Posts Tagged Kawasaki NOVA

April 8, 2004 – Sprinting in a suit

Today was a chaotic day. The fun all started at 4:00am, when I was woken up by some drunk gaijins playing soccer in the street right outside my window. There is no grass anywhere nearby, so the sounds of the soccer players and the ball were bouncing off all the concrete. After about 5 minutes of listening to kicking and bouncing, I went outside and asked them very nicely to move their game, which they did. It took me about an hour to get back to sleep.

Before work I tried to get some Playstation time. While playing, I spilled a 600ml bottle of Coke on the floor. My lightning fast video game reflexes allowed me to pick it up very quickly, which caused Coke to spray everywhere in the room. I got Coke on my futon, couch, clothes, Playstation controller, CDs and stereo.

I got everything cleaned up and expected that the rest of the day would move along smoothly. WRONG. Just before leaving Hello House I got a call from work telling me that due to some scheduling issues, my first 2 lessons would be at Kawasaki NOVA and my last 3 lessons would be at Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. There are 10 minutes between lessons, and walking from one school to the other takes about 5 minutes. To avoid a big rush, I left for work extra early, went to Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA and planned all my lessons. After that I went to Kawasaki NOVA and got those lessons ready. Everything was organized and there would be no panic.

At Kawasaki NOVA I taught one lesson then a Voice class, before quickly leaving the building and walked the 500 meters to Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. When I arrived I saw that the schedule had changed, and I was now listed as having “break”. I asked the staff to confirm, so they called Kawasaki NOVA and found out that I was now on the schedule there, and had one minute to get back. Since we are fined for being late for lessons, rushed out the door and sprinted back to Kawasaki NOVA, wearing my suit and wondering how I was going to find out who I was teaching and how I would somehow pull a lesson out of my ass with no planning.

I dodged and weaved my way through the dense foot traffic and managed to get back in 3 minutes, panting and sweating. When I got inside I learned that I didn’t actually have a lesson after all. I got to spend the rest of the class period filing in the teachers room before once again leaving for Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA to finish my last two lessons. Good times!

(2014 Update) This is a good example of how disorganized the large NOVA schools could be, especially when they shared teachers with a nearby satellite branch. My job satisfaction increased a lot when I later transferred to smaller schools.

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March 20, 2004 – Time flies

I think the 10 minutes between classes is getting shorter every day. Today I had my ass handed to me by a very busy schedule.

(2014 Update)

Typical NOVA lessons were 40 minutes long with 10 minute breaks in between. In the 10 minutes between lessons teachers had to return to the teacher’s room, give rankings and write comments on all students, pass along the files to the next teacher or refile the student folders, check the schedule for changes, and then get ready for the next lesson. Bathroom breaks usually meant writing up comments or refiling student files later.

Most teacher’s rooms were narrow closet like environments with a bunch of people moving around quickly trying not to knock each other over. In large schools like Kawasaki there were not enough seats for all teachers to sit down between lessons, so many comments were filled out while standing and trying not to be in the way.

I liked most of the people at Kawasaki NOVA, but hated the pace of work some days.

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March 13, 2004 – The Great Sasuke is not always a great topic

The Great Sasuke

Yesterday in voice class I had some success with the topic of “The Great Sasuke”. Masanori Murakawa, aka The Great Sasuke, was a Japanese professional wrestler turned politician. Sasuke was elected to the Iwate Prefectural Assembly in 2003, and refused to remove his mask when serving in office. In fact, he rarely (if ever) removes his mask in public at all. I got the students to discuss if they thought it was okay for an elected official to wear a wrestling mask while on the job. From there the students came up with a list of appropriate and inappropriate accessories for a politician, including jeans, sombreros, Elton John glasses, etc. The topic went well and the students got some good practice agreeing and disagreeing.

Today I attempted the same topic again with four different students. 3 out of 4 were really enjoying the topic, and the other student started giving answers like “I don’t care”. At one point I asked him a question and he looked directly at me, didn’t say a word, then started playing with his cell phone. I have never had such a strong negative reaction before. Maybe my student was actually Sasuke without the mask?

(partial rewrite of original post)

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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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