Well, it’s almost the end of another week, and the end of my first full week of teaching! It has been a fairly easy and fun week, but there are definitely some points that stick out. Yesterday morning, (Wednesday 8th) I woke up bright and early (5:30am) to a consistent dipping noise outside of my window. I know the sound, drip drop, very well, since every time it rains, I hear the noise. That's what I get for sleeping in the only room with air conditioning. Well, Wednesday morning the dripping was extra loud. The rain continued through my morning routine and my drive to work. When I finally got to work, everyone was talking about the weather, and to think I just thought it was normal rain, ha. I was wrong; we were experiencing a typhoon (typhoon Malou to be specific). Being a landlocked prefecture, we don’t have much concern for typhoons and tsunamis. However, we are not exempt from flooding. About two weeks before I came to Japan, Yaotsu, a town 20 minutes north of me, experienced flooding due to heavy rain, and they had significant damage to the town and they had a few casualties.
The thunder continued throughout the morning and I couldn't help think about what 300 kids were going to do for recess. Yikes. That would be way too much energy to keep inside! Luckily, the rain and thunder passed right before lunch. At recess, we were lucky enough to be in the eye of the typhoon according to my coworkers (that still seems odd to me, but the weather was calm, no rain or wind).
Wednesday was my first day at Fushimi Elementary School. It is the second largest elementary school of the three, with 300 students. It is on the west side of my town, very close to our neighboring town of Kani. That being said, the attitude of students can be a little daunting. Especially when trying to keep their attention for 45 minutes at a time. I only taught 3 classes at Fushimi thanks to the typhoon, which ended school early. Side note: this is how I know I feel more like a student than a teacher, I was really excited for school to get out early, but being a teacher means you stay no matter what. Aside from my three classes, I got to watch the preparation for “Undokai Day” or Sports Day. Sports Day in Japan is a serious thing, real serious. These students prepare for countless hours, during class, between class, at recess, and after school just for this one day, in which teams (usually red, white, sometimes blue if the school is large enough) compete against each other for basically school glory. They take it very seriously in the weeks before, and I was lucky enough to watch the open chant practice. All the students lined up in the gym and sang a chant/song that I believe is the opening ceremony type song. My iffy translation is that it was basically rallying the troops, “red, red, red, go, go, go” then “white, white, white, go, go, go”. They practiced this a few times and the entire staff was there to watch them. It was cute to see the little first and second graders singing this song with all of their might, whereas the fifth and sixth graders would rather be someone else. When the practice was over, 300 students walked by me, and if you’ve ever had 300 eyes stare at you, the feeling is uneasy. It was like the ultimate stare down. I’ve learned to smile, wave, and say hello, it works every time!
The Self-Introduction Lesson
Right about now, about 1400 new ALTs in Japan are giving their self-introduction lesson. This is the only lesson that we can completely plan ourselves and essentially do whatever we want! After this lesson, the education offices around Japan decide upon every part of the curriculum. Therefore, it was stressed to us at orientation that we should really try to make a great self-introduction that will get the students interested in us and in English. Well, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. My self-introduction has lots of pictures, and sometimes I’ve even brought a golf club. After about a 15-minute introduction of saying where I’m from, telling them about my family, my hobbies, favorite foods, colors, animals, etc., it is question time. I wasn’t going to do an entry on a self-introduction because I thought it would be pretty boring, but alas, I was wrong.
Well, here is a list of the questions I’ve been asked (1st-6th grade).
- What’s my: birthday, height, weight, shoe size, age
- What’s my favorite: movie, actor, actress, singer, Japanese singer, American singer, Japanese food, foreign food, food I like to make, sports, Harry Potter character, country
- Where: do I want to go in Japan, where have I been in the world
- Do I: have a boyfriend (EVERY time), like someone ‘a little’, like ~sensei, want to get married, want kids (how many), like ~student, miss my family
- How many toilets are in my house (this kid was funny)
- What was my job before being an English teacher
- 5 most important things I brought from home (this question started with the most important item, and then the little first graders wanted to know more, so then came #2,3,4,5)
- And countless other questions that I couldn't understand and the Japanese Homeroom Teacher wouldn't translate for me, and all the students would laugh about (you get the picture)…
Now you all know about some of the crazy questions these wonderful little kids ask me. I’m sure there are great ones I’m forgetting, but I will be sure to do an update as I’m not even a ¼ of the way through my self-introductions.
Just to throw in some pictures, these are from my commute from my town (Mitake) to the neighboring town of Kani, where the gym I go to is. It’s about a 15 minute drive given “traffic”, so not too bad.
Volkswagen East Kani City