“A few months ago, Tim from SSE Nagaoka-kyo was put in touch with me to cover a couple shifts while a part-time teacher was on holiday (this was at the end of Golden Week if I recall correctly).”
A simply sentence and yet it says so much about the advantages of a franchise system. First, part-time teachers can take time off. Second, their is a support system created by simply being a part of a franchise system. Third, communication between franchises allows us to offer or find help easily. Fourth, the consistency of the curriculum, materials, files and standard operating procedures within the franchise system allow owners, teacher and staff to move easily between schools. Fifth, being part of he system allows EVERYONE more variety of work opportunities, i.e. I had a free day and wanted to earn a little extra cash and I was able to find extra shifts at another school. And finally, it’s fun going to other schools! You can learn a little or a lot every time you work with different teachers, different students, and at different locations.
Let me tell you about Smith’s School of English Nagaoka-kyo. Nagaoka City is a suburb of Kyoto. It lies about halfway between Kyoto and Osaka on the JR line, and either city is easily accessible. It’s a great central location, and yet it is a quiet suburb. It doesn’t have big shopping centers or tourist attractions, but if you have to live there you don’t want that. I have worked at SSE Nagaoka-kyo 4 days in the last 6 months and every time I breathed a sigh of relief when I got off the train. Compared to its larger neighbours Kyoto and Osaka, Nagaoka City is very tranquil; the people are friendly and I always get a half a dozen smiles between the station and the school, which is less than a 5 minute walk.
The school itself is a huge contrast to where I normally work at SSE Ohtsu. SSE Ohtsu is in a small 1-room office in a small office building in an office district surrounded by other office buildings. SSE Nagaoka is in a spacious apartment in a residential neighbourhood. The classroom itself has a nice big wooden table and padded wooden chairs, located between a HUGE whiteboard on one wall and a lovely bay window on the other. Smith’s materials are easily accessible on shelves right beside the coaches seat, and files are alphabetically sorted. Alphabetical order makes files easier to find- at SSE Ohtsu we keep them numerically ordered which is easier at the end of the month but harder day to day if you don’t know the students. My favourite feature of the Nagaoka school is the comfortable sofa and easy chair in the waiting room (which would be the dining area if the apartment were being used as such). I had the pleasure of doing a trial lesson at Nagaoka and it was great to sit in the easy chair while chatting for a few minutes with the trial student at the beginning of the lesson.
I also enjoy teaching at other schools because I can see what drinks other owners/ teachers serve their students. At Nagaoka school there is a nice collection of herbal teas and green teas which I enjoy when I teach there. Having the opportunity to teach at other schools really helps you to develop and improve your own school and share your ideas with other members of the Smith’s system. Although it is important to focus on your own school, if you have the opportunity to, I highly recommend teaching at other schools. My partner Chiharu also had a really great experience teaching at SSE Kiyobashi. You can read about her experience here.
So a big thank you to Tim for giving me this opportunity. As a new member of this system, I appreciate the opportunity to learn from more experienced owners and coaches.
Thanks for the kind words about the school, Ed, and thanks indeed for helping out with the shifts when you did! It’s good to know that the school is in safe hands, and how, when needed, the Smiths team can pull together to help each other out.
It’s especially comforting for me as these days I’m rarely in Nagaoka itself: I work over 500km away at a university in Tokyo teaching aviation English to pilots most of the time. I have been a part of the system now for quite some time, however, and have to say that this franchise organisation has just got better and better. The support available now makes a nice passive income from the school not only achievable, but relatively stress free!