Goodbye Inage High!
Today was my last day at the school where I work. It’s been a rollercoaster thirty two months. Being that this was the third school at which I’d spent considerable time, I thought that I’d be able to get through the day without any tears. I was mistaken
The first years suddenly asked me to make a goodbye speech for them, but I was so busy that I didn’t think I’d be able to and I still hadn’t prepared anything by the time I finally got to their classroom.
Still, I managed to make a heartfelt go of it, during which I, and a number of pupils started crying!
I also received a number of cards, letters and purikura (Print Club stickers) and for the first and most probably the last time, flowers!
So, that’s it then, the end of an era for me. The end of an era that started with me coming to Japan on 25th of July, 1999 on the JET Program to a small school called Kinosaki Junior High in a tiny coastal town and ended on the 10th of March, 2006 at a flagship senior high school in the centre of The Tokyo-Chiba metropolitan region with one of the best English language proficiency levels on record.
Six and three quarter years of teaching, it would seem, do not a career make.
Many valued colleagues and several close friends have said things like “You’re a great teacher.” or “”Why do yo want to leave teaching.” and I’m forced to look back at the time and consider what I’ve achieved.
Perhaps I have gained a lot of experience over the years and yes, I have put effort into my work and it may be that I do have the skills that make me a good teacher. Unfortunately, the system makes no allowances for experience, skill or effort. Overtime and tardiness are rarely distinguished between and effort adds little but extra work. Moreover, years of experience makes no difference when it comes to determining pay.
Finally, all the sweat and blood earns nothing more or less than respect from coworkers, which, whilst being one of the prime motivating factors of a modern career is no basis for a stable family or future.
Were these six year worth it? Or have I permanently placed my career in jeopardy? What skills from my last job can a carry over to the next. These are things I will have to answer over the next few months and years.
One thing is for certain, at 32, I’ll have to work hard over the next three years to catch up.
And so it is with mixed feelings that I bring my first career to a close and return to the path I walked before coming to Japan: IT Support.