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Teacher Dash!

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

My teaching career has officially begun!

All indications are that it went quite well, though I think the actual teaching of English will be hard. Perhaps I can convince myself that just by speaking in English, they will just pick it up through osmosis and begin blurting phrases I use like: “Awesome!” and “My brother is 190 cm tall!” Might be a slight exaggeration but it sounds so much better than 188 or whatever he actually is. Though my re-enactment of him walking into the top of the door went over quite well! Teaching elementary school kids is really more acting than teaching, I have decided, especially here in Japan.

There are about thirty kids in one class here. One of my classes has 35. While they are surprisingly well behaved, thirty five kids is still thirty five kids. It makes classes go faster because they all have to participate, but it also makes lesson preparation a real drag because you have to prepare at least 18 of everything (as long as you put people in pairs.) I spent last night cutting out 160 something little squares for my bingo game. They probably won’t last past the week because it’s just paper, meaning I’ll have to do it all over again (or figure out a better system, which is what I am leaning towards…it took me an hour to cut out all those damn squares!)

So far I have been asked the following questions at the end of class:
How tall are you?
Are you married?
Do you have a girlfriend?
What’s your favorite (insert just about anything here, food, color, fruit, etc.)
What do you like to study? (my answer: nothing! I hate studying, haha. Oops.)
Who is your favorite sports player (like they’d know who Tim Wakefield is…:-/)
What is your blood type? (An ever popular question in Japan)

The kids are very eager to ask questions and to get to know me better, so that’s a plus. Hopefully that will last a while, and not go away after like a week. I don’t get these fourth graders again until next month or something, so it should keep the hype alive.

Now into my second day of teaching, I am reminded of something my friend Jeffrey said (Jeff is another ALT in Nakatsu, and oddly enough his name is Jeffrey Schultz, though I assure you there is no relation!) I told him that I would be teaching four classes a day, and generally teaching the same grade level, but different classes. At my big school, it means teaching three fourth grade classes. Today at Jyosui it meant teaching two first and two second grade classes. Jeff said: “Oh that’s great! You’ll be able to improve your lesson immediately after you teach it! Anything you notice in your first lesson you can correct in your second, that’s really useful!” This has proved to be incredibly true! My first three classes on Monday went well, to be sure, but there were some things I could have done to improve them. I wrote them down in a notebook I am keeping for that very reason, and indeed my second day as I added to my lesson, it got better and better. I adapted the lesson a bit to the different age group, but by the end of the day, as I was teaching the second first grade class, the lesson was really going well! I implemented all my changes, got everything together, and it was definitely the best lesson I had so far! All the kids seemed really into it, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Being able to improve my lessons immediately like this is really nice, and after having taught it seven times now, I have it down pat! I know exactly how long each segment lasts, have though of more extension exercises to do in case one of my activities goes a little short, and it’s really a well oiled machine, which is very exciting. I feel like a real teacher, and I’ve only been at it for two days! Woo!

So there’s my teacher’s perspective. As a human being, I’m EXHAUSTED!!! Oh my God! Teaching four classes of 6,7 and 8 year olds was one thing, but then they asked me if I wanted to play with them after lunch! Of course I said yes, and so I spent 45 minutes being led around by tiny little ones in red hats, all of them grabbing my arms, stroking my arm hair, trying to see up my shirt, and climbing on my back. I signed a lot of notebooks, we played tag, climbed on many many structures, and then went up to the library to read. While we were up in the library I was literally dripping sweat, my beard acting like a funnel to create a near constant stream of sweat streaming down my face and onto my lap.

My voice is hoarse from speaking loudly, my back hurts and my feet have blisters all over.

And yet I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time! Tomorrow are the 5th and 6th graders! They will be an entirely new breed, so we’ll see how it goes!



  1. Winnie
    September 6, 2009 at 9:55 am

    YEAH DASH! I knew you would be one of the cool teachers. Kids are naturally kids are curious (my nephew only 3yrs felt me up looked up my shirt and down my pants and in addition asked me what are these and points to his penis…@_@) Oh an answer to the square question if your not already doubling up those sheets of paper and cutting, do they have a paper cutter? or don’t have squares make it fit on a regular sheet of paper and make photo copies. I learned kids don’t care what it looks like as long as they have fun 🙂 Take care dash i’m proud of you!

  2. Jule
    September 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Glad to know I have become comic relief…I guess I’m good for something..:) 6’4″ = 76″ = 193cm, so you can correct yourself next time.

  3. Sam K
    September 8, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Any idea why people ask “What is your blood type?” is there a shortage of blood there or an abundance of vampires?

  4. Sam K
    September 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Also, did you get a new bike? was the covered in the other posts?

  5. Akiko
    September 15, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    子供に囲まれて若干テンパってる姿が想像つくわ。笑 はいはい、ちょっと待ってください! hehe

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