TL;DR PLEASE READ THE BOTTOM PARAGRAPH BECAUSE I HAVE A BIG DEAL QUESTION XD
I taught for the first time today – it didn’t go badly, necessarily, but there is definitely without a doubt, much to be learned. But before that: I started off today (big, first day of actual, real classroom work) pulling a normal. Which, unfortunately, means, I woke up late, missed my bus, and was 5-minutes-early-which-is-10-minutes-late to work. Glorious, glorious first days. Don’t do a me, folks. I’m just lucky it wasn’t yesterday, when I had to introduce myself at the prompt 8:30 AM meeting.
So in terms of classes, most the class was silent (which is normal), but I would have one or two students in the classes that would be rambunctious as holy hell. It was a little overwhelming, actually – Other JETs, you might get this too at some point, but the teacher of that class came up before the class and said to me, “I’m sorry, my class is a little quiet,” to which I responded, “that’s ok!” Because I figured it would be.
This is one of those cases where I can’t tell if you’re just being really Japanese and skirting the subject by telling a blatant lie or if you actually think they’re quiet, but hot shit, they were downright rowdy!
It’s almost fun though, to have a rowdy class! I’ll have to learn a bit better classroom management, and work harder to not accidentally ignore a student when they speak (a teacher mentioned to me I did that a couple times! So awkward, and also sad! But I really actually couldn’t hear them! /sighs)
Aside from that, there are definitely some students that try to talk to me outside of class! The exciting veneer of a new, foreigner teacher hasn’t worn off yet, so I’ll have to take advantage of it! One kid from the baseball team stopped me as I was going to lunch and introduced himself, informing me, “I like you.”
On a separate note: this picture is of something else I did for the first time today - I went to the grocery store and actually bought useful things!
A question for everyone! Everyone handles it differently, but I haven’t decided what to do yet~ I’ve been thinking I’ll say something different every time, so I will be happily making use of any and every lie you can think of :D When someone asks if I have a boyfriend, what should I say?
Today was the school general assembly for the second semester. For those who don’t know what that means, all you need to know is one thing: 800-odd students, plus a good number of teachers, all sitting in one large gymnasium that doubles as an auditorium, fully prepared to nap through the entirety of the start-of-second-semester speeches.
For me, it meant that I had to do my dreaded introduction to literally everyone. Essentially new teachers (or at least, JETs) have to make two speeches, one for the teachers and one for the entire school. I had already mucked up my introduction to the other teachers - I had planned a nice introduction that included a little more information and the two most keigo-sentences I will probably ever manage in my life but then was told at the last minute (literally, as the principal called me up) to make my speech not 2 minutes, as I had expected, but 15 seconds. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but as someone who doesn’t wing things well in the language she grew up using, winging things in Japanese is nigh impossible. I’m told it turned out alright, but my introduction went from a cute little speech to the most rushed bad-grammar-Japanese I have ever used. It also meant that my speech boiled down to: Hi I’m Kira and I came from America, I bought you all things. Please help yourselves. Good to meet you.
What kind of speech is that anyways?!
But teachers said it was ok, and it seemed like everyone was in a rush in any case so I suppose it will do. (I mean it has to do, it’s not like I have some kind of time turner…)
My speech to the students went more as planned. I again skipped a section, but my JTEs were pleased regardless. They had previously instructed me to speak in “fast English”, because they wanted to see the faces of their students when they couldn’t understand anything. Apparently, I delivered, although my “fast” English was more born out of nerves than my actual attempted speaking pace.
The entire auditorium started muttering and the students all started looking around to see if their friends knew what I was saying - there was in general a lot of commotion. I was also the only person who received applause before and after my speech, which is cute but also meant I turned bright fire-truck red right there in front of the auditorium.
In any case, my first class (I’m teaching for about 20 minutes, anyways) is tomorrow, so we will see how well I really do from here on out!
To all the JETs out there: I hope your introductions went well (better than mine anyways haha) and that your first month teaching(/observing because that’s what I hear I will be doing mostly. Only one teacher wants to jump straight into team-teaching. Not complaining - it would be good to have an idea of the way classes are run to begin with before I try to wedge myself in there somewhere anyways) will go well!
This weekend was interesting. Train fees are a little expensive here (read more for details), so transportation fees have been wracking up unexpectedly fast. Instead of me paying to go to the 23 wards again, two of my fellow JETs decided to come towards me, and we met up in Tachikawa to wander around and check out Tama’s largest city. I finally snagged a good, work-quality, black bag that would be big enough to fit my folders, so I was pretty pleased. The Book-Off Bazaar is quite a destination!
Backtracking, this is where it starts to get interesting. I spent the day before going to the Aeon Mall in Hinode, what I hear is the largest Aeon mall branch. Walking in was such sensory overload - all I wanted was a pair of black flats I could use as inside shoes, but I left the mall with organizational materials, new notebooks, and having lost 15 dollars to a crane game (that I didn’t win).
At this point, the night begins to deviate from interesting and starts to move toward weird - I met up with some of the other JETs that are living in my area, and we attempted to go to a bar but ended up standing outside of a host club for an hour instead. I have never been so actively hit on by another girl (she said she was 19. all I could think about was ‘tell me she’s not one of my students, please please please’) - she was aiming for the three tall Caucasian-ass guys standing with me, and had for some reason, assumed I was Japanese (this keeps happening).
Eventually her rather pretty-boy host club friends call for her and she leaves, blowing a kiss. It felt like some sort of sandstorm had passed, and the feeling that something happened far too quickly for my brain to keep up had nothing to do with any sort of alcohol induced brain-fuzziness. I haven’t been so deeply confused in a very long time.
At that point, I was going to miss my last train home, so I decided to leave - which didn’t quite work because then everyone decided we would head to my station and drink near there. As far as I recall, my area has little to offer but luckily, one of the guys I was with had been to a bar near the station several nights ago, and was able to recommend it. This is where we start moving away from weird, and start sprinting towards ADORABLE. All caps intended.
We end up at the cutest possible izakaya-type place. There can be no other. It was run by a little old Japanese woman who made us the most delicious yaki-ramen and okonomiyaki that I’ve had in a while. The drinks were good, but even more enticing is this: there was a cat at the bar. His name was Jirusanda and I will be there more often for his sake.
There’s more in between, but the night culminated in the confirmation that I had a mushroom growing from my ceiling.
24 August 2014
Today was mostly spent hashing out details regarding what I might be doing next week. Next week, meaning, the first week of 2nd semester. Meaning, the students will be (finally) in.
I get to introduce myself in front of the gym/auditorium full of students. It’s a little nerve-wracking; it’s a little silly because yes, I signed up to be a teacher, but I’m not at my most comfortable when I public speak. A classroom setting is easier. I’ve done similar things
(holla, DAC) but the smaller group makes a more intimate atmosphere, which I do better in in general.
In any case, my JTEs have asked me to do my introduction fully in English. In fact, they’ve specified that they would like ‘fast English’, because they think it will be funny to see the looks on the students faces. I wonder if this will be a good indication what kind of classes my JTEs will teach! As I had been slowing down my speech, and more carefully forming sentences (since I most regularly speak exclusively in tumblrspeak,
aka incoherently) as it was with the teachers, I haven’t figured out what to do about the introduction.
This picture is a picture from my walk home from the nearby train station. I would offer a picture of my painful long attempt to ride my bike home, but I already almost rode into traffic three times, so there was no picture taking on my part. Apologies, for trying to survive to the first week of my actual work.
28 August 2014
This too is Tokyo.
Yes I shamelessly reblog myself. Apologies - it has to do with the fact that I want these pictures to appear from my portfolio page as my main link.
I went with my JTE yesterday to go to a middle school she used to work at in order to hand out information about Fussa High School. In essence, I went as a recruiter, representing Fussa HS, but in reality, I did a lot of smiling, bowing, and nodding to everything said.
One reason my JTE thought I might be interested was because of the area - this is Oume. It is about a 15 minutes train ride from Fussa Station, and is a sparsely populated area with many mountains and monkeys. Oume and Okutama are important in that they remind us that like New York, while the general image might be of the city, there is much more beyond the main tourist attractions.
I went to my first ever swim meet today! It was at a university about 30 minutes away, in Hachioji. Much of Hachioji is, like Fussa and Higashiakiru, newly built. It seems like much of the Tama area is actually very new. This is the type of area that has a lot of old family homes, where generations upon generations have lived. My JTE was telling me that his great grandfather grew up in his current house, and his children will likely keep the house as well. There are a number of families here that are like that, but there is also a great deal of new development. Many new homes and stores were built about 20 years ago, and many of the fields have become residential units. It’s an interesting mix – on one hand, there are many people who are moving into Tama who have never been before, but there are also many people who have been here for years.
But I digress. Every other day I’ve been in this country, I have been sweating balls and slowly melting into a gross mess. So naturally, the day that we go to an outdoor swimming pool for a swimming meet that would have spectators sitting outside for roughly six to seven hours would be the first cold and rainy day since I’ve arrived. Luckily, though I dressed for the heat up top (aka a tank top and a light, thin top), I had decided to wear my regular black jeans in an attempt to look more business-casual than casual. I was almost ok, until the wind and rain picked up in the last two hours of the meet.
It was nonetheless fun though! I’m not strictly supposed to put pictures online (and it feels weird anyways) but I did want to share just a little, so I blurred the hell out of the picture that would most likely be a problem! These are pictures of the campus we were on, and a small sliver of the pool. The competition was the San-Tama Suiei Shiai
(which I may have made up), essentially meaning that schools from the three Tamas (North, West, and South) were present. It’s hard to tell who ‘wins’ at a swimming meet like that, since there were maybe over 200 swimmers and only 8 lanes at a time. But in any case, one of the boys from Fussa High School came in second in his block – this was also the team captain, a second year student at the school.
I really like the club life in Japan – there’s an amazing thing about the level of dedication, and how much of the student’s lives are based on their clubs. I think I just really like ‘nakama’ power, which doesn’t translate well in English but is essentially a really strong spirit of teamwork and team-ness. I think that’s one aspect of Japanese schools that I wish I myself had been able to experience.
I will eventually find a high enough vantage point to take this picture!
On days when its rainy, the sky lights up a startling pink/red right as the sun sets. At another angle, it outlines the Okutama mountains.
That’s it for now, folks. I’m going to cheer on the school’s Swimming team at the inter-school competition tomorrow! Gotta meet at the station at 6:00 AM, so I gotta sleep or I’ll be late!
I wish I had more guts and was less self-conscious sometimes though - it’d make this meeting people and making friends a lot easier! Or maybe it wouldn’t, I guess I wouldn’t really know at this point! I love watching the teachers interact with their students. It’s really interesting to watch, how much the students like messing around with the teachers. I remember being one of those students, and I hope, at some point, the students will be comfortable enough around me to mess around too
This cutie gave me the most suspicious stare when I walked by, taking pictures of the Tama River. Last time I saw a stray cat, it looked vaguely sick. I hope I get to pet cats again soon!
More importantly: The cashier at the seven eleven on my corner is apparently a student at my school. In itself, this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s actually almost cute, like seeing a cute little student at the conbini at his part time job working hard. Except it’s nothing like that, and instead of it being cute, it’s horrifying because he totally knows all of my awful eating habits. He undoubtedly knows that I’ve been buying pre-made meals from the seven eleven every other day or so (often more).
Conbini food is just too conbini…
So the real question is: How am I supposed to be an authoritative figure when the students know that all I do is eat conbini food?!
My JTEs are the sweetest things.
Read more under the line about this. It ended up being kind of long, but really, for any future Fussa High School JETs, this is a wonderful placement. It really is.
In other news: I am officially the baby of the office. My main chick JTE literally said to me to think of her as my “other mom”. The next person in age is 24, which doesn’t seem that far except for the fact that she definitely has her life together in a way I can only dream I one day will. How I went from ‘fellow teacher’ to ‘baby’ I don’t even know. Is it my face? Do I perpetually look like I’m lost and need help (because it’s not untrue but wow I thought I was better at the blank emotionless stare)!
Ask Away :D