One thing I hate is when someone mistakes my job as teaching. Yes, I am a licensed teacher, but no I am not a teacher per se. I prefer educator, AET or ALT, and am pretty much an edutainer. My job is to be interesting and put a spin on a subject that most students don’t give a flying fuck about; English. I have a great time with the students, and I enjoy what I do, but what I am limited in doing combined with school culture makes it ineffectual at best.
I would hesitate to call the actual Japanese teachers, teachers as well. I’m not saying this as an insult, but actual teaching is a small fraction of what they do. They mostly function as more of a social guardian. The vast majority of their works is administrative and, oddly enough, club activities. Even when there is no school, the teachers are still responsible for the students. An example being when McDonalds called a teacher at 2am because the kids where shooting off fireworks inside the restaurant. I guess there is a 24 hour teacher hotline. I would say US schools and Japanese schools are incompatible because they have very different missions. The Japanese schools primary mission is to improve social standing, actual grades or critical thinking aren’t a priority. In the US it is the opposite. The brightest kids the system produces are more like Frank Herbert’s Mentats, with a vast depot of rote facts and figures. The kids in Japan excel in subjects like math, but stall out when they have to apply it in innovative ways (not that I should speak, being equally horrible in each topic).
Anyhow, For future reference, this is a list of teachers at the school I am currently at:
Mr. Black– He is still in his first few years and is a really good English speaker. The constant repetition of the same basic grammar over and over again is eroding his ability though. He is a nice guy and pleasant to chat with, but in class he is usually pretty distracted and prone to just wander off. He likes to rough house with the boys, but doesn’t know when to quit, which earned him a black eye when he tried to strong arm one of the more antisocial kids.
Mrs. Baughman– An older women who is actually very nice but comes off as odd because she claims to know more English than she does. In class she usually corrects the kids so fast, they have no time to self correct. Still really nice though and easy to work with.
Ms. Rivers– Ms. Rivers started roughly the same time as Mr. Black, and could easily have become a model instead of a teacher. Really nice to talk to, when she understands what is being said. She is one of those kinds of speakers that sound so natural it is easy to mistake their level for being higher than it is. When she started, the students steam rolled her, but she is progressing well. Unfortunately, this year they put her in the most ill behaved group of students in the entire city.
Ms. Temple– She transferred her from my favorite school and it still doesn’t seem like she fits in this environment. She is one of the superstars of teaching in this city and her English ability is one of the best. She is able to connect with the kids and get them motivated. She is part of a pilot program to make English a permanent subject at the Elementary schools, so I rarely see her anymore. This woman is a workaholic. Even her former vice principle told me that she never goes home, which in Japan is really something to say.
Mr. Woods– He is a new teacher as well, and has a very teddy bear look and manner about him. Don’t mistake him for a cream puff though, because I have seen him take a child to task with ‘extreme prejudice’ to quote Apocalypse now. He is a really fun guy though, and really creates a ‘least restrictive environment’
Mr. Wells– brand new teacher with mediocre English skills. It’s hard to really place him since he mostly shadows a more experienced teacher or teaches special education. Very nice though.
Mr. Bridges– in the same boat as Mr. Wells, but his English is impeccable and really exudes an air if confidence where Mr. Well has more of a pusillanimous way. If he is allowed to evolve, he will be right up there with Ms. Temple.