Did I forget about this blog? Not at all! Actually I’ve been writing entries when I have free time in the office but haven’t had the time to upload them (I don’t have the internet at work). So, expect a ton of entries in a short period of time. For now, enjoy this one!
Summer is no longer here and thus, work has finally begun. I have the difficult task of juggling 5 schools which is the most any Izumi ALT has. Some people have 4, others have 3! I’m so jealous of them. I basically have to go through self introductions and lesson planning with teachers 5 different times. No wait, that’s a lie. I have to lesson plan with at least 10 teachers because I teach more than one grade sometimes, argh! I started on the 1st with my junior high. This school is one of the tiniest ones as the entire class is about 130 kids. My first day involved getting to know my JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English) and figuring out what we wanted to do for next week’s class, which was my “first” day. The teachers there are nice and speak a decent amount of English, so it’s nothing too stressful. I was also in charge of assisting a couple of students with their English recital. The two girls spoke pretty well so it wasn’t too hard to help them out. Plus, you could only do so much in so little time. After hearing their speeches multiple times and giving them advice, I was told that my Wednesday school teachers wanted to meet me to lesson plan.
My Wednesday school was a bit scary at first because next to no one could speak English. However, my fears soon vanished as I talked to the 5th grade homeroom teacher (which I would be teaching with). She told me her philosophy of team-teaching which basically was teamwork was required to teach and one shouldn’t dump all the work for the other. I was SO relieved to hear this. It may sound like common sense in the U.S. but it isn’t that uncommon for a Japanese teacher to simply let the JET do all the work or just have them repeat after them in class the entire time. In other words, I am extremely lucky. As we talked, I realized that I really needed to do some research because I really couldn’t offer anything in terms of what we should be doing. She sensed this so she decided to help me out for the first day. I felt bad but then again, I have never taught before. Apparently it went well because later on the junior high teacher told me that the elementary teacher thought I was a good teacher and was well prepared. Well, okay. And thus ended my first day!
The second day was a bit more daunting. I had to find my way to my Friday school for the day and the commute is a pain in the ass. First I have to take a train and then I have to walk on confusing roads for about 25 minutes. While I usually don’t mind walking, you have to keep in mind that the summer weather is still present. In other words, I’m walking in super humid weather wearing nice clothes and a backpack on me. By the time I arrived at the school, I was drenched in sweat. The vice principal told me I wasn’t going to have any classes today so I basically sat in the office the entire day. The principal then gave me his welcoming speech to correct which I’m pretty sure he just had the thing translated in Babelfish. Editing it was something else. Eventually one of my teachers stops by and says hi and says something to me in Japanese which I simply nod and smile to.
Big mistake. A bad habit of mine is just to nod and smile, even if I don’t know what the hell people are talking about (in English and Japanese). What I eventually found out is that she was asking me to go to her classroom for a short self-intro to the class, which would last about 30 minutes. Needless to say I was very surprised when a bunch of 5th graders came into the teacher’s office and basically asked me to come to class. When I arrived, the teacher basically said, “Okay, do your self-intro!” I immediately made an inner note to stop and ask if I don’t have a clue what they are saying.
Luckily I had my Powerpoint presentation with me and I had practiced it the night before, just in case. So far my paranoia has always paid off. The self-intro went pretty well and the kids asked me a bunch of questions. After that, we played an easy self intro game. Before I knew it, the teacher was shooing me to the office. The kids waved energetically at me as I left and that’s when I knew elementary schools were awesome. You’re basically a celebrity over there and the kids are very nice.
Back in the office I ate my first school lunch. It was surprisingly delicious. The whole milk in the glass bottle is heaven….I have to watch out for it though as it is fattening:
After lunch, the vice principal drove me to the recital contest. All my coworkers were there and we watched about 40 kids tell stories to the audience. I was really into it because I wanted my kids to win. It was hard to sit through all of it though because there were a lot of repeats and half the stories were super depressing. We have a theory that the reason some of the kids picked those stories was to get play the emotional card but the general atmosphere was just boring and depressing. One of my kids ended up winning a trophy! I was super excited and congratulated her. I don’t know if she was excited though, haha. They took a picture of the entire group afterwards. My girl is on the left side of the trophy holders!:
My JTE told me that she would also be competing in the prefectural competitions so I had to help her once again. After that, my first week of school was over and I was very happy. It was only two half days and I was already exhausted from it. I made sure to enjoy the weekend as much as I could because I knew this week was going to be the real start of the school.
Flashforward to when I wrote this (last Monday). I am at my Monday school. This was one of my biggest worry for the week because all I got from this school was a phone call from a teacher saying “Have a self intro lesson prepared as well as a game!” with no information at all about the teachers and school. Getting here today was an adventure; I had to transfer twice and walk 20 minutes to school. Not to my surprise, I got lost and ended up arriving to school about half an hour late. The vice principal here is a bit reserved and I didn’t get to do introduce myself to the entire staff, which felt odd. I did my intro to the only class I have today and they thought it was cool. I had a lot of students come up to me after class and ask me a bunch of questions. I have a feeling it’s the kids that are really going to keep me going during these hard days. Apparently I only had to teach one class today so now I’m just sitting in the office and writing this. I feel bad if I try to surf the web or do something not work-related because my desk is literally in the front, across from the vice principal. I figured writing on Word doesn’t look too terrible but I will have to figure out what to do during all this free time!