It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Japan for 5 months already. Before I know it, the year will have passed and I’ll be faced with a decision of what to do next.
It feels like just yesterday I was making my grandiose fare-thee-well video speech as I prepared to leave Korea. I mentioned in the video that one of the main reasons for leaving was to search for a greater challenge in teaching. I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed to work for a private elementary school in Japan.
Working for private or international schools is a completely different game than EPIK or other teaching jobs in Korea. EPIK, for example, is an assistant teaching job. You aren’t responsible for administering tests or tracking grades or meeting with parents or anything like that. Just show up, help teach classes however the Korean teacher sees fit and be done with it.
Private and international schools are full-on teaching positions in most cases and come complete with the responsibilities of all of the above and then some. And that’s the case with my life now. Just like I wished for.
I won’t lie. I haven’t been writing or making videos whatsoever. I’m just too pooped to do any of that after I get home each day. At my school, Japanese teachers, for example, are required to work from 7:30 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. 5 days a week and another 6-10 hours every other Saturday. Sound like fun? That’s the minimum. Some do more, and still a select few do much more, believe it or not.
As a foreign teacher on a small team consisting of three, I am not required to do those same hours. Still, I go from 7:30 a.m. until around 5-5:30 p.m. most days, and 6 hours every other Saturday. My foreign coworkers do more than me. That’s not even the real difference from working for EPIK.
Now I am responsible for testing students, monitoring progress, multiple side projects and extra-curricular events, overseeing cleaning, and crossing guard responsibilities each day. The icing on the cake is the lesson planning. Every lesson obviously requires a thorough lesson plan describing the details of my class. I also need to do open classes for parents and other teachers and this will become more prominent in the future.
Again, I’m pooped at the end of a day. Judo? What is that? I’m lucky to hit the weights 2 or 3 times a week.
So, you may think this new job is a bummer after reading this. Well, it is what it is. A step up. A real challenge for however long I keep up with it. It’s what I was seeking when I left Korea. It’s just what I wished for.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I, at times, second guess my decision now. Overall though, this is what the teaching doctor ordered. It’s what I wished for.
Be careful what you wish for. Or pray for. You just may get exactly what you were thinking.