One Teacher's (Weekly) Journey | Teachers College Columbia University

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One Teacher's (Weekly) Journey

Many teachers are passionate enough to commute six hours a week to improve their skills. But by plane?

Meet Yoshi Ochi—frequent flyer for the past three and a half years from Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, to TC’s branch campus in Tokyo.

“My life is as if I were walking a tightrope, taking care of three children and doing the housework while working as a full-time teacher and being a language learner,” wrote Ochi—who spoke at her graduation from TC Japan this past fall—in a paper on classroom practices. “It seems that I have engaged in the activities for my own sake and not for extrinsic tangible reward. I have been motivated to achieve self-actualization.”

Oshi’s students have also self-actualized as a result of her perseverance. Now that her own kids are grown, Ochi, who earned her M.A. in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), has more time for her students. She recently accompanied them on a trip to Seattle to meet native English speakers—a rare experience in mono-cultural Japan. Still, Ochi remains humble about the effort she put in to completing her degree. 

“There was a guy who commuted from South Korea,” she says of her time at TC Japan, “though I’m not sure how often.”


Published Monday, Sep. 15, 2008