Monday, April 12, 2010
A Day's Work
Well, I finished my first full day of actual work today, and I must say that it felt good. The first day of school was last Wednesday, but I didn't teach as much of the day was spent on welcome ceremonies. My base school that I will be spending three days a week at is a Middle School, or in Japanese a chūgakkō 中学校. In the Japanese school system elementary school covers six grades, middle school three grades and high school three grades. So I will primarily be teaching middle school first, second and third graders aka ichinensei 一年生, ninensei 二年生 and sannensei 三年生.
The day started with a welcome ceremony for the second and third graders with a good number of speeches, including a short one from yours truly that had my legs quaking something fierce. I don't know why, I've never really had anxiety speaking before, but one minute of introduction to a hundred Japanese kids had me terrified! That assembly was followed by a far more lavish ceremony for the incoming first graders.
The auditorium was filled with teachers, students, parents, local community leaders and more, and the youngsters paraded down the center of the seating with almost military precision. There followed more speeches, introductions and a rousing rendition of the school song and the national anthem.
However, once the ceremonies were over, my job was done for the week! In all the hubub of getting the new school year started nobody needed any input from the assistant language teacher, so I was left to plan lessons for this week and study the name kanji of the teachers. Doing nothing while appearing to do something is actually very hard work, and yet is also excruciatingly boring. By Friday I was well on the road around the bend, and only a fantastic weekend saved what little is left of my sanity.
Luckily, today was a much more productive and fun day. I used the lessons I planned last week in four classes, both sannensei classes and both ichinensei classes. Finally making it to the classroom was fantastic, the kids were a lot of fun, full of curiosity and enthusiasm, well except for the girl who slept through part of the class. Simply getting out of the teachers room and DOING something was more than enough to turn my frown upside down, and the whole day passed much more quickly than any day last week. I have four more classes tomorrow, followed by a mere two on Wednesday, though these will be the first actually taught from the textbook rather than introduction lessons drawn from my own life and imagination. Thursday and Friday will bring an entirely new adventure, as I see just what teaching elementary school is like!