Aeon Intercultural USA corporation
Aeon Intercultural Pty.
Here are some of the common issues at Aeon:
1 year contracts. They offer Seishin to long time employees (as if it is something they can give you!) If you do Seishin, they lower your base and redistribute it to bonus. They also give you fewer holidays and expect unpaid overtime.
Mark Miller is very clear about his philosophy that Aeon doesn’t have to allow teachers prep time during work time. If there are holes in your schedule, you can prep then. Otherwise, it’s come in early, stay late, etc. Often times teachers are asked to make phone calls to students outside of contract hours. Recently, Aeon unilaterally decided to up the total number of hours from 36 to 40 on contract renewal and for new hires (these numbers are estimates). There
are occasional once monthly things called Sunday open (teachers are usually off on Sunday and Monday). The teacher is asked to come in on Sundays, and is given either overtime pay or comp time. They have no choice in the matter. It varies from school to school.
Variable Working Conditions and Housing
Some Aeon teachers work in an environment where they have lots of prep time and an enormous flat. Others have the exact opposite. Aeon has also been recently reducing foreign teaching staff, leaving some very busy schools with just one foreign teacher. Working conditions are highly variable from school to school.
Lack of a Proper Grievance Procedure
Aeon makes a big deal of insisting that if you have a problem, you should approach a trainer. Of course, this comes with a big gamble. If the trainer sides with you (as opposed to the management staff or an irate customer), as to their credit often happens, they will be enormously helpful. If they decide that you’re the problem, it’s open season.
In addition to teaching duties, teachers are required to help sell very expensive homework books for students. The truth is that these campaigns can be a lot of fun. Some managers, under intense pressure from their supervision, delegate that pressure to the teachers. Weekly meetings are often a great forum for the head teacher to harangue staff about low
Insufficient Childrens Lesson Training/Prep Time
I was in a school that was transitioned from adults only to adults and children. The transition brought huge tensions in the school. The kids side of Aeon is extremely paranoid that teachers really don’t want to teach kids (with good reason. the bottom line is that kids classes are harder, take more prep time, and they don’t pay you any more to do it). The training appropriately teaches you how to navigate the lessons, but is gloriously insufficient at training classroom management. As a
corollary to this problem, you find that managers adopt the same paradigm about student complaints that they adopt for adults. If a kid complains, the teacher is wrong and at fault.
It takes 1 student complaint to tank your reputation at Aeon. Compliments are ignored. Enough said.
You get about 4 weeks a year (including national holidays). You can take 5 when you like. (Doubt they have a 労使協定). The others are scheduled during obon, new years, and golden week. It makes traveling home to see your family very expensive. The take 5 when you like holidays are rejected when applied for during a blackout day. Blackout days are decided yearly, and there are a lot of them littering the calendar. The holiday situation really isn’t that bad at Aeon, but could be better.
The worst thing about Aeon is actually how they treat the management staff. The head teacher is supposed to be a liason between the teachers and the management. His/her job is truly awful. They share in sales, teaching, and administrative responsibilities. The manager is under intense pressure to hit unrealistic sales goals. The assistant manager is along for the awful ride, an is usually “promoted” early to manager. Upon being promoted to manager, assistants receive a pay cut, and must make their sales goals to recoup and improve on their salary. It is unusual for managers to be talented/lucky enough to survive this. Staff turnover is almost as bad as teacher turnover. Further, there are Japanese English teachers who are not head teachers, and they are often bullied into taking on management/admin responsibility.
The comparatively better treatment of foreign teachers creates a huge fissure between the Japanese and foreign sides of the company. The managers are anything but. They do not have control of the budget, hiring and firing power, or access to company secrets (any more than teachers). The buck stops with the trainers who serve as at large managers for most of the teaching crew.