I had a kind of crappy friday at work.
I went in to the day hoping to get a raise; in my contract it says that, "After a 3 month probationary period, the wage will increase." This was to be sweet as my three months are up. The other teacher, Paul and I were all stoked about the clause and were hoping to come home with the knowledge of a couple of extra yen in the next paycheck.
Paul initiated the conversation with the boss and right then i knew that we were in for trouble. You see, as soon Paul mentioned it, there came the sqinty face and the hissed inhilation that mean, "Big problem, but I don't want to talk about it," in Japanese.
We went upstairs to a classroom and our boss said, "Well the reason that we have not increased your paycheck is that we're actually not satisfied with your performance."
Great, there's a certain kick to the crotch. All this time i had been thinking that i was a nice guy and a somewhat above mediocre teacher and suddenly i suck.
Paul's response was, "Fair enough," and seemed like he wanted out of the room right away but i was more than a little interested in finding out what the hell was going on.
"So, if we're not teaching up to your satisfaction, could you please tell us what we should do to improve our teaching?" i asked.
"Well, I'm not really sure. Since September we've lost about 50 students and we're really not sure why. Maybe the student's don't like you as teachers. We sometimes hear complaints that the classes aren't that interesting."
"Ok, I can appreciate that students want interesting classes, but I was only instructed to teach from the textbook and in fact there is a pretty rigorous schedule that i was told to keep up with and not to deviate from."
It kind of went like that for a while. I was pretty pissed off and bummed about my teaching ability. But shit, i did exactly as i was instructed, and it's not like i proclaimed to be a fabulous english teacher before I came. It was plain to see from my transcript and resumee that i am not a teacher and that I studied Geography for christsake. If they had a problem with my teaching it would have behooved them to talk to me about it first, rather than to wait for me to bring it up in a salary meeting.
This is just the perfect example of the problems that western and japanese people have in communicating here. Maybe we're too dumb to see things and maybe we expect to be told about stuff before the shit hits the fan but it certainly does suck the way it's done here. THere's such a societal emphasis on saving face and not insulting anyone and making it formal and polite that I just can't understand what's going on half the time. I wonder if i'd ever have heard any complaints if we didn't bring up the issue about money first. I have to assume not.
As it turns out, the point was brought up in our little meeting that the Nagano Foreign Language Center may not be able to keep the doors open past April unless they get a lot of new subscriptions or whatever. At this point I honestly don't know if I care whether or not the place stays open. It would be fine if they did, as i'd have a job, but i'd actually rather do stuff on my own where i don't have to wear a tie every day to work. That really cramps my style. Currently, i'll just see how things go and swing it one way or the other. I think that secretly i hope to get laid off to increase my free time quotient and also make my schedule more similar to Jennifer's.