LOTS has happened since I started school about 10 days ago – I’ll give you guys the highlights 🙂
- So as a new teacher, you are expected to introduce yourself to both the teachers and to the entire student body. I had introduced myself to the teachers when I first got to Shinano around the beginning of August, but I had to do it again on the first day of school (which I was surprised with – the principal suddenly gestured for me to come to the front of the room during the teacher’s meeting… Almost forgot my Japanese right then). Later that day, another new teacher and I stood in front of 500 students and did the introduction to the students.
- Also as a new teacher, you are expected to do a self-intro lesson with all of your classes. Since I am a rare case with only one school, I am required to do this lesson with EVERY CLASS in the school – about 20x total, with 1st—9th On the second day of school, I did my lesson with a class of sixth graders. The JTE for that class came to me a while before class started and told me that the sixth graders really like to bet and guess; so if I could put more questions in my PowerPoint like “what is my favorite Pokémon” or “what is my favorite animal” and have them guess, they’d have lots of fun.
She was right. They had fun, and I think I may have had MORE fun than them. I had made the powerpoint with lots of animations, so when it was time to reveal the answers, the wrong ones would disappear, fly off the screen, or do some other dramatic thing. The kids got super into it, yelling and screaming when their answer disappeared, and cheering when they got the right one. My favorite BY FAR though was the food slide. I have it rigged so that all the answers disappear from the screen, and when I click again, one of the pictures comes back. So the kids all make their guesses, I start the animation, and they start cheering because they guessed the one left. Then it disappears too. DEAD SILENCE followed by mass chaos as they all start yelling and pointing at me and the screen, like “you tricked us!” I laughed so hard. The other five classes I’d done that with had not given me near the reaction I was hoping for, and these kids finally delivered.
- By Thursday, I had given my self-intro with most of the classes in the school. I still had all of ninth grade and some elementary classes to present to, but I was done with the bulk. In my lesson, I tell them one of my hobbies is making cupcakes. I show them pictures of cupcakes I’ve made and why I made them. So Thursday, I was sitting in my desk correcting papers, when a group of third graders came into the room. I didn’t pay them any attention – students come into the teacher’s room all the time. But this time, they came to my desk. I looked up in surprise at the small group of third graders now clustered around my desk, when one suddenly handed something to me very proudly – a cupcake. 「カップケーキを作った」”We made cupcakes!” Apparently, they had only made cupcakes because I told them I liked them in my lesson! I said thank you in English which stressed them out, so I said it in Japanese, and their faces just lit up. I was adorable! They left after that, and were quickly followed by more third graders who all raced over to my desk and gave me another cupcake, then gave the rest of them to the other teachers in the room ❤
- Later that day, as I was leaving school, I was ambushed by students. I was walking through the crowd like usual, when a younger girl asked me my name. I stopped and chatted with her for a while, and when I turned around, there were probably 10, 1st – 6th grade girls, standing around me. They bombarded me with questions and, upon seeing my engagement ring around my neck, freaked out.
“Did your boyfriend give you that?!”
“Yes, he did.”
“WHAT’S HIS NAME WHERE DOES HE LIVE IS HE AMERICAN ARE YOU SAD HE’S NOT HERE –“
“WAIT!!!” one girl shouted above the rest. “If you have a boyfriend, does that mean…… HAVE YOU BEEN ON A DATE???!!!!”
“Yes, I have!” At this point, they all started jumping up and down, hitting each other and yelling.
“What did you do? Where did you go????”
“We went to the movies.”
“Awwwwwww I wanna go to the movie theater with a boooooyyyyyyyy,” they all yelled. It was pretty adorable 🙂
Well, that’s all of the highlights for the first week. It hasn’t all been cupcakes and cute students though; students have mocked me in class, I didn’t know what I was doing for most of the first week (still not convinced I know now, AFTER the first week), and it is very difficult being completely surrounded by Japanese. Especially with the little kids, I often can’t understand them or don’t know enough Japanese to answer their questions. The older kids act like I’m fluent in Japanese and seem annoyed when I can’t talk to them in Japanese. On top of all of this, I was in the area warned about the North Korean missile that was fired on Tuesday, which scared me out of my mind for a good hour or so even though everyone at school acted like nothing had happened.
So no, everything is not always cupcakes and cute students. I cannot learn Japanese overnight. I cannot be a perfect teacher overnight. I cannot learn the school routine overnight.
But I CAN do my best to keep a positive outlook, I CAN be patient with myself, I CAN be flexible and understanding, and I CAN treat every day as a learning experience.
Bring it on, week 2!!
Until next time!