11 September 2011

The First Week

Posted by Roland under: JET .

Just got through my first full week of teaching at the schools and I have to admit, I am worn out. I remember when I did Junior Achievement and we had to put in full days at the schools, it was more tiring than any consulting day I had. But now we had back to back days of teaching, i.e. actually teaching at the schools. And even then, I wasn’t a fully fledged teacher, but rather the assistant, so I didn’t have to deal with other problems teachers faced, like lesson planning.

But man, by the end of the week I was done. If anything, it made me realize that I need to get more sleep. Maybe somehow in consulting I got through with 6 hours of sleep, but that would not play at the schools. Basically, you’re always on. It’s a constant drain on your energy and made me realize that 8 hours is required. When was the last time I got 8 hours of sleep? It was tough for me to remember. One day this last week, I was able to get 8 hours and while I did yawn through the day, I didn’t feel the need to nap, which was a marked improvement over other days. That, combined with the humidity makes sleepiness easy to find.

Another difficulty that I have, which is probably unique to my situation is that 4 days out of the week, I’m doing half a day at an elementary school and half a day at the middle school. So after lunch at the elementary, I have to head on back to the middle school. It’s not a particularly hard transfer or anything but it does admittedly break up the rhythm of the school day. After spending the morning getting in the elementary mindset, I have to switch gears to the middle school and sometimes it’s not so easy. While grateful it increases my exposure at my “base” school, the middle school, it makes it harder to get to know the elementary kids (which is always on the playground).

While I start off with complaints, in the end, I’m extremely happy I’m here. Sure, I get tired, but it’s nothing a good night’s sleep can’t fix (as long as I fight the desire to watch Japanese TV till late). The classes themselves have been great. Some classes are a bit more energetic than others, but no one has really misbehaved. If anything, they’re a bit too excited to have a change of pace. I’ll find out throughout the year if they’re actually paying attention to the English lessons, but the kids seem happy to see me. And really, that feeling can’t be beat.

Over this first week I’ve been mainly focusing on my introduction lesson, which is easy enough (talking about me, Maryland, San Francisco, things I like). The elementary school kids love it when I bring out the American football for them to feel and play with. They also like to hit it on their heads and smell it for some reason. But for pretty much everyone, it’s their first time seeing a football in person.

Still, I’m glad to be done with that Powerpoint though. That brings the next challenge for me though, which is lesson planning. I don’t have nearly as much to do as my high school counterparts, as the middle schools pretty much have a set lesson plan. The elementary schools are a little different, the 5th and 6th grades usually have a vague plan to work with, but there’s a lot of room to add things. And then some schools want me to teach the 1st to 4th graders, where there is almost never a plan in place. Rather, I have to bring my own ideas to the table. This is the part that worries me a bit, as it’s nothing I’ve had to do before. I have a lot of materials left over here at the house, now it’s a matter of picking the right ones to use in my classes.

One week down, many more to go, but I’m loving it so far. Tiring, but fantastic.

2 Comments so far...

Eric Says:

11 September 2011 at 6:02 am.

Good to hear things are going so well. I’m glad the kids are responding so positively to you. I’m anxious to hear more details of your interactions with them as you get a better sense of everyone’s ability.

Johnson Says:

11 September 2011 at 4:37 pm.

glad to hear things are going well! keep the stories coming!

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