A couple of weeks back I went to a “Welcome To Shane” party.
2 and a half months late, but never mind. They would have thrown one sooner apparently but, such was the chronic shortage, there weren’t actually enough teachers to cobble together to make a party worthwhile. Hence they had waited 2 months and saved up enough new recruits to justify the expenditure.
It was held in an izakaya - a traditional Japanese inn – and was a proper-sit-cross-legged-at-a-very-low-table type affair. There was food and beer, and it was all good. Apart from the pork cheek kebab which like was chewing on a pig’s arse.
Any road, I met a brand new teacher called Dan that night and briefly exchanged a few pleasantries. His first lesson was the very next day and he was full of enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Fast forward 3 weeks. Tonight, I saw him on the train back from Takashimadaira.
I caught up with him on the platform and asked him how he was getting along. “Nightmare” he said, this time with no enthusiasm, before proceeding to unload his woes.
He’d had such a bad first day that he’d phoned second-in-command Neil at head office to say he’d had enough already. He’d also asked that Neil come down and give him a hand in the lessons, as the kids were apparently running amok.
Although I hadn’t resorted to phoning head office, his experiences were a carbon copy of my first week – the kids, the lessons, the set-up.
“Nobody is telling me what I should be doing. I just feel like there’s no support” he concluded.
As he told his tale, I could do nothing but nod sagely. He was right about everything. It’s so reassuring to hear someone reach the same conclusions.
So I decided to give him some Mr Miyagi-like advice:
* Don’t worry about the standard of the lessons to start with. Just concentrate on getting out alive.
* The Shane manual’s suggested lesson plans are often bollocks. If something doesn’t work, dump it. If it works, bank it and use week after week (young kids love repetition).
* You are pretty much unsackable. Shane is desperate for teachers. Unless you have done something unspeakably bad eg using classes to try out your new ultra-racist stand-up comedy routine, they cannot afford to lose you.
He seemed to find it all very useful. He thanked me as we parted company at Akabane station.
I feel like a ‘Nam veteran. Or rather a ‘Pan veteran. I might get a tattoo.