Here in Japan, in these financially difficult times, the task of keeping high quality English Conversation (英会話) coaching facilities open in an organized, professional and healthy manner has become increasingly difficult for many English Schools. Yet, Smith’s School is doing quite well with English schools all over Japan running on the monthly tuition fees system (月謝制 英会話). We believe that our ability to continue in these hard times is mainly due to our clear, simple principles and methods combined with our intrinsic desire to do a good job. Whilst it is true that each of our school owners is autonomous and is each an expert in this field of English coaching we also ALL know we are part of a T.E.A.M. and that this team is contributing in a very positive manner here in Japan. We believe in T.E.A.M.
Smith’s School of English has only a few core principles and beliefs that are very important to us, T.E.A.M. is one of them. We like to keep our focus simple and give our principals and core beliefs acronyms whenever we can. For example we do not believe our main task is to teach English. We know that the Japanese Department of Education has already done a good job of teaching theoretical English. We know therefore our work is to take the theoretic education provided by Japan as a base and add to that base the ability to speak English. In other words we know we need to be “C.C.C.” Coaches of Communicative Confidence. Once we clearly identify that we are NOT teaching English but Coaching Communicative Confidence our job becomes more focused and we do not waste our students time teaching lessons they have already learned at school. We do coach students ONLY what they need to know to become better or should I say Confident vocal communicators.
We have a few other great acronyms but probably the one that keeps everything working is T.E.A.M. Together Everybody Achieves More. Smith’s School owners all know that working as a team is far better than working alone. The acronym is not ours nor original, we have borrowed it from other teachings and adopted it to our own lives. The absolute fact that teams work better than individuals is very well known across the entire planet. So many sayings in so many languages over thousands of years have stood testimony to this fact that teams work. “Many hands make light work” – Heywood, “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable” from Kenya, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress.” “Working together is success.” – Henry Ford and this last one is one of my personal favourite writers “None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard
We at Smith’s think we are good at T.E.A.M. and by western standards this is a fact, Smith’s School of English is a well organized team of individuals working towards a single goal. Our proof, well it is simple while many have failed we have held together and grown as a group with healthy success since 1996. However, we are not the best, we have room to improve and we are in the right country to learn. There is no doubt the Japanese have T.E.A.M. down to a fine art. At times it does seem to me the entire nation is a team. Just last week I had a student arrive a few minutes late to his conversation class at Smith’s School of English Fukushima (スミス英会話 福島) Ignoring his lateness I welcomed in him and offered him a coffee. Then I asked, “How was your day?” He replied “Boring, no work at all” We chatted a little more and then I asked, “So why were you late?” He replied “Oh sorry about that I had to stay late at the office” This I queried “I thought you said you had no work, why did you have to stay late?” He looked at me a little confused as if the question must be an English trick question as after all, any Japanese child would know the answer and then he replied “I was bored but my colleagues were working on a serious problem, they stay, I stay, we work together.”
When does the importance of teamwork begin to enter the lives of the Japanese? Not sure exactly but certainly a long time before the school children in this photo above learned the team benefits of moving quickly, safely and quietly in single file without any adult supervision so as not to disrupt other members of the Japanese Team in the subway.
Amazing Japan. We are teachers but we can learn so much.