My my friends and family. These kids are freaking adorable. I’ve never really considered myself good with kids in life, but in these elementary schools I can’t help but smile. Daigonishi ES yesterday was my first actual attempt in front of the students, and it went MAGNIFICENTLY! The kids were rowdy, and I had to talk pretty loud more than once, but in the long run they weren’t all that bad in the slightest! (I know that any of the veteran JETs reading this are probably thinking ‘just you wait’)
As I may have mentioned before, the elementary and Junior High schools in Japan operate a bit differently than they do in the states. Each class has it’s own particular room. So there is the room for 6-1, which means 6th grade, class #1. In this system, the teachers of different subjects move from class to class, and the students stay put. Each class also has a ‘homeroom’ teacher, which is essentially a person who is with them all day. So for Daigonishi, Mr. Sawamura (the English teacher) and I go to each of the classes to team teach the students. Usually the homeroom teacher will just sit in the back messing with papers during the lesson. So for my first day in the ring, I only had two classes (easy start). The kids were well behaved, Mr. Sawamura was easy to work with, and we spend the rest of the day making teaching materials for future lessons. It was an awesome day. I would love to show you all pictures, but Kyoto-shi is very strict about not taking pictures of students and posting them on social media due to current events, so I can’t. Sorry =(.
Thursday, I went to Ikedahigashi ES. When they say every situation is different during orientation, they aren’t kidding! The school principal greeted me at the door and led me to the teachers’ room. This teachers’ room was a bit smaller than all the other schools, and much hotter. So here’s basically how the day went down (A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MAAAAAAAAATTTTT JOOOOOOOOOHHNNNNSOOOOOOOONNNNNNN’)
5:30 Wake up. Realize it’s not time to be up. Go back to sleep.
6:15 Wake up. Freak out a bit. Realized I’m right on schedule.
7:00 Leave the apartment (sometimes I’m a bit later, but I plan for that)
8:00(ish) Arrive at work.
When I arrived, I had to take off my shoes and change into my second pair in order to enter the actual building. After changing my shoes and finding my shoe locker, I was led into the room to a chorus of ‘Ohayougozaimasu’ which sounds more like ‘gozaimas’ because everyone is…idk lazy or something. Annyways, at this point, most schools will have a brief morning meeting. Today’s school did not in lieu of the fact that they had a staff meeting after work today. So I did NOT introduce myself to the staff in the morning. Instead, I was led to my desk, where I immediately met the school nurse (she sits across from me…Ms. Yamauchi. She studied a little bit of English, and is probably one of the better English speakers in the school. So for first period, I sat around talking to the nurse. Second period on of the teachers snagged me and brought me up to my first actual class of the year.
This was the 5th grade class, and they were demonic monsters of cuteness. Seriously, ya just wanna hug them. It was a bit difficult to keep them focused, but once I got to the ‘me being awesome’ part of my presentation they piped down. I introduced myself, used my fancy shmancy powerpoint, and afterwards actually went around and personally introduced myself to every student in the class.
Class 6-2 was my next group. This class just consisted of the homeroom teacher and myself, but it went very well! I had a bit more practice this class learning to keep the student busy on my own. My powerpoint introduction (which I displayed on the classroom TV (which is like…a 50″ flat panel)) took about 20-25 minutes. This included my name, where I was from, my family, my friends, sports, interests, music, more music, a picture of Chicago, and so on. After the intro, I had the students break into their groups and come up with a question for me as a team. Questions ranged from ‘How old are you’ to ‘How strong is your grip’. Afterwards, I had the students pass a ball around the room, and when a student got the ball they would have to introduce themselves to me. At the end there were still a few minutes left, so the teacher had this great idea to have me arm wrestle the students. So in turn order, I wrestled the strongest kid in the class (pretty beastly for a 6th grader), the…second strongest kid in the class? And the baseball team pitcher (strongest of the three, but probably because he put his entire body into it). Anyways, it was fun.
Class 6-1 was pretty much a solo show. The teacher didn’t really do anything, and I had to work to get her into the game. It went pretty well! I learned from my earlier mistakes, and pretty much did the exact same thing. I HAD A PROBLEM THOUGH! During the ‘pass the ball to the next person’ game, a kid chucked the ball at the face of another (a lovely accidental combination of throwing too fast and a terrrrrible catch). So instead of introducing himself, the kid pretty much shut down and kinda started crying, so there’s a new one for me. I just kinda…retrieved the ball and passed it to the next kid, and let the JTE work out the crying student. It all seemed to shake out, but I hope to have a chance to talk to the JTE about what to do if that happens in the future. (I talked to her about it, apparently what I did was exactly what I should have done.)
Friday marked the end of my first week of actually teaching! Whoooaaaa! It went very well. I had 4 classes that day and I was fortunately a little more prepared for class. My game plan with these classes is basically this; give my 20 minute introduction, have them work in groups to come up with two questions to ask me, and then play a key word game. It was lots of fun, and the kids love the games. Good ol kids. There are two teachers there who seem more willing to speak English than the rest, Mr. Nagai and Mr. Mizowaki, who happen to be friends it seems.
Friday night was……you guessed it! Clubbing in Osaka!! How did you know?!? That was fun, we supported a couple JET DJ’s at a place called Lapichu, then headed off to Azure (not Osaka’s hottest club) for a night of adventure? I hit up a BK at about 4am (which was incredible) and ended up getting home at 7:30ish. Intense.
Saturday was a rest day mostly, aside from a few hours I spend playing some mario cart/mario party on the n64 at a buddy’s place. We ordered pizza, and I had the lovely privilege of paying about $20 for a Domino’s pizza. eesh.
Sunday was a chore day, getting the life back together for Monday. I met up with a few guys and got some Nepalese curry, then went to the bar to watch Liverpool (who is apparently my favorite soccer team now) beat Manchester United.
All this of course brings me to today (Monday). I had four classes today, all of which were NOT self introductions. This was the real deal people, and ya know what? It went well! The kids were crazy energetic and a bit tricky, but all in all, things went really well. I had to give two different lessons, teaching the kids directions and color/shapes. I was far more prepared for the directions lesson; the colors/shapes lesson I nearly made up as I went along (I had a skeleton idea of what I wanted to do, but trashed most of it in the classroom). The hero of the day? Four colored shapes in the four corners of the room, each with an action the kids had to do when they got there. One corner I made them spin, the other they had to jump…man, they eat that shit up.
So to put it simply, life is good. I miss you all.