There’s no question I’m working much harder now than I was when with EPIK in Korea. I now teach at a private elementary school in Japan and it’s clear that my role is much more involved. Tons of planning and scheduling, documentation, and tracking student progress.
The school I teach at is very well respected in Hiroshima and it is run in a way that indicates it plans to remain respected. The Japanese teachers work HARD. Wow, long hours. At the same time though, there are many perks. First, it is a great, positive atmosphere. I think when people are working this hard and for the number of hours they do, being positive is key for the long haul. Something I can still learn from myself.
The facilities are incredible. The amenities are top notch bar none. We have a pipe organ and rock climbing wall, if that gives you any indication. Also, when the school does an outing like a teacher welcoming or extra-curricular event, it’s done very well. For example, I was recently invited to watch the Hiroshima Toyo Carps baseball team play at Mazda Stadium. For a city with only about 1.1 million people, this stadium is awesome. Top notch. The high school had this event for their teachers and they invited me because I had looked into their judo team as a place to work out. As a side note, the principle is a 7th dan and the vice principal is a 6th dan who came up by way of the Tenri University team. The school had reserved the BBQ Deck at Mazda Stadium, which are the best seats in the house. Walking around on two decks, free food and beer. Wow, what a way to watch a baseball game!
On top of it all, I get to wear flip-flops in school during the warmer months. At first I thought it would feel odd, but now it feels very natural and comfortable. My feet can breath! Everyone in the school wears them, from students to staff. Amazingly, they had ONE pair that was just about my size, so nothing is digging into my heel.
If you know, I left Korea in search of the new. A greater challenge. Well, I have definitely found it. The pace and level of expectation from teachers is high. I was overwhelmed for a while, and I’m still working on getting my hands around everything. I guess I need to be more careful of what I wish for.
To be continued…