Posted in Xpat Life in Japan

Who Do We Work For?

Hello, everyone! This is Chris, the other half of the Dinosaur Sensei blog. Today I want to ask a question to all the other EFL teachers out there: who do we work for?

I suppose the question is purposefully ambiguous. Who are our bosses? For whose benefit do we, as teachers, work so hard for? What’s the balance?

In my current teaching job, I am a public servant. I work directly for the board of education. However, I have worked at public schools, a non-profit museum, a private school, a for-profit cram school, and even a university. I am by no means a master teacher, but I have been teaching for 10 years now, if you include my student teaching at university.

Is my direct supervisor my boss? Is it the taxpayers? Or the homeroom teachers that I am assisting with foreign language activities? What’s the balance?

I suppose that’s just semantics, but the deeper question here is “for whose benefit do we work so hard for?” That’s the “why.” Every teacher has a story about why they became a teacher, but, for me, the more important thing is why we continue to be teachers.

Is it because teaching is what you are good at? Is it because you enjoy it? Maybe you found a really good school that you never want to leave? Maybe because it’s your job, and whatever job you have, you always do your best?

The answer seems obvious to me: our students. It’s easy to say that, of course, but do the students really come first for us as teachers, every time? A teacher is a giver. A teacher cares. I don’t work hard merely because “it’s my job.” I do my best to work hard for the benefit of my students, and that’s the number one qualification of a teacher, in my opinion. Caring.

I know this is a bit of a ramble, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about missed opportunities in the classroom. For me, the hardest thing is finding the balance between being respectful of what the school teachers want to do and doing what I think is best for the students. This is especially true in junior high school.

What do you think? How do you find the balance? Thank you for reading!



Hello! I am a native English teacher in Kyushu, Japan. I have lived here with my wife since 2012. My education background is in theatre and voice & speech, and I have a K-12 license in theatre education. I enjoy collecting pottery, making models, and photography.

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