Lately* the Nagoya schools have been having trouble with their teachers. The problems are happening at both the top and the bottoms of the corporate pyramid, so no one person can be blamed for anything that’s been happening. And failures can very rarely be attributed to a single cause, so thankfully I have a plethora of people to blame for the shit that’s been falling my way! As everyone should know: shit doesn’t travel up, it only goes down.
Let’s start with how it’s been affecting yours truly: basically I’ve been turned into some kind of part time fireman as I haul my flat Asian ass into Nagoya two or three times a week to put out teaching related fires resulting from a lack of teachers. Individually it’s not a burden, but it gets to you when you’re being told to turn your fire hose on one small burning patch two or three times a week while the house is still on fire.
There’s a teacher problem because the schools can’t seem to keep them. In the last two years, give or take a couple months, the two schools in Nagoya have gone through about eight teachers. And that’s just foreign teachers. My school by comparison has gone through two teachers in two years: the one I replaced and one who left six months before I started. Nagoya can’t seem to hang onto teachers.
Part of THAT problem is because the schools are really poorly placed. Both schools are in very expensive parts of town, with nice big offices in very central locations. And our services are really expensive. This means each school needs at least fifty regular students just to break even. Neither has reached ever reached this mark. Another part is that both schools are open all weekend and closed on either Tuesday or Wednesday. So teachers in Nagoya have to work weekends. I at least always have Sunday off, working all my weekends would drive me to a very special kind of crazy(the kind of crazy where puppets sing songs on a galleon trying to find an island that resembles a skull). The schools need loads of students to stay afloat so any teacher in Nagoya is going to be worked within an inch of their lives on their weekend.
To top this problem off our work schedules mean we don’t get off until 9 in the evening. So the majority of the time the foreigners in Nagoya not only have their weekends shot, they’ve also been trampled on with prejudice by French cavalry. It’s no wonder teachers don’t want to stick around.
This has been made worse by the fact that both schools have been repeatedly understaffed for foreign teachers and the schools can’t recruit locally. Recruitment and assignment only happens through HQ so when we lose a teacher we never know when the replacement is coming. My school didn’t know I was coming until a month before I arrived. The result of this is that the one foreign teacher Nagoya has between both schools has been working VERY full days and a teacher from Gifu and I have been picking up the slack between teaching our regular classes(As of writing this that teacher has moved to part time work, probably a precursor to resigning).
And of course HQ can’t see that there is a big problem out here, maybe no one is telling them how dire things are or because they don’t care. The former manager resigned a few months ago and her replacement was one of her counsellors who had started with the company a mere 6 months earlier. She did am admirable job(before taking training to be a teacher) but at the end of the day you can’t grow a steel scrotum overnight. The same goes for the other school. When I first started covering classes the management job was being done by two different people who wouldn’t be be able to make a choice between Pepsi or Coke without a half hour closed door meeting and consulting a steering committee. Again, both really nice ladies who really just got thrown into a job that neither were ready for.
No one seems to understand you can’t pick up and toss just anyone at a problem and expect them to succeed. Especially someone who hasn’t ever been a leader before and hasn’t had the opportunity to grow and learn how to be one.
All of this coupled with branch managers who rarely get told anything by HQ and also seem like they don’t understand the fundamental problems they are faced with has me donning a yellow hat, fireproof jacket and boots that could curb stomp unobservant fowl. Hell, last year we got a memo from HQ telling us we could take our ties off starting May 1st. We got the memo halfway through June. HQ manages information like this is a military operation and one of us might drop the ball and let zee Germans know Normandy is our target. Apparently teachers are mushrooms: keep them in the dark and feed them shit.
*Lately seems to mean about 6-8 months these days.