Culture · Culture Shock · Education · Elementary School Education · Jr. High School Education · Living in Japan · Teaching

Broken Hearted

I am beyond furious right now.

Things started yesterday at my favorite elementary school. I noticed that the teachers were looking at me gloomly, but I assume that it had something to do with the terrible weather we were having. I quickly found out that I would be changing schools. The school had been called that morning and given the news. No debate. No explanation. Nothing. Just that “Katherine will not be your ALT next semester.” When I heard the news, I started crying at my desk. I am sure that some will read that as me just being over emotional, but I am really attached to this group of students. I have only been at the school for a year now, but that year has not been a full school year. I came to the school in the middle of the school year last year, and now I am leaving them in the middle. I won’t get to see my 6th graders graduate. I won’t get to help coach the kids for their soccer tournament in October. I won’t get to help with the school culture festival in November. I won’t get to be there at all. The worst part, myself or my schools were not even consulted on the matter. The Board of Education just decided and told this school “this is happening.”

As if it wasn’t bad enough, my Jr. high is getting changed as well. This is the first Jr. high school where students have not sexually harassed me (either verbally or physically). I am sure you all remember my post a while back about the severe sexually harassment I had to endure at one school. It was a breath of fresh air coming to this school. I was used as more than just a CD player in the classroom. The kids respected me and had some great conversations with me. I encourage two girls to try to participate in the city’s speech contest and they decided to do it because of my encouragement. Nope, this school is also being taken away from me…after being here for only 3 months.

Now, the two schools they currently have me assigned to are not even in the city I live in…but the next city over. That means I have to ride my bike over 11 km every day just to get to and from school. I have clearly developed some arthritis type symptoms in my knees, so I know I am not going to be able to handle that. Not only that, but when my Jr. high teacher heard the name of the Jr. high school I was assigned to, he told me that it is known as a problem school and that I would probably face some sexual harassment from the students. Great.

Today, the school’s principles went to the Board of Education for a meeting where they were supposed to get some explanation as to why the changes were being made (I am not the only ALT being switched). But, there was none. The only thing they said was that an ALT was leaving (we all knew this back in January) and that there was no one to replace them. I am going to call them on their bullshit. They didn’t even try to find a replacement. The person who is leaving is on the same program as me, but that program has been cut. Has the Board of Education said anything about this? No. It’s like they are trying to cover it up and now my schools are going to suffer because of it.

My elementary school students will be devastated. The teachers and I are still trying to figure out the proper way to tell them about me leaving. Although, I am going to raise hell at the next staff meeting. There is no way they can expect me to go to the next city over with bad knees. Not to mention that they did not even consult anyone about these changes and just made them without thinking how the schools, students, or ALTs would feel. I am keeping one of my elementary schools, but it is the school that is starting to cause problems and is no longer fun for me to teach at. Out of my three schools, if I could keep any of them I would keep the other elementary school.

I am very tempted to tell the Board of Education that I quit. I am sick of them pulling crap like this and only thinking in numbers. My Jr. high fought for 2 years to get an ALT to come more than once a week because the ALT 1) could not visit all the classes 2) students and parents complained about the lack of an ALT presence and 3) they only had company ALTs who would often quit mid year. With me coming to the school, they finally had an ALT come twice a week. Now, that hard fought battle was for nothing. Now, they are back to where they started with a company ALT only coming once a week. My favorite elementary school is also getting a company person.

I am so pissed off right now that I can’t even put it into words. When I got home from work yesterday, I opened the door in tears and cried for a good 30 minutes before I was able to explain to Jun why I was upset. I had promised Jun I would go out with him and some of his friends last night, so I held it together long enough to get through dinner, but told him that I was going home the moment we left the place. I was not going to be able to make it though karaoke without crying. I cried the entire walk home, in the shower, and until I fell asleep.

I can’t believe that the Board of Education can treat the schools like this. My Jr. high school is livid. Yesterday was the first time I have seen some of my elementary school teachers cry. I can’t even imagine how the students will react when we give them the bad news. The elementary school and I are still debating about how to go about that. The elementary school I am keeping I have been at now for 3 years. If any school were to change in this mess, it should be this one. If I could keep any of my schools, I would keep my elementary school. I have never had this strong a connect with a group of students ever. When they see me outside of school, they always greet me and try their best to use the English that they are learning. At school, I have never had a bad class with them and I can actually teach the class without their teacher there. Tomorrow, the Board of Education is coming to observe my class at the school. I hope that I have the chance to just tell them “Please do not take me away from these students.” I promised the 6th graders that I would be with them until they graduated. I promised the 5th graders that I would help coach them for their soccer tournament. I promised both grades that I would help them with their school festival preparations in October. Now, it looks like I won’t get to keep any of those promises and I am totally crushed.

Right now, I am almost ready to quit.


5 thoughts on “Broken Hearted

  1. I’m sorry to hear this news, I really wish there was something I could do for you. I hope you will be alright.

    But I’ve heard lots of stories like this from the alt program… Its a shame, really the students are suffering.

    1. It really is. The schools I am being switched to have only had their ALT for 3 months as well. Now that Jun has found a job, I am seriously considering leaving this one. Currently looking for work somewhere else. A few schools are looking for an English teacher.

  2. Since KET has been terminated, anyway, so the benefits of being on a program are going away, it’s really starting to look like maybe you should start job-hunting. Especially if Jun has a job now (yay Jun)! You shouldn’t have to keep putting up with this.

    1. As much as I really want to switch jobs now, I need to put in one more year – at least until Jun graduates. I think I might try getting just a part time job and then use my free time to take some teaching classes or try something new. I know I could use some more time at the gym for stress relief.

  3. I’m really sorry to hear about this. I know you’re a good teacher. There are just some things about Japanese culture I will never understand. But I hope you are able to keep teaching somewhere.

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