I didn’t really care because, again, this was my second day.
Next we went over the events. It was around now that I started to feel out of place. Many of the people presently were really enthusiastic. To a weird extent. At this point it wasn’t all that bad, but it was just a little weird.
It was when we got to the demo lessons (again…) that shit really hit the fan. I’ve been through a teaching credential program and I’ve worked in public schools for the last few years, but I’ve never had to pretend that I’m a child or that the 40 year old in front of me is a child. These activities feel like an insult to my intelligence, if I’m being entirely honest. Give me a child and I’ll make them smile. Give me a 40 year old pretending to be a child and it’ll take everything in my power to stop myself from cringing and making horrified faces as a response.
What made these demo lessons worse was a guy named, Julian. When Julian presented earlier in the day, if he had mentioned how our company saved him from a life of drugs and prostitution, it would have fit the tone of his adoration perfectly. His public speaking style was one that had pauses for emphasis and awe of the good work that our company is doing.
During our demo lessons, each group had one eager beaver assigned to them to make sure they were doing it right. Julian was the one for my group. We had been given flashcards, which at least half of my group had never seen, and were meant to create lessons and games on the spot in a rapid-fire sort of way. Once a lesson was brainstormed, Julian demanded to see it acted out on the spot. Thankfully, my group had a friend that I knew before coming out here and two sane, nice guys (one of which really knew how to turn it on whenever a higher up was watching) and we were managing to come up with some lessons under the guidance of the two veteran teachers in our group.
Even though we were doing alright, Julian was not pleased. He would snap his fingers at us to come up with a new lessons the second we had finished, and, one the veteran teachers had done one each, demanded to hear something from the new teachers, which included me.
The other new teacher had been working with my company for a month, so he had at least had some experience giving lessons; he was able to throw out an activity or two to appease Julian. I had only taught two lessons, one of which was with adults and have an entirely different format. Our flashcards had some monsters on them and the target language was, “Watch out! It’s a _____!” so I said I would have a target practice sort of game, where kids throw darts or balls at the monsters as I call them out. The response I received was more snapping and Julian enthusiastically yelling “I want to see one now! Now! Make something we can do now!”
Honestly, I don’t even remember any other ideas I had after that. I remember the inner, burning rage I had… But not much else. By the end of the day, I was honestly ready to quit so I didn’t have to sit through another one of those (pardon my language) shitfests. After we left, my friend and I went out to grab a beer and some food. He explained that this isn’t as bad as it is at many of the companies and that I should just view this an an event to prove my loyalty and devotion to the company. Then he and my other friend started chanting, “One of us! One of us!” while we took the subway to a Hokkaido themed bar by Tokyo station. That place was awesome…
In the end I still work with the company almost a week later, and my students seem to be responding well to me. I’ve got my own style.