Posted in Teaching Things

On Eikaiwa Schedules

Now that I’m back in the eikaiwa schedule, let’s talk about a few things real quick, mainly about how the irregularity of these schedules can be maddening.

I understand that everyone gets the warning in the application process that some people will get more hours than others, and that some days will be more busy than others. But holy hell, man, sometimes when I get home I’m just EXHAUSTED. And it occurs to me as I sit at home eating crap food because I feel like crap that these schedules are so freakin’ weird.

I get some of the schedule irregularities. It’s business and customer service oriented, so when we do taiken (trail) lessons then we need to set aside time for those. Alright, fine enough. But then there are times when I’m working a day of back-to-back classes and I go, “Gee, wonder why this turnover rate is so damn high?!”

I can understand wanting to keep customers happy, so you prioritize their time over the employees. But I also don’t understand why you’d fail so hard at scheduling things that your employees end up wanting to quit.

My hard day is Saturday, where-in I teach four back-to-back classes in the morning. This wouldn’t kill me if it weren’t for the following classes in the afternoon, which are all kids group classes. Young kids, as in toddlers and elementary school kids. The amount of energy required to “teach” them, as in play in English with them, is more than the energy I actually have in a week.

This particular schedule has cycled through three other people before me, all of whom based on those who worked with them, also hated the schedule. It was apparently a factor in one person leaving.

And I know for a fact many eikaiwas do this practice of impossible workloads with demanding time constraints because god forbid we pay you a full lunch hour instead of the allotted forty five or actually give you overtime hours for doing extra prep.

Nope, gotta keep them labor costs down.

I get that owning a business is difficult, keeping customers must be a difficult endeavor, but consistently making impossible schedules isn’t going to fix those problems. Making schedules that give little to no prep time means that students get little to no quality in classes, it means teachers having little to no energy to get through the day, it means students leaving because they’re paying for these lessons and they want good quality for what they pay.

In the case of this Saturday schedule, they’ve added more children into my toddler class. I can already foretell a trend of adding more students into other classes of mine. I guess that’s because I do good demos, perhaps because my class times are more convenient for moms. But a really obvious solution, one would think, is instead of adding more students into an already full-ish class or shoving make-up students all into this particular day, would be instead to hire one more teacher for the school.

But we can’t because gotta keep those labor costs down, right?

It drives me crazy to think about how often these schedules happen in eikaiwa work, and they’re needlessly bad. If you can tell on paper that a schedule is causing a turnover, then maybe it might be a good idea to, I dunno, fix it?

Or even prevent it from happening! “Prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is a quote I often think about when it comes to problem solving. If you already tell there’s going to be a problem, then do your best to prevent it from happening, and maybe you’ll be better off for it. It’s simple, but in the eikaiwa industry they often seem to shoot themselves in the foot and ruin good instructors by demanding too much with harsh schedules.

Essentially in giving instructors enough time to plan, enough time between classes for set-up, and that forty five minute break, the quality of lessons will be better. It seems like common sense, and yet I saw this in Coco Juku before this current eikaiwa. Schedules are often designed on some days to simply cram as many students in as possible. Once again, I understand the need for a customer base, but if you have more customers than instructors for classes, that’s an over-extension of resources no matter how you look at it.

Now in fairness I’m actually really, really lucky. My boss chose schools that were close to my apartment, so I’m not spending two hours on a train to go to and from a school. My Monday through Thursday hours aren’t back-to-back madness at all, mainly because I get a full hour of prep on these days. These schedules are well designed to maintain a regular customer base.

But all too often the consistent customer base isn’t a part of the “quotas” and “targets” of an eikaiwa school. Constant customer growth is higher on the ladder. Quotas and targets won’t keep customers coming back, instructors do. Allowing the system to ruin instructors is how eikaiwas go under, just look at NOVA for that reminder. Push people too hard and something will give, be it in the form of a one month notice or a lawsuit or an angry tirade on a blog…

I’m well aware that this post won’t really solve anything. I’ve already spoken with several people about the harshness of that Saturday, and everyone basically shrugs their shoulders and says, “Yeah, Saturdays man,” and go on with their lives. Also, it’s not like one day out of the week is gonna make me quit (lived in Japan for seven years now, please, I’ll be here a while longer).

And yet, I worry about the new people, the ones who came half way across the world to be instructors and might have way worse schedules. I worry about my friends who talk about their eikaiwa work where they get zero personal days, just days without pay, sometimes even a whole unpaid summer. Instructors in the eikaiwa industry have little incentive to stay loyal with any company what-so-ever, scheduling is just one of many factors that bothers me about this work.

Once again, I’m lucky. I work for a company with personal days, paid leave, insurance, so the basic non-slavery-like package deal. And yet, I can already see cracks in this foundation. I can already start to see parallels to problematic system practices. I wish that things could change.

What kind of changes? A cap on back to back classes would be a good start (like perhaps three-four), a minimal ten minute prep before each class, and a standard hour of a lunch break (because come on, everyone uses it for prep time, who are we kidding?). But I know those changes are never gonna happen. A person so low on the ladder is never gonna get the attention of the big administrators and the company heads, there’s just no way that’ll ever happen.

It’s nice to talk about it, though, at least just a bit.

 

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Posted in Blog/Vlog Announcements, Uncategorized

Launching a Patreon Page! Yay!

Firstly, much love to everyone who stayed on the poetry series with me. It was a labor of love, and I’m glad to receive love for my work in return. It’s just awesome!

And so, it’s been suggested by a few friends here and there to go for a poetry book. Having no funds for such a venture, I decided it is time to get a Patreon page.

I haven’t set up monthly goals yet, but I essentially want to make exclusive content for the Patreon givers such as previews of the book that I won’t show here on the blog.

I also want to get back on the YouTube content making horse, putting up more tourist friendly things on Patreon with more day-to-day vlogs here on the site.

Basically, I have a thousand ideas, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m going for it anyways. I want to do more, like way more, but without a little support here and there I just can’t do it.

So if you’d like to support my poetry or my blogs or vlogs, head on over to the Patreon page. I’d appreciate even a dollar or two! It’s taking my work one step closer to getting out there!

Love you all, thank you!

Posted in Poetry

To Me, From Now

Many friends speak of regrets

and deep hate for their teen selves.

Too much trouble,

too much anger,

or too arrogant for

adult supervision.

Then there is you,

a girl stuck in books

chasing dragons,

fighting warlocks,

saving the world,

and studying in between

all the novels hoarded

like gold.

Be good, you think, always good,

and no one will leave.

Not again, anyway.

Yet still be ready,

for they might still

at any moment decide

you’re just not good enough

to stay and love.

Oh, if I could tell you…

Don’t beat yourself into

a suicidal crunch.

Let in your friends

so they will help you.

Don’t carry this hidden burden

of singular responsible child.

Let your mother see the letters

you stashed away on bad days.

All these things, but also more.

I would tell you the truth

that you’re ill prepared to hear:

You are worthy

of the love you seek

and the adventure

you need.

Someday, you’ll seek it out

beyond these green hills

and across the sea

you’ll find it all there

waiting.

Keep going, brave little girl,

you’re almost there.

Posted in Poetry, Travels in Japan

A Future Made

I knew psychics couldn’t be trusted when

a woman read some cards upon a cloth,

“You will be married!

Three children and a man,

what a happy home!”

And I promptly replied,

“Oh? That’s all?”

Her eyes widened in shock

that I would dare

to want more.

 

“When will you get married?”

asked my cousins when

I told them of plans

to move across the globe

and teach children

in a foreign land.

“Not a priority.”

The sheer dismay displayed

as if I’d chosen to

opt out of  happiness

forever.

 

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

asks a clueless salaryman

as I walk with my travel bag

to Terminal 1 at Narita

to catch a fight.

“You’ll never know,”

I tell him before

I head off to

Sapporo.

 

“Do you think you’ll marry a Japanese man?”

asks a student in class

with well done intonation.

I laugh at the sudden query

caught off guard in a lesson

on Japanese matsuri and

festival food.

“I have no idea.”

I say in truth for my next plan

involves a weekend away

in South Korea

with old friends and lots

of beach, sun,

and fun.

 

“What are your dreams for the future?”

she asks me with a smile.

My heart beats loud

in my ears.

“I want to be a writer,

and I want to travel the world,”

and I want to do it

with you

but no, don’t say it.

“Sounds like you’ve got it made!”

Yes, but maybe, or no,

who knows?

 

But better a future made

than a planned path

meant to serve

some mystery man.

Life demands action

so be true to thy ambition

and not some archaic

expectations.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Break, Broke, Broken

I go through a class with my tongue sliding on

all the textbook words knowing I

will stumble over some

syllable or two

because it takes

all my energy

just to

stand.

The next day I call in with a cold for a cold

is easier to explain than some

twisted up version of a

messy thing I call

my own

soul

is

breaking.

The weight on my chest pushes heavier

into my rib cage to steal away

all the breath I need

to cry, to form tears,

to speak,

to get

help.

There are stories told at meetings.

An ALT went home because

someone found out

about the therapist

and no B.O.E

wants to keep

broken

merchandise.

And so I contain within the apartment walls

these festering abysmal thoughts

praying that tomorrow this

so-called cold

will just

leave me

be.

Two days later, I return to school

with a very big smile

so no one will guess

that I am still

carrying this

sickness

crushing

my will

to

just

stay

alive.

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Enter the Underground

Deck your body in tight black

with high black boots to match,

but throw on crimson eyeliner

and ruby paint on lips

so your lover can find you

on the dim lit dancefloor.

Watch green lasers slice through

the air around the stage.

What a lovely neon halo

around the fallen angels

singing on the stage.

The one drenched in blood

pulls out a heart to eat

for what is art if not

your heart exposed.

A woman in a silken robe

lets a man write kanji

on her skin

from head to toe.

She smiles at the crowd

as she turns to display

the seal against evil

along her spine.

We in the darkness cheer

as the man puts another line

on her inner thigh

set to the shamisen

and fast taiko beats.

Next comes the rock stars

decked in leather.

The one with the operatic chords

and the other with screaming energy

give the fans a taste

of Gothic beauty with a hint

of wrath.

At the end of the show,

your performing friend

comes to hug you.

“Did you enjoy the show?”

Posted in Poetry

Learned Differences

“Four seasons! We have four seasons.”

Summer, spring, fall, and winter.

“Should I tell them?” the American teacher

ponders

as she asks the class

to mimic the lines

again, again, and again.

“Japan is special!”

the Japanese teacher proclaims,

“Other countries don’t have four seasons!”

The American teacher shares a look

with the Chinese exchange student.

He shakes his head.

Maybe next year,

the American teacher decides.

Best not to let them think

that all textbooks have

oh, so many lies.