Category Archives: work

Too much work, not enought time

While some are on vacation, we in the land of the falling yen are still slaving away, some of us until the beginning of August, to ensure the students get their money’s worth of 15 classes per semester. I’ve been keeping a log of how many hours I spend on non-class work. Being a salaried worker, I get paid by the month for a set number of “hours” (actually 90-minute class-periods, called “koma” in Japanese) per month. This is supposed to cover preparation, research and administrative work, but no record or count is kept of that.

The result showed me I spend a lot of time on preparation and class paperwork, and also much time on the Internet doing email, reading and writing blogs. Something has to go. I can’t maintain 12-hour days indefinitely.

I’ve reduced class preparation time by systemizing more of what I do, cutting inessentials, having students correct their own quizzes, etc.

I’ve cut to almost zero my reading of news blogs and news sites.

I’ve reduced email to just once a day (and none at weekends).

This morning, I just spent 3 hours online, but it was with a specific goal or task in mind.

A different work/play space

As a follow-up to my previous post on work environment, here’s a pic of a different environment my partner-in-crime has created in a room which was not provided for that purpose. Unfortunately, this room will have to be dismantled in a few weeks, so I guess this photo has historical value! There’s of course nothing stopping us from re-creating this kind of thing in our own private offices (and we will). But what we are hoping for is a bigger space, so that we can entertain a number of folks without everyone being squashed up nose-to-nose.

Your teaching environment

It’s a meme that’s going around. No-one tagged me (yet, boo-hoo), but this blog post by Eric, complete with neat Gliffy diagram) sparked my imagination. Where I work, we’re not allowed to put things on the walls or leave non-standard (i.e. personalized) furniture in any classroom. The classrooms don’t belong to any teacher, or any class; they are supposed to be “neutral” so that anyone can use them. My partner-in-crime once put some posters up in a classroom, but someone complained and he had to take them down (he was miffed, to say the least; perhaps they both were).

I think it’s a cultural thing. The posters were nice: colourful and bright. But! They are the signs of someone else’s presence in the room, and that disturbs some teachers. Also, the posters were in English, and that classroom is used by a lot of different teachers teaching a lot of different subjects, of which English is only one.

I think Japanese would feel that posters on the wall were SOMEONE ELSE’S POSTERS and therefore an infringement on their personal space and autonomy, whereas I suspect many Westerners wouldn’t mind, and might actually welcome the introduction of colour to the bland, off-white blank walls.

Classes finished several weeks ago here in Japan (none now until April, but it’s not like we’re on vacation on anything, ya know, there’s tons to do like like like grades ‘n’ stuff really there is). I’ll try and put up some photos of my workspace. (I see WriteToMyBlog just added Flickr functionality but once again WriteToMyBlog refuses to publish my blog entries. Maybe it’s personal: “you seriously want me to publish this? Are you SURE??? I don’t think so. Forget it, pal. The world’s better off without it. Trust me.”

So it’s back to the ol’ reliable Performancing.

Damn. Can’t figure how to persuade Performancing to upload a photo.

So, what’s your workspace look like?