Gaijin Smash

Bad Moon Rising

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on June 5, 2007

When I took this new teaching job, they told me they wanted me to be an “Active ALT.” In other words, it wouldn’t be enough to just go to class and be the obedient English teaching monkey. They wanted me to get involved–join the kids in their sports clubs, go to school events and activities, etc. I considered this, to some degree, unfair–the teachers who are responsible for the sports clubs don’t even go sometimes!* Not to mention that many teachers, in their free periods, would stack up some student notebooks, use them as a pillow, and take a nice nap, or retreat to the back room for a smoke break. But fine, whatever, if I wasn’t in class, I was probably bored at my desk, and I liked interacting with the kids anyway.
*I’ve found that the teachers’ involvement in the sports clubs tends to be hit or miss. It seems like they get assigned a club almost randomly. Sometimes, they end up being the coach for a club they know nothing about. The home economics teacher back at the School of Peace was somehow assigned to Girls Basketball. The poor woman would just stand there and say things like “Okay…now dribble! Good. Now shoot! Good. Hey, is it legal for you to drop-kick your defender like that?” The industrial arts teacher was somehow assigned Girls Badminton. I was talking to him one day, and he was telling me that he had no idea what he was doing–he showed me a badminton magazine he’d bought, and to try and look convincing as the badminton coach, he’d sometimes tell the girls something he mind-copy/pasted from the magazine. Then sometimes, you’d have the teachers who got a wee bit over-zealous…like Noisy Fucker, who went to practice every day, with his bull horn. “Hey. Tanaka-kun. You call that running? Run faster. Hey. Yamamoto-kun. I’ve seen grandmothers take better swings than that. You call yourself a tennis player? And don’t think I don’t see you Takahashi-kun. You think that racket is just going to swing itself?”
Anyway, so I was going to have to be an active ALT. Fine by me. However, this school was quite large, and in order to get me going to as many classes as possible, I was going to four, five, even six periods a day. This is quite a full schedule. So when I did actually have a free period, I choose to go back to my desk and use the opportunity to relax between classes. However, the vice principal, perhaps, did not see it that way. If I was sitting at my desk, he began to come by and ask me to do certain things–translate something here, take something there, recommend my participation in something some class is doing in the dungeons of the schools. I don’t mind being helpful, but there was something about the way he asked me to do these things…as if he was trying to force me to work.


One day, the week before the students would be taking their big midterm exams, the VP came up to my desk, in a rare moment when I didn’t have class. He said that the students were holding special study sessions for the tests after school–wouldn’t I drop by and help the kids with English? Kind of a hard offer to turn down, so I said I would. Not long after school ended, the VP came by my desk again, and offered to take me to the study room.
Upon arriving, we found a few of the math teachers already there. Apparently, the teachers and students had decided to work together and organize the study sessions. Yesterday had been English–today was math. The math teachers had prepared practice worksheets for the students to work on, and were helping students and answering questions.
Now, everyone had at least one subject in school that they just weren’t good at. For me, it was math. That shit started in the 1st grade for me–if someone asked me what 2 + 2 was, I pulled out my calculator and used it to smash them in the face as I ran away, screaming and crying. Nothing changed much throughout the years–except in high school, they gave us those big graphing calculators so the Calculator Face Smash could really do some damage, and considering I was now a large black man, the crying and screaming was made even more magnificent. Going into university, I foolishly choose a computer science major, believing that my love of computers would somehow cancel out my hatred of math…. I realize now that this was a lot like trying to believe that my love of women would somehow cancel out being held down by a group of them and having them throw chunks of glacier ice at my testicles.
So, I kind of thought that this was the end of my involvement in the study day. Nope. The VP turns to me and says, “Well, you can at least help them with math, right?”
Let me tell you, it took every fiber of restraint in my being not to smash a Casio in his face.
I explained that I was terrible at math, and he pointed out that as I’d graduated college, I should at least be able to do junior high school math. Obviously, he wasn’t going to give me any slack on the issue, and furthermore, he himself stayed put, ensuring I couldn’t make a silent ninja escape. The VP got an extra worksheet and handed it to me. I found an empty desk and prepared to call on all the hidden math reserves I had left in my brain to start working on it. As much as I didn’t like his tone, he did have a point–I must have at least passed some level of math in order to graduate from high school, and college. I promised the Math Gods I’d sacrifice a 18 year-old Japanese Virgi…er…I’d sacrifice an 18 year-old American Virgin later (don’t wanna make any impossible promises here).
All right, problem 1. Junior high school math. Can’t be that hard, right?
1. Find x: 23x – (56x * -298)^3 = 41Q – NCC-1701D * 525,600M / (^3^) + η‰Œ
What the fuck is this shit?
A student comes by and sees me stressing over the problem, and actually somehow solves it. I’m fairly convinced he sold his soul to Satan to do so. However, considering that this was only problem 1, and the problems got progressively harder…yeah, I wasn’t going to be of any math help today. The VP, still not letting me go, begins to walk around and ask students if they need any English help…but this is obviously a math day, so they’re not interested. Only when the VP is convinced that there’s absolutely, positively nothing I could have done to be of service there, did he let me go.
The whole incident left a bad taste in my mouth. This, and other similar incidents, led me to believe that the VP was trying to force me to do things–as if I was a lazy, uncultured slob otherwise. I didn’t like that too much. As I said before, I didn’t mind getting involved in other activities at the school, but I hated the idea of being forced to do it. Especially when they were already dumping loads of classes into my lap.
My class load wasn’t going well either. Aside from the difficulty of four to six classes a day, the teachers were increasingly coming by, and with anywhere from five minutes to 30 seconds before class, asking me, “So…do you have any plans for today’s class?” And it wasn’t like I could just bust out Game Time, or Nap Time, or Everybody Wang Chung Time, they were expecting me to come up with actual, instructional content lesson plans in the span of one hot minute. Man, it’s a good thing I went through teacher training and got my certification to do this kind of work…wait…no, I don’t have any sort of teacher credentials, at all.
Add to that that the teachers were also starting to just leave the entire class to me. They’d go take a seat in the back of the class, and maybe chime in occasionally if they had something interesting to say (but usually not). Isn’t this supposed to be “team teaching”? Maybe I’m not hip to today’s lingo, but I wasn’t aware that “team” meant one of you do the work while the other chillaxes in the back. Perhaps we should start calling it “Los Angeles Lakers Teaching”?
So basically, I’m going to 90-100% of the classes in a day, having to do 90-100% of the work for them, and then in my few moments of not actually working, go be involved in the school. I know I’ve said “I’m becoming Japanese” before, but I really didn’t mean it! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all opposed to working hard. What I AM opposed to is getting taken advantage of, and this situation is starting to stink worse than Mr. Atomic Bomb’s daily morning shits.
I’m really starting to not like this…

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89 Responses

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  1. Kyle E said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:40 am

    Dude that sucks. Maybe it’s already time to find another job? For the time being at least you have one and can support yourself. So now that you have that option rather than just running around “I NEED A JOB” you can take a lil time deciding.
    BTW: I’m gona be staying in Kyoto for a month from June 21-July 21. I’m doing a program through UCR. Maybe we can meet up or something?

  2. Mayhem said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:42 am

    Oh dear poor Az! Towards the end of that I was beginning to think “he’s now working like a real Japanese person!” and you go and sum that up in the last paragraph. And don’t worry, I’m exceeding good at general maths, but I’d struggle with a complex equatic problem like that too…

  3. Shamie said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:43 am

    I had a sudden urge to say “ganbare” or whatever the word is they use when they mean to say, “You’re fucked and should suck it up and live with it because that’s what we do.” I’m sure you’re making an impact on these kid’s lives, even if you are horrible at math (I hate math too *persists loathing*).
    (^3^) = lmao ❀

  4. Gordon said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Question time!
    Have you tried should try asking THEM if they have a class ready before they can ask you?
    You’re at two schools now, right? I wonder if the other’s any better.
    Am I the first comment?

  5. Saben said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:58 am

    Gaman is the word, Shamie. “Ganbare” is “do your best”, “Gaman” is “put up with it, bitch”.
    But Az, just think you are doing the work of a real Japanese teacher for the pay of a real Japanese teacher… right? ….right…..?

  6. Amanda said, on June 5, 2007 at 5:00 am

    Hi Az,
    The school I taught in in Tokyo last year used to exploit us native speakers something terrible as well. On one particular day I started at 8am and taught with no breaks between classes up until 10pm! Not even 5 minutes to eat. The Japanese staff were relaxing on their lunch break as I struggled to quickly photocopy something and run back to my class.
    It does stink. It is exploitation. What did I do in the end? Just left without giving my notice (plenty of illegal stuff going on too) when it was time for me to go back to the UK.
    Good luck. Hope you get it sorted.

  7. Sven said, on June 5, 2007 at 5:31 am

    I work in Kita-ku, Tokyo as an AET, like you in 4 different Elementary schools. However, the Kita-ku BOE doesn’t seem to understand the concept of team teaching either.
    I create lesson plans and curriculums for all six grades while having no less than 5 lessons a day. I also teach solo.
    The thing is it seems that Kita-ku is the only ku in Tokyo that is like this as I’ve experienced through substitute work.
    The good thing about your situation is that you have something to do in your free time, I sit at my desk for the most part staring at the wall for 3 hours after my final lesson most days. It does allow me to study Japanese a bit, but what I wouldn’t give to be positioned at a nice JHS with sporting clubs and study groups every now and again.

  8. Jason said, on June 5, 2007 at 5:40 am

    Doesn’t sound like very much fun at all. Perhaps the VP is just trying to get his power fix from bossing you around cause he can’t with the other Japanese teachers. Well whatever the reasons it still must suck.
    Making me somewhat anxious about where I end up (0_0;)
    Surely there must be some good schools to work as an ALT out there somewhere ya

  9. Misty said, on June 5, 2007 at 5:51 am

    I sympathise with you on the math bit. God knows how I even managed to graduate, and on top of passing math classes I had to pass the math portion of a hard 3 part test needed to graduate in addition to passing all required classes.
    I still have to count on my fingers for simple problems.

  10. Jimbotheclown said, on June 5, 2007 at 6:17 am

    Wow. That Star Trek reference was nice and subtle. I almost missed it.

  11. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Theres a little english word i like to use in situations like that perhaps your time in japan has made you forget it? The word is “No.” “Hey can you help teach math?” “No. Now move out of my way.” “Hey you got a plan for class?” “No. Thats your job your the teacher im just an alt do your damn job.” “Hey i want you to get involved with some clubs and-” “NO! I don’t have time for this ask someone else. Their your kids i didn’t take them to raise.” When you feel someone is exploiting you call attention to it in class. Shame the other teacher in front of the students for not caring enough to get involved with the lesson plan. Put it back on them or flat out refuse to play their game. Man up dude. Quit being a victim.

  12. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Theres a little english word i like to use in situations like that perhaps your time in japan has made you forget it? The word is “No.” “Hey can you help teach math?” “No. Now move out of my way.” “Hey you got a plan for class?” “No. Thats your job your the teacher im just an alt do your damn job.” “Hey i want you to get involved with some clubs and-” “NO! I don’t have time for this ask someone else. Their your kids i didn’t take them to raise.” When you feel someone is exploiting you call attention to it in class. Shame the other teacher in front of the students for not caring enough to get involved with the lesson plan. Put it back on them or flat out refuse to play their game. Man up dude. Quit being a victim.

  13. Jay said, on June 5, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Absolutely loving the Creedence title there mate.
    Don’t let the bastards ride you like an express train, okay? You were employed there, you weren’t sold there by a slave master.

  14. Katie said, on June 5, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Hey Az,
    Maybe it would be better if you did up some generic lesson plans in your spare time (probably at home…as you don’t seem to have any spare time at school). I know it doesn’t sound like fun but if you get some generic lessons plans done you’ll be covered for when your teachers trap you with a few minutes til class time. Your stress levels should reduce a bit if you can just grab a piece of paper with an outline for an activity or presentation style. I’m sure if you google you’ll come up with heaps of ideas! It sounds really boring and as though it’s not part of your job description but you’ll probably find that you’ll have to come up with lessons more and more as the teachers realise that they can spring it on you. All the best!

  15. roflmao said, on June 5, 2007 at 8:30 am

    LOL! NCC-1701D

  16. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Since when do the Enterprise and Picard constitute elements of Japanese junior high school math?

  17. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Since when do the Enterprise and Picard constitute elements of Japanese junior high school math?

  18. Thomas in Japan said, on June 5, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Hey Az:
    Fellow ALT here who is experiencing the same “bad moon rising” as you currently are. My previous teaching job, I was working at several JHs with terrific teachers and great staff. Now I am working at 1 large Junior High with 6 English teachers, and they are all moody, rude, unfriendly, and treat me like I am in the way. They rudely shoo me away whenever I ask them about what they want to do for an upcoming class, they wait until 3 minutes before class to tell me their plans, then they throw a hissy fit if they don’t execute their lesson plan down to the most minute detail.
    Also like you, the VP/Kyotou-sensei is a jackass. During my first month, he refused to stamp his hanko on my timesheet because “it’s too small for me to read!”. In the 30 years of my company’s existance, they *NEVER* had any VP complain about their time sheet. It was a mess and I ended up getting paid late as a result of this assclown.
    But when things get down, I always try to remember that one of the main reasons I decided to become an ALT was the chance to get to Japan, get established, and launch onto better things…I think this fascinating country has so much to offer beyond teaching, and that’s what I hope to uncover down the road. So keep your spirits up and hang in there! You’re definitely not alone in your plight…

  19. Ted said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Dude,
    Gaijinsmash them!

  20. Dirty Dan said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Hey, I didn’t know mahjong tiles* were a mathematical function…
    *NB: Database’d, I’m no kanji otaku.

  21. Kohaku said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:55 am

    You poor, poor thing! You ARE becoming Japanese! Dont you just LOVE been exploited and taken advantage of? Maybe you should start hiding….steal the secret of their teleportation from your girlfriend! lol…
    I feel you, I cant do most math to save my life. Algebra and Trig I can do…(not THAT problem tho, WTF???) but basic math? Not even. I got through math classes by being the biggest teacher’s pet ever, and conning them into changing my grades…using those powers of persuasion…and tears….lol…You’ll be aright….right??? Good luck with that…..

  22. chucky said, on June 5, 2007 at 10:30 am

    dude, i hate to say it, but “i told you so”. maybe you didnt read it, or maybe you didnt care. but like i said…dont do Jr. High school. Elementary is MUCH easier, and YOU have all the control! the fact that you are not taking a stand now, is only gonna make it harder on you later. i know its your own fault (dont get me wrong, i like reading your stuff), but as a fellow ALT, i hate to see you suffer! get out while you can! run az, ruuuuun!

  23. RecurveHawk said, on June 5, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Math was and still is my good subject. I used to leave yellow puddles on/under my chair at the thought of history and other social studies-type classes (except for geography, which rules). Biology is also a bit of a nightmare class for me unless it can be put in terms of archery, reaction tanks, equations, or involves being outdoors. Math, chemistry, or geography anyone?

  24. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 10:58 am

    ah… az, you really are turning japanese…
    i see your skin color turning paler, your height getting shorter, your hair getting straighter, your peni- well, you get the idea…
    seriously…
    not once have to said anything to object to the situations you’ve been handed and instead choose to “quietly deal with it.”
    seems like that’s all the japanese employees do, like my wife here in nyc for a certain japanese beer company…
    ganbare, ne!

  25. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 10:58 am

    ah… az, you really are turning japanese…
    i see your skin color turning paler, your height getting shorter, your hair getting straighter, your peni- well, you get the idea…
    seriously…
    not once have to said anything to object to the situations you’ve been handed and instead choose to “quietly deal with it.”
    seems like that’s all the japanese employees do, like my wife here in nyc for a certain japanese beer company…
    ganbare, ne!

  26. Zantetsu said, on June 5, 2007 at 11:00 am

    I know you’ve been there for several years now but I have to say it: Welcome to Japan. They don’t care if you the awesome you show us here. To them you’re just an (black) American who’ll try to slack off or even worse, stole a position of a fellow compatriot…
    It happens occasionally here in Malta where a foreigner has taken a full-time employment in a busy white-collar workplace. Most of the fellow employees and higher-ups tend to push a lot of workload on them for: A) Taking advantage of them and B) Trying to squeeze as much as they can out of them before they are fed up and leave.
    As I probably told you before, never forget who you are and stay that way.

  27. SK said, on June 5, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Dude, as much as I love reading this blog, I felt that this post was the most whiny one of them all. Must’ve been because a friend of mine is currently working part-time as a teacher in a school of the same education level as jr high in japan and he just blew his nuts off bitching about how the school tries to take advantage of lowly-paid part-timers like him by forcing him to do anything and everything. And your post is looking more and more like my friend’s each time I read it over. Well, at least yours had humour.
    P.s Is it just me, or do asians personify and almost symbolize the meaning of “People only notice when you do something bad, never when you do something good.” I’m asian, and somehow I feel that to be almost 90% true. Heh.

  28. Travis said, on June 5, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Shit, stand up and say something. Bring the VP or even the P (>.>) into a class where this is happening. Maybe the VP won’t do anything about it, but you never know.. it’s worth trying. If you like the job, don’t just let something like that fuck it up.

  29. Az's Penis said, on June 5, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    You used to have time for me. What ever happened to the free periods we used to share?

  30. Colin said, on June 5, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Is there a reason when he asked you to help with the math problems that you couldn’t just say no? Maybe I’m more stubborn than you, Az, but I don’t think I’d even be willing to try in that situation.

  31. Tanaka Taro said, on June 5, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Wow, even more reasons you must be so glad you’re not teaching anymore!

  32. Jason said, on June 5, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    While there is no ‘I’ in team, there sure’s a fuck an ME.

  33. GringoDownSouth said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    As other commenters said, perhaps the problem is that you are a “nice guy” and don’t like to let down others, especially the kids. To break this viscous circle of work and more work I suggest a vigorous Gaijin Kancho to the VP the next time he trys to boss you around.

  34. John said, on June 5, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Sounds like it’s time for a Gaijin Smash.

  35. Rita said, on June 5, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Can’t you just tell Mr. VP to fuck off?

  36. Drew said, on June 5, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Listen Az, I had the same problem as an ALT. Here’s my take on the situation. You’ve become too Japanized. In America you would have a nice calm talk with your boss about your expected roles and duties, and you’d get things sorted out fairly quickly and easily. But you, and me, we don’t do that here, cause though we didn’t mean to, we have absorbed the culture and cultural expectations to a large degree. We know what it would mean in Japanese culture to have a “talk” with the vp about your work load and how you’re being treated. In Japanese culture, amongst JAPANESE, that’s “unthinkable.” But at the end of the day, you and I (clearly) are not Japanese. We shouldn’t try to live like them. Respect them, sure, but we’ve got to be us. Have that talk my friend, get it worked out. Don’t bow down to the subliminal controls and expectations of the culture surrounding you! Fight the power! G’luck.

  37. AutumnFire said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    While many comments suggested to “Just Say No” to your VP Asshat, perhaps they don’t understand in Japan, one cannot do that. May I suggest instead that you turn it around on him? Channel a Passive-aggressive personality and let the fun begin!
    Start with VP Asshat coming to you at your desk and taking a breath and opening his mouth. You leap up, take large, looming steps to him and say loudly, “Thank goodness you’re here! I’ve been stuck with this horrible problem and you’re just the man I need to see!” Commence showing him some made-up difficulty such as “Do you think this concept is above the kids in this school? It wasn’t at the previous schools I worked at–even the really bad ones, but the kids here…well! They ARE a challenge, aren’t they? Now I could approach this concept this way or this way or this way–that won’t get the PTA upset will it? I certainly hold the greatest respect for them and I want to give my utmost! Anyway, this teaching concept, do you think it’s too much (or not enough) to…etc., etc., etc.”
    Let the bullshit commence. Dude, you so want to do it. Admit it. We won’t think less of you. If you need help thinking up big, steaming piles of verbal bullshit, email me.
    (Az’s Note: Lol, I like the way you think.)

  38. Azrael said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Much as Drew said above, confronting the VP, telling him to fuck off, or flat-out saying no, would have been unthinkable in Japanese terms. It would have only served to make an already bad situation worse.
    The right move here would have been to have a talk with the company that was employing me. Let them know I wasn’t happy with the situation (without blowing it up into an incident) and hopefully they could have talks with the principal and VP and work out a situation beneficial for all. Yeah, a lot of unnecessary hoops and jumps and what not, but that’s just how Japan works.
    However, the job was really only supposed to be temporary. I was filling in for someone who’d quit mid-year. The contract ended in March. I figured I would would until the end of the contract, not renew, and hopefully have found a new job by then. With only 4 months or so to go, it wasn’t worth it to kick up a shitstorm just to leave anyway. I was hoping I could ride it out until March…but things didn’t quite work out that way…
    It’s important not to forget that I am American, not Japanese, therefore I’m used to a different way/standard of doing things. But at the same time, this isn’t America, this is Japan. If a Japanese person came to America and tried to do things the Japanese way, I’d bet good money everyone would tell him “You’re in America now son, get with the program!” There’s a time and a place for the Gaijin Smash, and this wasn’t really one of them.

  39. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Someone needs to send Az every Rage Against the Machine album ever made and force him to listen to them all back to back until he has his next class. Walk in there good and pissed off and ready to explode on someone for that shit. It would only take once and i swear it wont happen again. They havn’t seen a 6 foot anything up in their face yelling at them for something they did before. You’ll scare the shit out of them and make some fans among the students in the process.

  40. Anonymous said, on June 5, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Someone needs to send Az every Rage Against the Machine album ever made and force him to listen to them all back to back until he has his next class. Walk in there good and pissed off and ready to explode on someone for that shit. It would only take once and i swear it wont happen again. They havn’t seen a 6 foot anything up in their face yelling at them for something they did before. You’ll scare the shit out of them and make some fans among the students in the process.

  41. Patrick said, on June 5, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Have you considered biting him? When he walks up and starts to talk, just grab his face, tilt to the side, and bite down hard on his neck. Or maybe just bite his face. You’re bigger than him, just bite away!
    Or, you know, turn it back on him. Make him think that his school is so slow and boring that you spend your day working on hard-ass English projects just to give the kids a hard time.

  42. Ploin said, on June 5, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    dude, I feel your pain. I’m working my ass off too right now (although at least my employers are semi-grateful). Just push through it for now, and look for a different job on the side. Your better than the shit they throw at you.

  43. Sekani said, on June 6, 2007 at 12:01 am

    1. Find x: 23x – (56x * -298)^3 = 41Q – NCC-1701D * 525,600M / (^3^) + η‰Œ
    That’s easy. x = Optimus Prime
    Man, you really ARE bad at math.

  44. kongurous said, on June 6, 2007 at 12:09 am

    That math problem made me laugh really hard. As far as your situation goes, sad to see that real life is eating you alive. If this means you might not be able to update this anymore, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’LL DO! *sob*
    Ok, dramatics aside, I hope life eases up soon.

  45. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Just to come up with something different to comment on than other folks: I’m a quasiprofessional mathematician with an interest in pedagogy, and a while back got to take a look at some translated math problems from Japanese university entrance exams. And they’re really damn difficult. Far, far beyond what we ask even pretty bright students to do as part of regular classwork. It was close in scope to some of the mid-level problems from the high school math competitions (i.e. voluntary things for people who were actually gung-ho about math).
    So, yeah, while I don’t particularly respect your fear of math in general, I can buy the difficulties covering that material. It’s hard stuff and really not clued at all (in any US exam, we’d probably give the students a nudge in the direction of the right techniques; not so on the UECE).

  46. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Just to come up with something different to comment on than other folks: I’m a quasiprofessional mathematician with an interest in pedagogy, and a while back got to take a look at some translated math problems from Japanese university entrance exams. And they’re really damn difficult. Far, far beyond what we ask even pretty bright students to do as part of regular classwork. It was close in scope to some of the mid-level problems from the high school math competitions (i.e. voluntary things for people who were actually gung-ho about math).
    So, yeah, while I don’t particularly respect your fear of math in general, I can buy the difficulties covering that material. It’s hard stuff and really not clued at all (in any US exam, we’d probably give the students a nudge in the direction of the right techniques; not so on the UECE).

  47. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 2:08 am

    I suggest re-reading your contract and looking up some Japanese labor laws to see if there is anything to help you, if you decide to say “NO”.
    As a few others said, turn the tables on them. Ask them questions. With a subtle touch make them lose face when they try to do this shit to you.

  48. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 2:08 am

    I suggest re-reading your contract and looking up some Japanese labor laws to see if there is anything to help you, if you decide to say “NO”.
    As a few others said, turn the tables on them. Ask them questions. With a subtle touch make them lose face when they try to do this shit to you.

  49. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Well the first question is whether you’re directly employed by your BOE, or if you got your job through a company such as Interac.
    I don’t remember reading anything about that, but I’m under the impression you’re in the former situation. If that’s the case, you may feel you have much less leeway to complain, but you’re forgetting something: your contract is temporary anyway. The Japanese I know who work with such contracts don’t ever do overtime, except if it’s paid.
    About the various English teachers, turn the table around and use the system. Japanese won’t directly confront the suckers, but they will complain to either vice-principal or principal about the problem.
    By the way don’t forget you’ll always be a stranger anyway, so use it to your advantage.
    One last thing, as someone working in elementary schools, I can comfirm it’s much more interesting and easier than JHS/HS.

  50. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Well the first question is whether you’re directly employed by your BOE, or if you got your job through a company such as Interac.
    I don’t remember reading anything about that, but I’m under the impression you’re in the former situation. If that’s the case, you may feel you have much less leeway to complain, but you’re forgetting something: your contract is temporary anyway. The Japanese I know who work with such contracts don’t ever do overtime, except if it’s paid.
    About the various English teachers, turn the table around and use the system. Japanese won’t directly confront the suckers, but they will complain to either vice-principal or principal about the problem.
    By the way don’t forget you’ll always be a stranger anyway, so use it to your advantage.
    One last thing, as someone working in elementary schools, I can comfirm it’s much more interesting and easier than JHS/HS.

  51. Ray-Ray said, on June 6, 2007 at 4:48 am

    Az, theres something I have been wondering ever since you started writing about your time at the previous schools have ended and moved on to these two new schools. What ever happened to Ms. Americanized? Do you keep in contact with her after you left?

  52. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 4:59 am

    maybe the teachers leave english classes to you so they can have a rest, start getting them to do some stuff in class. or just take a break somewhere else, if he looks for you at your desk, go chill in some other area

  53. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 4:59 am

    maybe the teachers leave english classes to you so they can have a rest, start getting them to do some stuff in class. or just take a break somewhere else, if he looks for you at your desk, go chill in some other area

  54. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Maybe you should quit working as an ALT and become an English Teacher without team teaching. Especially in internationalized schools or schools with an at least partly internationalized or richer community, things might be quite different. You might actually determine yourself, what you do, not involved in extracurricular activities (unless you would like to) and also have very civilized students… There are schools out like this, maybe it is time to look for them ?

  55. Anonymous said, on June 6, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Maybe you should quit working as an ALT and become an English Teacher without team teaching. Especially in internationalized schools or schools with an at least partly internationalized or richer community, things might be quite different. You might actually determine yourself, what you do, not involved in extracurricular activities (unless you would like to) and also have very civilized students… There are schools out like this, maybe it is time to look for them ?

  56. raye said, on June 6, 2007 at 8:50 am

    I’ve never posted before but had to after reading what you wrote. I agree with what the other poster said, it’s time to look up some Japanese labor laws, it just seems unreasonable that you are teaching all those classes plus doing extra activities and don’t even get an hour/hour and a half break.
    I don’t know how different it is over there in Japan, but I would talk to the VP in private or his boss. What’s the worst they can do? Fire you? With all the work your doing I doubt if they would. I’d rather talk to the boss to straighten things out before its too late before your once enjoyable job turns into a living nightmare.

  57. Julio said, on June 6, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I’ve been reading your posts since OP9 and never commented, but the Rent reference (525,600M) drew me in… didn’t know you were into musicals.
    If you ever take a vacation and pass by Brazil, let me know. In the meantime, keep bringing on the weird!

  58. Nels said, on June 6, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Good entry, that.
    It’s important to realize that people are people, no matter where in the world you are. And people, more often than not, are dill-holes. Some people just tend to take a mile when you offer them an inch. And what do these spineless types respond to? Time to tattle on the cattle πŸ˜‰
    Chin up, Az!

  59. Prodigal Priest said, on June 6, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Math was one of the banes of my existence at school. You could hear my ears rapidly popping across the building due to the amount of times my brain farted.
    I’ve mentioned i was a custodian in the school district I lived in and have seen my fair share of stuff happen. What I’ve failed to mention is that I’m still only a -substitute- custodian. A third of the pay for the full workload and all the bullshit that comes with it :/ .
    The VP has a stick up his ass, but what are ya gonna do? You don’t seem like a masochist really, despite the gradual assimilation into Borg…. err, Japanese Society πŸ˜‰ . There are opportunities out there in your neck of the woods, it’s finding them that’ll prove to be difficult.
    Good luck and peace πŸ™‚ .

  60. AutumnFire said, on June 6, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    As much as I cringe to type this, think of your favorite former nemesis, NoisyFucker. Did the man not have verbal diarrhea? You’re clever with words, I’m sure you can unleash…spew forth…bust some verbal b.s. moves that will not only dazzle them with Gaijin Brilliance, but baffle them with Gaijin Bullshit!

  61. SlayersAngel said, on June 6, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Good luck finding an 18 year old American virgin…

  62. Saint Ebony said, on June 6, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    At least you’ve been Kancho free so far, right? Or are they coming so consistently that you don’t see any point in reporting it? πŸ˜›

  63. Mikelops said, on June 6, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    I felt really ashamed that i laughed at the Star Trek ref..

  64. DunnDeegan said, on June 7, 2007 at 12:43 am

    What did your contract say for class hours, and why would you agree to 4,5, and 6 classes a day? Either they are breaking the contract or you signed something you shouldn’t have. I hope you are getting paid well for the overtime your doing. Thats crazy, man. I thought about teaching in Japan, but If I do teach in a foreign country again, I think I’ll stick to Korea. Korea seems like a much better deal overall. I teach 17-20 classes a week or less if there are holidays, exams, tests, etc. The pay is also better than Japans I beleive…knowing you don’t have to pay for flights or accomodations in Korea. I guess you have a house now…but maybe this information could help someone in a similar situation in Japan…RUN!

  65. Anonymous said, on June 7, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Damn! That was an amazing number of references crammed into one equation. GG.

  66. Anonymous said, on June 7, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Damn! That was an amazing number of references crammed into one equation. GG.

  67. Wrath said, on June 7, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    a wise man once told me “You don’t necessarily need to work harder, but you should definitely work smarter.” i’m not in your field of work, but perhaps there is a way you can apply this saying.
    also, you were able to endure the other schools and all their bullshit in its entirety, so perhaps you will adapt and discover a better way to approach issues at the new job. Good luck!

  68. Anonymous said, on June 8, 2007 at 2:41 am

    Answer is 42.

  69. Anonymous said, on June 8, 2007 at 2:41 am

    Answer is 42.

  70. Greg said, on June 8, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    If it were everyone suffering together in unison, that would be one thing. But if it’s just you getting shit on because you’re the cheap foreign help… that sucks. I’m sorry that you’re not being treated better at the new school.
    As for lesson plans… do you have access to the New York Times, or maybe The Onion? Perhaps when you’re caught off guard you could pull up the most recent issue on the computer and bring a couple articles to class to have the kids translate and discuss. Assuming this isn’t way over their level. Or maybe, since I’m not a teacher and have no experience, I’ll shut up now.

  71. ama said, on June 8, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    I actually started trying to solve that math problem before I realized that it’s not possible to divide something by ^3^. (I THINK!? I HOPE!?!?)

  72. Spoon said, on June 9, 2007 at 5:37 am

    lol @ the stealthy star trek reference

  73. Jenna said, on June 11, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Maybe you should just start making up random lesson plans in your spare time so when a teacher pulls a “what do we do” you have something good.

  74. Robert said, on June 12, 2007 at 3:10 am

    As someone who did JET for a year, before coming to Tokyo and then doing the non-JET ALT thing for a year… all I can say is welcome to the real world.
    JET’s have it easy, no matter how hard people bitch, you just can’t realize until you try the professional ALT world of Japan. Basically it’s two ends of an extreme, and I never realized how easy I had it in JET until I was subbing at a school that had an Interac ALT and a JET ALT, and I had to be in suit and tie, and the JET was literally in flip-flops and a straw hat. Flatly put, private ALT’s are expected to do most of the work, from planning to execution, and unfortunately you don’t have the security of a JET contract… i.e. they will gladly complain about lack of motivation, poor planning, poor looks and so on.
    Thankfully I had a good list of lessons I learned from my year in JET and was able to use my previous experience for teaching most classes, but the pay and respect isn’t good, and the moment I got a chance, I finally got out of the English world, and actually into a decent job doing HR. Unfortunately, the best market for non-English jobs is Tokyo, and Japanese is a must unless you do IT, but after two years of English, working a real job pays better, comes with more respect, and has much more stability, and can actually be sold as decent work experience for when I do decide to go home to America.
    Hang in there Az, and don’t be afraid to go home at your contracted end hour, but be aware that they will be watching to see how into the job you are.

  75. Kimmykat said, on June 16, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I don’t know much about labor laws in Japan, but I doubt they are very enlightened…and labor laws for foreigners? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it true that the courts refuse to even pass laws making it illegal for stores and businesses to racially discriminate and refuse service and entry based upon nationality or appearance?
    After reading this and some of the comments, I now realize that I had it easy in Hokkaido. You could always come home, I got a great job for my university living in the dorms with the new Japanese exchange students and basically am being paid to be their friends and help them get oriented to America. With your experience and Japanese ability you would have no trouble finding a job that lets you work with Japanese students/tourists in America.
    I loved that comment about the 18 year old virgins. You might find this article amusing. http://www.samsloan.com/virgins.htm
    I disagree with Slayersangel, my friends and I were all virgins throughout Highschool, and a lot of us are still with our first boyfriends. Hell some of them are still virgins and they are in their early to mid-20s…but maybe we are the unusual ones.

  76. Spark said, on June 20, 2007 at 10:42 am

    My compassion to your situation is only outweighed by my feeling of utter dork-dom, which results from actually getting the Star Trek reference in that pseudo-equation.
    I don’t even watch and/or like Star Trek. I just have that stupid Micro-Machines collectible action-figure playset that I got as a kid, sitting who-fucking-knows-where-anymore in my room. Probably some drawer in my closet that I haven’t opened for 5 or 10 years just to spite whatever objects might be in it.
    Thankfully, I only know your situation via proximity and from the opposide side of the equation, as I remember my Japanese teacher freaking out about every other 5 minutes in regards to how much extra work every one of his 4 schools wanted him to do. Not to mention us driving him up the wall.
    Ahhh, those were good times. Talk a little slang he couldn’t understand here, write a few answers to a test on the edge of a desk there, and generally undermine every rule he puts into place; all the while telling him “We love you Nishida Sensei, you are a great teacher,” and learning a cumulative sum of jack-shit.
    Hang in there, and good luck.

  77. Leonidas said, on June 21, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Talking about TEAM: In german, it is just an abbreviation:
    TEAM = Toll, Ein Anderer Machts
    which means roughly:
    Great, somebody else takes care of it.
    And my experience in the last years in IT was often, that this approximates truth.

  78. Nick said, on July 9, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Isn’t NCC-1701D a ship designation?

  79. Anonymous said, on July 23, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    I feel your pain. I’m terrible at math also. If I was in the situation I would have just fallen into pieces. When I was living in Tokyo the lady I lived with had friends who wanted their daughters to learn English I did that as a way to make a little extra money.

  80. Anonymous said, on July 23, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    I feel your pain. I’m terrible at math also. If I was in the situation I would have just fallen into pieces. When I was living in Tokyo the lady I lived with had friends who wanted their daughters to learn English I did that as a way to make a little extra money.

  81. Anonymous said, on September 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    That sounds hellish.
    And what’s with all the half-ass advice people were trying to give him on here? As if they understood the situation? Please.

  82. Anonymous said, on September 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    That sounds hellish.
    And what’s with all the half-ass advice people were trying to give him on here? As if they understood the situation? Please.

  83. Anonymous said, on November 20, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    I started trying to solve the problem before I realized that part of it was the ship identification number of the ST:TNG era Enterprise. :p

  84. Anonymous said, on November 20, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    I started trying to solve the problem before I realized that part of it was the ship identification number of the ST:TNG era Enterprise. :p

  85. Pentence said, on December 14, 2007 at 6:55 am

    1. Find x: 23x – (56x * -298)^3 = 41Q – NCC-1701D * 525,600M / (^3^) + η‰Œ
    Thats simple the answer is klingon/X (futile+comedore64)=enterprise…right RIGHT!

  86. Kevin said, on May 8, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    So, do you see a bad moon on the rise, or a bathroom on the right?

  87. Jun said, on July 1, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Haha, KOBE! Probably like three people got that reference though.

  88. Dylan said, on January 27, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Hey Mr. Azreal. Your comment about Computer Science as your initially declared major really struck some interest me. I live in San Francisco too and I’m doing that major according to SFSU’s outline. Did you quit after you realized you needed a whole bunch of nasty prerequisites? =O. And I refuse to believe that you were asked to solve that ridiculous equation. NO WAY anyone can do that speedily!

  89. Weird Professor said, on June 28, 2009 at 11:01 am

    More than two years are gone … my wife took the kids … my lungs are now chalkmines … plastered with teer … my students think I’m the greatest weirdo in the world … just to solve this math problem … but now I have the solution … so I finally present you … x is the time that the moon needs to turn around one time …
    … what did you say? That was … just a … joke? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *falls to his knees and cries his soul out*


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