If I survive tomorrow, I probably won’t emerged unscathed. Luckily, I’ve already had enough children.
You see, I’m going to teach at an elementary school tomorrow.
The best way to describe why what’s going to happen tomorrow is going to happen is “drip, drip, drip”. Five years ago or so, the company for which I work started tweaking the way they do things.
Prior to five years ago or so, one of the perks of the job (in fact, the only real bonus we got) was summers off with full pay. (That’s the 6-8 week Japanese school year summer.) However, a few years ago, we got a schedule with something called “work days” listed through out the summer.
After a short protest, we were assured it was nothing applicable to us at the school where I work. The very next year, it was applicable and we were required to produce some kind of work: we could produce lesson plans or teaching materials or we could work at NGOs not related to the company. (Which some of us did.)
If we didn’t do any of those things, we were expected to take a paid holiday or we wouldn’t get paid for the day.
As time went on, the rules for submission got more and more complicated, sometimes requiring multiple submissions, and we had an extra layer of fake management put between us and the real management. (Long story; short version: firewalls.) We also started having training sessions one time, then two times and now three times a year with the higher tier fake management. The training sessions are always scheduled during times we might be tempted to sneak off for a vacation.
The newest rules tell us we have to actually be in Japan, on call and ready to go to work and if we are not called we are then expected to produce the lesson plan, etc. and that the material and/or the reports can’t be sent in before noon. This essentially traps us in our homes in the morning during what used to be days off.
The final drip occurred this month when they finally insisted we do substitutions at other schools. I’d told them that, since we didn’t have a choice, they could at least respect our seniority by giving us a week’s notice rather than calling us up and sending us out at the last minute.
In their defense, that’s what they did, but the way it was done was via drip, drip, drip too. (In a nutshell: an email, a call to say we’d be on stand-by; a second call with “oh by the way, there is a morning assignment” and then an email with “thanks for agreeing to work all day at this school”.
I haven’t worked in an elementary school for almost 16 years and I’m not sure they realize I don’t have the materials I think I’m expected to have. My elementary school self-defense reflexes are also rusty, so I hope I remember enough karate to keep myself safe.
If I survive unscathed, I’ll have some time off to consider the future. Just to make sure, I’ve already requested a paid holiday in January on a day I know it’s most likely I’d be sent out as a substitute.