Posts Tagged empty lesson

June 11, 2005 – Human paper shredder

Tonight I worked the Saturday evening shift alone. Usually there are at least two teachers on late Saturday, but tonight I was working solo. It was just as well – all 4 of my late lessons were empty.

As I have mentioned before, NOVA still pays teachers if no students show up to lessons, however the teachers are expected to find something productive to do in the office. In the past I have had to hand out tissues at the train station, clean the office, tidy the files, or colour kids class training material. Tonight I had a new activity – manually tearing up old comment sheets from former students files. No, we don’t have a paper shredder in the branch.

By about the third hour of trying to avoid paper cuts while tearing up stacks of papers, I started to get a bit grumpy. This is not what I traveled half way around the world to do, and it is not what I spent years in University studying for. After a bit more tearing, I tried to find a positive way of looking at my experience as a human paper shredder. I decided that I could look at the experience in one of two ways:

  1. I am wasting my life and skills by tearing up papers for money
  2. I am getting paid a pretty good amount of money to tear up papers while living in Japan

I decided to go for the second option and get through my shift.

In the evening I met up with all the early shift teachers at the izakaya and did my best to catch up on my drinking. I talked to a former NOVA teacher from Canada who was now working as a foreign recruiter for Japanese companies in Tokyo. He told me that foreign accountants with a CPA could find work in Tokyo for a starting salary of 9 million yen (about $100,000 CAD). I have a university degree with a major in accounting, I just need to get my professional designation.

I really enjoy living in Japan, so it was inspiring to know that there is a way in the future to actually use my university education while staying here. Sounds like a good reason to improve my Japanese!

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March 25, 2005 – The empty lesson king

Another 2 empty lessons today. I am the empty lesson KING!

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March 24, 2005 – 4 empty lessons!

I tied a personal record today with 4 empty lessons. Not only that, but they were all in a row! Thankfully NOVA pays us even when there are no students.

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March 3, 2005 – Empty classrooms

I am not sure why, but almost nobody came for English lessons today. There were 6 teachers scheduled, but all of the lessons could have been covered by 3 people.

Unlike some other English schools, NOVA pays teachers for the amount of lessons they are available to teach, whether the lesson has students or not. For this reason, teachers are expected to find something productive to do around the branch if they have an empty lesson.

Full time teachers are scheduled for 8 lessons in a shift. I would have had a record tying 4 empty lessons if I hadn’t convinced the staff to get one of the students to stay for another lesson. At least I didn’t have to go hand out tissues at the nearby train station like I did before!

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November 8, 2003 – Lazy teacher

Original Post

Man I love Saturdays at Keikyu! I had a no show for my last lesson, so I sat in the teacher`s room and read a book and sent email with my phone.

2013 Update

As someone who takes a lot of pride in their work, reading my original post really made me cringe. NOVA was one of the few English schools that paid you even if students didn’t show up for lessons. If you were scheduled for 5 lessons, you got paid for 5 lessons even if nobody was there. In turn, the expectation is that when you have a free lesson that you find something productive to do in the office, and not just sit around reading and texting.

Kawasaki NOVA was always insanely busy, so nobody had ever needed to explain what I should do if I had an empty lesson. A few weeks after this original post, I was in the same situation and a senior teacher explained the priorities. The job list for free lessons included:

  • Preparation of kids class materials – there was always some colouring, stapling or glueing that needed to be done for kids classes.
  • Lesson preparation – ensuring that you were prepared for your upcoming lessons and reviewing or improving your current lessons
  • Maintenance of student files – removing old students, replacing folders that were falling apart
  • Tidying the office – teachers are generally very messy and there were always files, books and other things lying around the office
  • Assisting the staff

From that time forward, whenever I saw a new teacher sitting around doing nothing I was able to get them working.

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