Aaron Paulson
International School Teacher
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Karriere Level
“I really do enjoy spending those 20 hours a week in the classroom. I get a lot of energy from my students.” Aaron Paulson teaches English literature at international schools in Tokyo. Before that he had earned a degree of English Literature and Creative Writing in Canada. His advice: “I know that you don’t know what you want to do with your life right now, but that’s ok. It’s going to work out!”


Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?

My name is Aaron Paulson and my job title would be teacher, photographer and writer.

Worum geht es in Deinem Job?

I teach at an international school. I teach middle and high school. I mostly teach English literature but I also do a little bit of photography and other various kinds of like extracurricular activities with the students. The schools where I teach are international schools, which means the most of the students are from other countries and their families are living and working here in Tokyo. So I'm giving them the similar kind of education that they would get back home, so they can return to Canada or America or England or Australia to go to university. Most people think that teachers are just being in the classroom. At my current school I teach about 20 hours a week which doesn't sound like very much but there's a lot of preparation and that goes into the lessons that I teach. Especially English literature, there is a lot of marking. The essays that the students write, I have to collect those, I read through them and then give them a grade. On top of that there are a lot of meetings the teachers go to. Even during my off hours during my free time, I'm often doing extra coursework. I'm trying to learn more about my teaching profession as I go on. So for example right now I'm doing a certificate program in educational technology. It's going to take me two years to finish and I have to work on that in the evenings and on weekends. So the number of class hours is only about a third of the job. There is quite a bit more involved in being a teacher than just being in the classroom. Being in the classroom is the best part of it, that’s the most fun but there's a lot of paperwork and a lot of other work that goes along with it.

Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?

Before I came to Japan. I was born in Canada and I earned a masters degree in English literature and creative writing. I first went over seas 14 years ago, 15 years ago to Korea to teach English ESL for one year basically as an adventure and take take a break from school. I enjoyed the overseas experience so much and teaching so much that I decided that that's what I wanted to do after I graduated with my masters degree. So that's basically what I did I went back finish my masters degree and then came to Japan. When I first came here I wanted to teach part time and also spend a lot of time doing writing and photography and that's what I did for four years, before moving to Tokyo and then becoming a full-time professional teacher. I started doing that on the strength of my masters degree and in previous teaching experience. While I was already teaching I also did a program to become a licensed certified teacher, a teaching license basically. Which I earned over a couple of summers in Spain from an American university. I've been teaching in Tokyo full time for 10 years since then.

Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?

Sure, I have a masters degree, which is not required for teaching at an international school. Most teachers need a teaching license, but not everybody. If you have Masters degree if you do have an advanced degree and you can get some initial experience teaching somewhere else, then you can come into teaching without having to get a teaching license. The thing about Tokyo is, in Japan in general is that it's considered a very high level market. A lot of people want to live here worker and teacher. As It's very competitive. You might not require everything to get your foot in the door but, it's tough to get your foot in the door. I did it.

Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?

If I had to bring it down to one thing, and that's difficult to do, I would say that I really do enjoy those 20 hours a week that I spent in the classroom with the students. I get a lot of energy from them and I like to think that the teaching that I'm doing is also helping them do to get ahead in their own lives and pursue their own dreams. So that's that's the most rewarding part of it for me, as is working with the students.

Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?

I would say for me maybe the biggest challenge is just keeping up with all the grading. Marking all those essays and everything else that comes in because it’s importance. I try to give good feedback, but it can be very time-consuming and it's a lot of time stands alone at a desk. I'm reading them and making comments so I've always found that to be as of the challenge, but it's very important thing for the students, so I try to do it well.

Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!

First I know that you don't know what you want to do with your life right now, but that's okay, because it can work out, it's going to work out for you. In general I think it can work out for anybody. Life is an experience and adventure. You can have a really fulfilling life if you approach it in that way. So keep doing what you're doing, have different experiences, learn different things. Follow your passions and that's going to be what's best for you. Don’t worry about what it's like being a 14-year-old because it does get better in time, maybe not perfect but better.