Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"And in the morning you wake up and the signs point to you."

This is where things get interesting.

Yesterday we were brought to the school and given a tour. It's exactly how I imagined it would be - it's like the set of a dozen school dramas rolled into one (school is a very popular setting for television shows in Japan - it's rife with romance and violence, excellent entertainment). It's not a beautiful building, or particularly new, but it has a clean, efficient feel to it. Yesterday there were no students yet, but staff was everywhere getting ready for them - there was even someone mending the curtains in a classroom.

There are 21 classes, seven for each year, with 30-35 kids in each. Chuugakou - junior high - covers three years. The teachers are all very nice - two of the Japanese teachers of English showed us around, and I was amazed by how young they both are. And even though there's a room labeled Principal's office, both he and the vice spend all their time with the rest of the staff. There are around forty faculty, which makes for four rows of desks in the staff room. I have my own desk, across from A. the other ALT but it has some office supplies on it so it's rather public. And there's a phone right next to it which I'm terrified to answer because I wouldn't be able to get past "Moshi-moshi, nantoka Chuugakou desu."

Today was the entrance ceremony - all the children lined up in the gym (which is freezing and leaks) in their neat uniforms - the girls wear navy sera fuku, and the boys black gakuran. They had to sit in this awkward-looking position holding their knees, and some of the older boys would slid into cross-legged, only to be tapped by a patrolling teacher. They - and us teachers - also had to "Stand! Bow!" a few dozen times while three students and several teachers gave speeches. They also sang a couple of simple school anthems that I just bobbed my head along to.

I was amazed by the size difference - first years, about thirteen years old, look SO tiny, but some of the third years, about fifteen, are taller than I am. There was one boy with a shaved head and he stood out like - well, like a billiard ball. One of the speeches seemed to be about rules because I caught the words kamera, keitai - cell phone - and kami - hair, which made all the girls touch their heads nervously.

There were no lessons today, so after the ceremony A. and I just sat for a good deal of time in the staff room, looking over the textbooks and begging to be given tasks. Everyone was rushing around so hurriedly, so they finally let us fold some pamphlets.

Tomorrow I start with an introduction lesson - I'm very nervous. I don't know how to make an entire lesson out of boring facts like "my name is, I am from." I keep getting to bed at a decent hour but waking up and three or so with a pounding heart, unable to get back to sleep.


Beeniac said...

Hi Em,

I'm so glad you posted. I've been waiting to hear how your first day went. By now, you've probably already had your "introduction" lesson. Just give them lots of time to participate and practice. Give them each a chance to respond to "my name is.." then let them practice on each other, while you listen and make corrections as needed.

The waking up too early should get better as you get used to it.
You've survived CGST all these years, with much rowdier students, right?

Nina's started running at Bridget and jumping up and hugging her around the neck. She's probably thinking she's attacking, but it's still pretty cute.

Love you,

woody said...

hey Emily,
I knwo everything there is to knwo about sleep---if you keep having problems i can give you advice. Until then mayeb you can give me advice. I'm debating applyign to schools in New york city. Do you have an opnion on CUNY Hunter college in manhattan? Do you think I'd like Brooklyn, or is Manhattan the best? love wood