Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March Madness, Japan Style

No, this isn't about whatever brackets or grids or sports or whatever is going on back home, about which I clearly know too little about to even be saying as much about it as I have. In any case, there's this thing that goes on in Japan in March, right at the end of March, when Madness descends, and people find out that they are being transferred elsewhere while others learn that even if they are staying, everything will all be different come April One. April Fool's Day has never sounded more appropriate than it does on that day when everyone is new, and everything is a scramble, and nobody has any idea what the hell they are doing. In truth, leaving people usually find out a week or two sooner than everyone else, but it's all such a Big Damn Secret, and that's hardly enough time for people that need to, you know, find an apartment in a new city. In the case of teachers, it's usually just a matter of doubling or halving their commute, but for some it can require more change than a reasonable person cares to deal with every 3-5-7-or-so years. Yes, changes happen that often, every March/April.

I used to ask why Japan chooses to go this route. I kind of get the idea of shuffling teachers around to prevent certain schools from always having/keeping the best teachers and the idea of sharing the goodness or diluting any badness, or in a company to provide advancement and promotion in other roles or locations or to take cross-training to the next level and not let any one person become too powerful. Sure, some of that makes sense, but the whole last minute top secret silliness makes it tougher on everyone than it has to be. Anyone that's ever tried to explain it to me kind of ended up shrugging and admitting that they don't really get it, either, so I've just stopped asking and put it in the inscrutable column along with face masks, lack of soap and waiting at a completely empty intersection in the middle of nowhere (come visit me once and giggle) until the light says you can cross the street before people will make the leap. 

My school is losing A LOT of teachers this year. I cried a little as the official word was released. Some changes I saw coming, others where completely out of the blue, and all of them just made me wonder what the next school year (we start in April - so, yah, not much prep time on that side, either - silly madness, all of this is, sincerely!) will be like. In most jobs, probably all around the world, the people that you work with side by side every day can really impact the experience. Mine's been really good so far, overall, and I'm sad to see some really excellent teachers go. Hopefully we will do OK in the trade and get some more of the good ones. If not, there's always next year. Sigh.

Goodbye Flowers
(Not Mine)
There will be lots of these saying goodbye all over Japan in the weeks to come.
These are actually the second ones I've seen so far.
I saw the first in the clutch of a man passed out on the last train the other night,
presumably coming back home from his own goodbye party. 

1 comment:

  1. I cannot imagine American teachers doing that, or any business. I hope once the dust settles, your school year goes well with all the changes.

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