An interesting aspect of education in Japan is the way in which teachers are moved to different schools on a rather regular basis, usually about every 3 years. Also, there is no warning as to who is going to move, nor is there any sort of system. Some people might move after just one year, while others may remain for 10 years. These transfers are made known to the teachers on the last day of school, and can even induce tears amongst those teachers who don’t want to change, or those wanting to get out. From they day they fin out, they have only a week to before they start at their new school.
The reason why this is even a possibility is because all school workers (save for lunch ladies and ground workers) are not employed to the schools, but rather a city’s Board of Education. The idea with moving them around is so that they don’t become too rooted in any one population. I’m not sure I really understand if this really works, but I can certainly attest to teachers I had in America who were a bit too comfortable in their jobs. I feel like it would be pretty difficult to change schools so regularly, just as soon as you get to know people, they take off. Then of course there is the danger of random assignment, a bit like Russian Roulette. For example, there are a number of islands that fall under the jurisdiction of my BOE, so teacher could be reassigned there. You don’t generally move with a reassignment, so it just means adding 45 minutes each way by boat, which would be awful.
Well, my schools were not exempt from this vicious cycle, and there were certainly some unfortunate casualties. The people who left had the most personality among the teachers, so to lose them is going to make office banter much less interesting. I mean, I have a hard time really knowing what they’re saying, but the tone they take and the laughter is generally enough to enjoy it. I just need to hope that the incoming group is cool, and hopefully younger too. I wouldn’t mind some younger teachers to hang out with from time to time, as is the case with some of my friends. One other thought that I’ve entertained is the fact that I wont be the greenest person at my schools anymore.
During the school closing ceremony that precedes any extended vacation from school, there was a special ceremony for the departing teachers. They were given flowers, gave meaningful speeches, an walked through a slapping tunnel just like was constructed for the graduation. Oh, and big surprise, there were tears as well.