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The AEON blues: terminated during training
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:56 am    Post subject: The AEON blues: terminated during training Reply with quote

I was hired by AEON last October.

I went over to Japan earlier this month.

I lasted four days during the orientation. I was told that I would be dismissed or I would resign.

I did have difficulty in picking up the specific methodology in the specific order that they required. I did come over with the flu, and that did not help. But I also have some English teaching experience, and I had difficulty shedding some old habits when addressing the class.

But I was being judged on lessons on the second day of orientation.

I was also 20 seconds late after one break, as I had to blow my nose and couldn't do so until one of the stalls became available. (There were no paper towels, just an air dryer.) I was reprimanded in front of the other trainees. I tried to explain, not justify, why I was late, but the trainee retorted with a "Thank you!" Which basically meant that I should shut up.

While I understand the need for punctuality in Japan, I believe this reaction was a bit excessive. I didn't express this view to anyone, and genuinely wished I wasn't late, for obvious reasons while there. Other trainees felt the trainer's response was a bit harsh.

I also made other mistakes like putting my hands in my pocket when standing up and putting my water bottle on the table. I nodded my head, and complied, but perhaps I wasn't being sufficiently, well, having enough genkiness?

AEON flew me home, as opposed to keep me in the country. At that point, I just wanted to get out of the country.

I do have a few questions for this panel:

1. Do some people consider AEON to be a cult?

I noticed that many of its employees demonstrated similar characteristics when communicating and presenting themselves. A certain uniformity in conduct that I have never seen anywhere else.

2. Did AEON fulfill its contractual obligations?

AEON asked for my policy manual back. While I didn't check the policy manual in time (I was trying to get a firmer grasp on the teaching method until the last minute), I believe if they terminated me, they would have to pay me for one month. But they said that it made no difference if I was terminated or resigned.

I think they may have had to pay me for one month. Granted, they paid for my flight home on short notice and one night in a hotel that was 6,000 yen. So I'm not going to charge the barricades over this. Having said that, if they told me that there was no difference between being terminated and resigning, and there is, then they weren't straight with me, period. Also, they should have paid me the difference between the flight and hotel, and the first month's salary.

3. Why in God's name didn't they provide the precise methodology they wanted me to master ahead of time?

I received 5 newsletters, links to grammar, and a web page that did provide examples of lessons.

I also received a policy manual that described everything under the sun.

But they didn't provide the specific precise steps that they wanted me to follow until after I got to Japan! Had I been given the steps for their two most prominent kind of lessons, I would have been able to master the methodology, which is the very thing that they ostensibly consider to be the most important thing for the teachers to master.

I was hired well before coming to Japan, so I really wish I had this information beforehand.

I really wish I had last week back. I wish I didn't have the flu. And I wish my presentations could have been better sooner. I take responsibility for that.

But it seemed that my trainer had deemed me unfit from the get-go, and it led to a downward spiral, all of which could have been avoided.

I welcome any answers to these questions, any questions that people may have for me, and any commentary that may help illuminate this situation.

The feelings are still fresh and raw, so this post may prove to be therapeutic.

In addition, this post may help people decide whether AEON is right for them.

I understand that my experience was far from universal, and that many AEON teachers enjoy their time in Japan. I was expecting nothing less for myself.
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Solar Strength



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 557
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't take it personally or let it get to you. All of these big chains can be cultish, like any other company. And any of these foreign head trainers, whether it's Nova, Berlitz, GEOS or ECC, tend to be complete 'Yes Men' and corporate zombies.

Show me a head teacher or div. manager like we had at Nova and I'll show you a corporate suckhole who has no allegiance to his or her foreign EFL teachers slugging it out in the eikaiwa trenches. They only care about themselves and their own 'career' trajectory.

But yes, these large chains can be very cult-like.
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thomthom



Joined: 20 May 2011
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about that, rslrunner. On the bright side, if AEON flew you home and you only lasted a few weeks, you must have a lot of your Japan money left over, right? There are other options, other countries with less than half of the cost of living as Japan. Moving to Japan is a dream for many, but one of the least cost-effective dreams one can have.

Was your training all in front of other trainees? Or were there some trainees observing a normal class, or what? I have confidence in my teaching ability but having to perform in front of a room full of other teachers/staff would probably phase anybody.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 1029
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I interviewed with AEON back in 2003 at the Los Angeles office. The interviewer/presenter was a rude, hostile man. He would answer questions with a tone of indignation and often started his responses with "I already said this, but..." with a glare at the person asking the question.

I was rejected by them. Happy about it in retrospect. Went with Nova instead.

To be fair, I met other people who worked at AEON and seemed to enjoy themselves.

Anyway, try somewhere else. Good luck!
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gr3ndel



Joined: 15 Jan 2013
Posts: 2
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm so sorry that happened to you! Wow...

But, since you were still in the first two weeks of the probationary period, they do not have to pay you one month's salary.

I hope you find another company that's a better match for you. Good luck!
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 1116
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:12 am    Post subject: Re: The AEON blues: terminated during training Reply with quote

rslrunner wrote:
1. Do some people consider AEON to be a cult?

I noticed that many of its employees demonstrated similar characteristics when communicating and presenting themselves. A certain uniformity in conduct that I have never seen anywhere else.
I've never been involved with AEON, but I have two thoughts about this.

First, as a newbie, people wouldn't have trusted you enough to show their true feelings and, as a trainee, people would have felt obliged to act as role models for the "AEON way".

Second, AEON may be an organisation that works on the principle of "values over rules". The theory is that, if there is a strong, uniform corporate culture, people will internalise the organisation's values and won't need to be directed and micro-managed so much. IKEA and Starbucks are notable examples of this kind of organisation. (There are many more that claim to operate on this principle but are, in truth, dominated by internal politics.)

People who fit into the culture love it. They get validation for their own values, and enjoy having the freedom to make decisions independently, confident that they're doing the right thing. People who don't fit in find the whole thing creepy, irritating, cult-like, and rather phony.
Quote:
2. Did AEON fulfill its contractual obligations?

AEON asked for my policy manual back. While I didn't check the policy manual in time
Did you resign, or were you sacked?

In any case, I don't think the policy manual is important. What matters is your contract, and Japanese labour law. Whatever the legalities of the matter, you'll have a hard time pressing your case if you've gone back to your country of origin.
Quote:
3. Why in God's name didn't they provide the precise methodology they wanted me to master ahead of time?
I can think of several reasons, but the most likely one is that the people responsible for recruiting you and getting you on your feet in Japan are in a separate silo from the people who train you.
Quote:
The feelings are still fresh and raw, so this post may prove to be therapeutic.

In addition, this post may help people decide whether AEON is right for them.

I understand that my experience was far from universal, and that many AEON teachers enjoy their time in Japan. I was expecting nothing less for myself.
You seem surprisingly neutral and well balanced, considering what you've been through. You must have had a hell of a time. I wonder what the first draft of your post looked like? Wink

Don't be disheartened. You seem to have a good attitude. I know what it's like to try, and fail, to adapt your teaching style to a new set of requirements.

It's quite possible that your previous experience worked against you. A really experienced teacher can stay on top of the situation and easily take on board new requirements. A novice attempts to follow the methodology he's been taught, because he has nothing else to go on. But with just a little experience, you find yourself falling back on old habits far too often.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 122

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And to be a total jerk...

And then there's the chance that the OP is a total whack-job. I mean, come on! To be sent home almost immediately by an Eikaiwa factory? Let's be honest here----that situation is extreme. Totally extreme. (Referencing those past and present) Aeon, Nova, Geos, Toza, Gaba, etc. do not simply send home those folks whose visas they've sponsored for no reason---only those who exhibit the extremes that make them virtually unemployable, embarrassing in the country, and impossible to support in any rational way.

If the OP was sent home in the manner described by AEON, it can be assumed that there was a major, major problem with the OP. Seriously---please---as if AEON is just going to blithely send home a teacher they've sponsored after 4 days.

Ya'll should know better

I mean, come on. Really!
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move



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^

Agreed. I think there's more to this story.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I did have difficulty in picking up the specific methodology in the specific order that they required. I did come over with the flu, and that did not help. But I also have some English teaching experience, and I had difficulty shedding some old habits when addressing the class


It seems to me that some of this was just bad luck. I train teachers, and I can admit that a coughing, sneezing, feverish candidate who also struggles with methodology just makes a poor impression from the start. When I begin to imagine that candidate standing before a class...
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And to be a total jerk...

And then there's the chance that the OP is a total whack-job. I mean, come on! To be sent home almost immediately by an Eikaiwa factory? Let's be honest here----that situation is extreme. Totally extreme. (Referencing those past and present) Aeon, Nova, Geos, Toza, Gaba, etc. do not simply send home those folks whose visas they've sponsored for no reason---only those who exhibit the extremes that make them virtually unemployable, embarrassing in the country, and impossible to support in any rational way.

If the OP was sent home in the manner described by AEON, it can be assumed that there was a major, major problem with the OP. Seriously---please---as if AEON is just going to blithely send home a teacher they've sponsored after 4 days.

Ya'll should know better

I mean, come on. Really!


jmatt, you are not a jerk to raise questions about why I would be dropped after four days. It's a legitimate point. Having said that, I think it would be unfair to automatically assume that I was a whack job.

move, I'll attempt to address your concern as best I can.

I did make it through the interview process in the United States, which is pretty thorough.

I'd be the first to admit that I was not at my best during the first week. I had a bad case of the flu, and I had a terrible time adjusting to the time change, and so I had difficulty sleeping the entire time I was in Japan, with the exception of the first night of training.

The biggest problem was that I could not adjust to the new methodology. My inability to do so led to me having to meet with the two trainers on the second day of training, which led me to feel uncomfortable and nervous, which further undermined my presentation on the next day, which led them to having to read the riot act and me being told that I had to turn around my presentations the next day or else I would have to go home.

I also took copious notes, answered questions during the presentation, and came early on two separate days to try to catch up.

It seemed like the week just got away from me, and I was left asking, "Why is this happening?"

I have no doubt I could have mastered the methodology if I just had a little more time. I also understand that AEON does not have to work that way, and decided that it was just easier to have me dispatched, and that if someone can't meet the requirements within the specified time.

On my end, I wish I was healthier and that I had spent my time focusing on the presentations instead of the notes.

I am also mystified as to why I wasn't provided with the exact steps required for the presentation weeks before my departure, instead of on the first day of the orientation, with my knowledge of that orientation test on the second day. AEON states that they take pride in their teaching methods, and that one day turnover, in my opinion, belies that post.

Again, I have to take responsibility for not meeting the requirements more quickly. I also think that their decision to send me home was both premature and excessive.

I told everyone I knew I was going to Japan, and to have to come home is genuinely humiliating. Excessive pride is a sin, but every man/woman has to maintain a level of dignity, which has come under assault.

I can assure you I am not a whack-job. I have professional experience as a teacher and in management, I work hard, and I expect a lot from myself, which makes this experience all the more difficult.

There are a lot of posts in this forum where people make gratuitous insults at other people and institutions without making the slightest effort to examine their own behavior. Sometimes that makes the posts tedious because it's clear that the problem lies with the writer.

I intend for this post to be different. I want to be forthright about what happened. I also need to come to grips with how this happened on a personal level, so I can move forward. Why am I deemed unable carry out the responsibilities just a couple of days into the orientation?

jmatt, you are right to raise questions. But I would hold off before you make definitive conclusions about me right off the bat.
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Last edited by rslrunner on Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I did have difficulty in picking up the specific methodology in the specific order that they required. I did come over with the flu, and that did not help. But I also have some English teaching experience, and I had difficulty shedding some old habits when addressing the class[

It seems to me that some of this was just bad luck. I train teachers, and I can admit that a coughing, sneezing, feverish candidate who also struggles with methodology just makes a poor impression from the start. When I begin to imagine that candidate standing before a class...


spiral78, you may have nailed it....


Last edited by rslrunner on Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the most part, I work on training courses that are much longer than a few days, so if a candidate has a weak start, or a few bad days during the course, there is time and opportunity for him/her to bounce back.


However, I also run a 6-day course annually (it's limited in time because focused on a specific set of skills - it's not a general EFL course) , and it would be tough to arrive for that jet-lagged and ill, on top of the need to favourably impress the trainers with one's quick grasp and ability to apply the approaches and methods we're targeting.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 122

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 1116
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmatt wrote:
Sorry
I'm really glad there are people on this forum who know how to use that word. Let's hope you've set a precedent. Very Happy But I agree that the situation is unusual.

Are illness, jetlag and old teaching habits are enough to explain what happened? I'm not qualified to say. But if they're not, there are still all kinds of possible explanations. Maybe there's a new guy in charge of training who's eager to make an impression? Maybe AEON management are quietly throwing people overboard, in preparation for a wave of school closures? And, yes, maybe rslrunner is a whackjob, but rslrunner has shown no signs of whackiness on this forum, so I'll give him/her the benefit of the doubt on that one.


Last edited by Pitarou on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 1116
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, have you looked into your visa situation? You're aware that your visa allows you to work for a different school, aren't you? And you know that having a visa opens up a lot of job opportunities.
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