Lets discuss the fluidity that is a class schedule in a Japanese school. First, I feel that I should say, that I don’t knock it. I’m just used to classes and schedules being concrete unless prior notice of a week or so is given.
Here in Japan, at my high school, my class schedule has changed with a frequency that will give you whiplash. If the weather is bad, specifically speaking of incoming typhoons, students might not have to come to school, they might come at 1 pm, or if they are already at school and there is a typhoon warning they may leave school early. However, teachers always have to be at school or take time off. When I say changes, I don’t mean these. I understand these changes and cherish the free time that I am allowed to spend at my desk in the teachers room.
What I’m talking about is the rando changes made to the daily class schedules. For instance, one day last week I was patiently waiting in the LL room (Language Lab) for my class to arrive. I kept glancing at the clock. A few minutes late for one or two students is ok, but my whole class was late. Then, after 10 minutes, I realized that, maybe they weren’t coming. Come to find out that the schedule had been changed. Neither myself or the other ASE knew about this change. Eventually, when we went to the teachers room and asked. They confirmed that there had been a change. Class was cancelled.
Friday, I’d finished a class and was waiting for another class that never showed up. This time, my supervisor was with me and we checked the schedule (in kanji) to confirm that there was a change. Class had been pushed back from 2nd period to 3rd period. And while I can recognize some kanji, I would never have understood that.
When I asked an English speaker why this change had occurred she said that it was probably due to a teacher leaving early. I realized that Japan doesn’t have “substitute” teachers! If someone has to leave, is sick, or whatever, all the other teachers have to take on their class somehow. Classes shift, are joined or separated but they make it work. They have to. In the states, you request a sub prior to an absence or if there is a last minute emergency, maybe another teacher/teachers will take your class.
Yesterday (Monday) was a holiday. There was no school. Today (Tuesday), I made sure that I checked the schedule. There was some red kanji next to one of my classes. I immediately found an English teacher and asked what it meant. Due to an assembly in the morning there was a new class schedule. Times were shifted. I thought, cool beans, I caught this change early. But this schedule changed again two hours later. I only realized there was a new change to the schedule when, again, my students didn’t show up on schedule. You really have to have your ear to these streets bruh! Ask questions. Ask again. Wait an hour and ask again. Double, triple, and quadruple check!
I don’t think they purposefully leave us two ASE’s out of the loop but it happens quite often. You must be proactive!!!!!! I am more alert now. Whenever there is mass movement in the teachers room, I try to find out what is going on. I now keep my eyes peeled to that giant class schedule.