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Reacting to a Dispatch Company's "Harassing Sick Employees" Video

Ah... Dispatch Companies.


The company that started my own ALT journey. The company that gave me hell, and I suppose just keeps on giving.


A dispatch company which I shall NOT name has recently made a video that has really made my blood boil.


In a nutshell, the company is reminding their ALTs why they are causing a world of trouble by taking sick days off and why they need to refrain from calling in sick. The video is not only one filled with tons of manipulative tactics, but also gaslighting tactics. It is absolutely disgusting.


I unfortunately no longer have a video source, but want to break as much of this video down for you to tell you what they say and why this is essentially a THEM (BOE & your school) problem, NOT A YOU (the ALT) problem at all.


(I took a few screenshots before the video was taken down, but unfortunately I didn’t write fast enough so I don’t have screenshots of most of the video… sorry!)



"Success Starts By Being Present!"


The video starts off quite innocently.


Some guy that I can only imagine having worked at Disney with a Disney Amusement Parks Announcement voice basically starts the video with,


"We understand that some days you just need to call in sick..."


(But!!!!!!!!!!! There's always a BUT)



"...BUT..."


(there it is!)


"...can you imagine what E V E R Y O N E you work with goes through when you act like a selfish little TWAT THAT STAYS UP TOO LATE PLAYING VIDEO GAMES AND NEEDS A DAY OFF?"


Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd... that's where it all goes downhill.


I mean, let's start here and break this all down. First of all, this message is filled with SO MUCH MISTRUST for their ALTs. And you know what? I get it. During my time at (redacted dispatch company), there really were a lot of young, selfish twats that only wanted to come to Japan and drink and party and have sex. Teaching English was just a way they can collect some cash so they can do all of those things. But you know what?


You get what you pay for!!


The pay for this company's "contractors" are SO LAUGHABLY LOW that no one who is truly serious about holding a job (not even just teaching) and live long-term in Japan would stick around for more than a few years. Anyone who has qualifications or are at least somewhat serious about the job wouldn't want to be consistently treated like a 5-year-old toddler reminding them how to do their job.


When I had worked for a dispatch company, it was in the beginning of my time in Japan. While I did appreciate the hand-holding and help with translating some difficult official documents, I eventually grew tired of them telling me how I should act and react to things at my school when their only presence there was that ONE time they came to observe ONE 50-minute class.


Also, during a pandemic??


Is that really the message you want to tell your everyone during a pandemic? That you cannot take days off to not spread a deadly virus because you don't believe they have COVID19 and was just at home playing games?


Also y'all think with those lowly salaries, we can actually afford to get a PS5?


riiight...



It's an ALT Problem, not Us!


After a nice little presentation of how they ask their ALTs to call in sick and essentially show us their lovely excel files of "let's create more work for ourselves", they finally get down to the nitty-gritty.


The manipulation is truly real.


The video makes more dramatizations which I can only describe the acting to being worst than Yamapi's best attempt at not looking like he has dead fish eyes (don't worry if you don't get it).



And here are basically the arguments throughout the entirety of the video. Let's break it down:


1) It's tough for teachers to reschedule/change the schedule on the day.



This is the biggest bullshit I have ever heard. My schedule at schools change ALL THE TIME even when I am at school. Sometimes I show up in the morning and teachers are apologizing to me that they can't have class because...


Let's go down the list here:


- Teacher Y forgot about the fact that their grade has a special event

- The school forgot about a mock exam the students are doing

- Teacher B needs an extra class because they fell behind and don't need me in yet because the activity I made banks on said teacher to teach the grammar material first

- Teacher X needs to reschedule class because he is returning tests

- School Cancellation

- Teacher C is away on business trip or club event


And they want to tell me that it’s difficult to change MY schedule? Please!

Chances are teachers Y, B, X and C all teach their classes more than once in the span of a week, and it really isn’t so hard to put you in a different day if you’re at the school the full week, or honestly - they’re more than okay not having you there at all. Most teachers are already racing against time during the year trying to finish the textbook in time, that really.. you’re a fun distraction at best, and a nuisance at worst.



2) Students are waiting for the ALT and looking forward to Meeting the ALT


Literally 10% of the population at your school TRULY feels this way. You’re lucky to get a school where more than 10% of your students are truly interested in learning English.


But there is some truth to it. A good ALT would have made bonds with students who aren’t interested in English as well, so you would have a few of those students who are genuinely interested in you as a person and maybe even a role model.


But you mean to tell me that they can’t just wait until the next day or next week to meet me?


This isn’t Hachiko, no one is that into you. (though stalkers might disagree)




3) ALT’s absent means students lose the chance to be familiar with real English communication


***absence

Like I said, you’d be lucky if your student population has more than 10% who are truly interested in learning English as a communication tool.

The other 90% simply wants to get English over with to pass their High School or University exams. If they truly think students are all serious about learning a second language, they’ve clearly never been forced to learn a second language in mandatory schooling before. Because as a Canadian, I can tell you I have - and the amount of my classmates (at an IB and academic-focused school) truly serious about French at that age?


Extremely low.


Also Japanese classrooms and school are not equipped for “English Communication”. Everything they do starting from late elementary school is for their eventual University exam. Universities in Japan mostly do not test students on spoken English. A selected few programs do, but those are usually English-heavy programs and the students themselves would have supplementory cram school courses outside of school to prep them for this, whether or not they have an ALT at the school.


Also this is blatantly insulting Japanese English Teachers (JTE) and their lack of ability to carry out English communication themselves and share their wisdom. While it is true that many older JTE can’t actually speak the language they are teaching, there are lot of younger JTEs who do. If you’re a JTE, you should be offended.



How Does Your Absence Affect Others?


So now, at this point of the video, they are full on manipulating the ALTs with this lovely diagram of how the entire Japanese population is nuisance‘d by your absence.


I’m disappointed they didn’t include the PARENTS OF STUDENTS, and ended the diagram at STUDENTS because we all know who really has the schools by the ankle - the parentals.


Schools often do things (or don’t do things) to satisfy parents.


Though I do have first hand experience that it’s not always true, and a good school will always stand by you if they think the parents are a bit batshit crazy (though of course they won’t say it aloud). I’ve told my story before so you’re free to look for the blog about how a parent complained I was taking too many days off and skipping her child’s lessons. My vice principal basically got angry on my behalf, told me to be careful and off I went.


So if this doesn’t show (redacted dispatch company) truly has no idea what they’re talking about, well… I hope this gets the point across.


And here’s the important part - it’s not your job as an ALT to deal with this kind of thing! They are the dispatch company providing the service to their client (BOE). You are there to execute this service. In the event that you cannot carry out your task, the service provider should be the one dealing with the issue! Whether that’s through using substitute ALTs (which is part of the service they offer), or some other means - it’s the company’s responsibility!


The companies themselves should also have spokespeople that smooth out these rough patches with the clients. In another previous dispatch company I worked at, these people were called General Managers. Their literal job is to make their clients “feel good” and to temporarily rectify the issue in the event they cannot provide the service at the moment. The General Manager I worked with humanized all the ALTs that was under her, and also made sure the BOEs understood that. If another dispatch company can do this, (redacted dispatch company) can also do it. They just don’t want to and prefers to throw ALTs under the bus!



Interview with the JTE


So I did get bored watching even though I am fuming, but all you need to know is that they essentially got one or two Japanese people to talk into a camera about how much grief an ALT not showing up was for them.


Are these Japanese people actually JTEs?

Who knows. But this lovely lady is one of the two that talks about her grief with absent ALTs.



There are many things she says, but essentially the thing that really stood out to me was how they say that their own lessons are affected when an ALT doesn’t show up, because they don’t have a plan for that day and they’re royally fucked.


This one really got me because I have -n e v e r- and I mean, 100% NEVER, met a JTE who has not already have a week’s worth (mostly a month, even the whole semester) of classes already figured out roughly, if not in detail. There was maybe one teacher who always tells me he’s not sure lol (no hate, Higa-sensei - miss you guys down there!), but even this awesome dude can pull magic trick out of his ass and teach out of the book last minute!


Chances are they are also teaching the same lesson throughout the week, in the same pattern they teach every single day. So you’re telling me you don’t already have printouts? For elementary school teachers, you have a textbook with actual lesson plans IN JAPANESE, a CD or a digital textbook with audio and you’re telling me you can’t teach it? Even a donkey can press play on the CD player to just get the kids to repeat after the audio.


Also for what it’s worth, the BOEs make it very clear that ALTs are assistants. It’s even in the name, for Christ’s sake!

There are two adults in the room, and the ALT sure as hell is not a teacher with the Japanese teaching certificate. They make sure of it and remind you constantly, so why should they expect us to make whole lesson plans and be T1 in a class?


Yeah, nah.




Both of these teachers go on a rant about how her students are less excited about English class when the ALT is not in the classroom. To that I say:


Try being more fun, my dear JTE. Crack a joke or two. Improve your English.


Teachers like these JTEs just see us as a "fun special guest" that pulls magic tricks out of hats for their students. And like, the class therapist lol. Instead of looking towards themselves to improve themselves (because they're oooooooh soooooooooo buuuuuuuuuusy), they want to blame the ALT for not being there to babysit the kids so they can sit in the back and mark papers while ALTs do all the work.


Typical blame game that Japanese society likes to play, unfortunately.


I do want to say one thing though...


It’s very likely that (redacted dispatch company) asked the JTE to comment on “a time when ALT did not show up and caused meiwaku”, then evil edited the hell out of what they said. I want to believe this because JTE often really don’t know the ALT’s work environment and the situation. So many JTEs I spoke to think I actually have a teaching license back in Canada (I don’t), get paid directly from the BOE and make way more money than them. I highly recommend having a conversation with your JTEs about this, for a whole bunch of reasons we won’t get into today.


(one of them is a FORMER teacher though, as shown in the credits of this video... so take what you will with that information)



Interviews With An ALT


Now this is the real kicker. They somehow got some ALTs to speak about this. How? Only god knows. But there’s some real gaslighting going on here.


Again, it’s mostly just boring bullshit talk about how ~great~ ALT life is!

This snowflake has apparently "never been late or absent"

Y’all we need to give this person a standing ovation for not being late or absent. Ever.


I really don’t care if you get sick or not. Your body isn’t mine, and getting sick isn’t something anyone can control. We are all different and how our bodies react to the environment around us isn't something we can control. Especially during a pandemic too! We can protect ourselves as best as we could, but we cannot control what the people do around us - and they might be the ones that get us sick.


What an absolute shitshow of an interview.


Also I hope no one threatened violence on her to say "yeeeeeeeeees being an ALT is really a good job". Please be safe, fellow ALT who doesn't get sick and is never late!


Source: ALT Rebel (our hero)



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