Posts Tagged company policy

July 2006 – Busted (not me)

“No interacting with students outside of the classroom” is one of the cornerstones of NOVA employee policy. The idea is to prevent teachers from stealing students from the school for cheaper private lessons, and to reduce the risk of any unpleasant interactions that could cause the students to stop buying lessons.

** Please remember, when I say “students”, I am referring to conversation school students who are typically adults.

In Kawasaki I was aware that some teachers were seeing students outside of the classroom, but when I arrived in eastern Shizuoka I was surprised by how often it happened. Pretty much everyone other than supervisors had been to an “unofficial” farewell party with students in attendance. In addition, several of the teachers are or were dating students, and my friend Koalako shared an apartment with two teachers in Numazu.

Hanging out with students was an open secret in the area, with the understanding that everyone should keep it quiet and not let the supervisors or Japanese branch staff know. For the amount of times that teachers and students interacted outside of the classroom, it’s actually surprising how few people got caught. The good luck streak was broken in mid 2006 when teachers got caught red handed.

The two male teachers had invited two female Japanese students out for a drink, and for some reason decided to go to an izakaya near Fuji school that was popular with the Japanese branch staff. They were seated near the entrance, when coincidentally the branch staff came in for an after work drink as well. My understanding is that the teachers were called to a tense meeting with the area manager shortly after to remind them of NOVA’s policies.

I can understand NOVA’s point of view about the policy: they are a business and they need to protect their future profits. However, I think there is a lot of benefit from teachers and students interacting outside of the confines of the classroom. The best way to practice conversational English is to have a real conversation. Interacting outside of the classroom in a natural setting is also a great way to improve intercultural understanding. Other than good times at karaoke, I got a lot more out of my time in Japan by spending time with Japanese people instead of just teachers.

If you are teaching in Japan and decide to ignore company policy by hanging out with students, please be sensible, behave properly, and don’t ruin it for everyone else. Also, choose the venue carefully: you don’t want branch staff to crash the party!

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December 26, 2003 – The out group

(original post)

Last day of work before holidays! Today was a good day, but I noticed that after work some of the teachers went out for drinks. They were very careful about who they invited and made a point of avoiding questions about where they were going after. The Japanese get a bad rap for being very cliquey and keeping their own little “in” groups, but it happens just as much or more with non-Japanese as well. I kind of felt like I was back in high school again.

(2013 update)

There was a cliquey “cool” group at Kawasaki Nova, but looking back on things it is very likely that the teachers were going to hang out with students. Interacting with students outside of the classroom was officially not allowed, both because NOVA wanted to avoid teachers poaching students for private lessons and because NOVA wanted to avoid teachers doing anything that could affect repeat business. Failure to follow this rule could lead to anything from official warnings through termination.

I was definitely not part of the “cool” group, but I would prefer to think that my exclusion was due to interaction with students. It really doesn’t matter now, but I was feeling pretty excluded at the time, in addition to being homesick for Christmas.

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