My first day of school was yesterday and while it wasn’t particularly thrilling I had some general thoughts about my experience that I wanted to share. I know some of my high school teachers, if they read this, will appreciate where I am coming from and then nearly die laughing at the divine retribution that I will be paying for my ill behavior in school.
First off, Japanese children are incredibly well behaved. Seriously. To start the school year the teaching staff held an assembly to introduce all the new teachers to the students who are in 8thand 9th grade. When I was in 8th or 9th grade and all of my class was in a room together the crowd roar was deafening. In the Japanese assembly you could hear a pin drop. They all just sat there and didn’t move unless instructed through the entire opening ceremony. It was almost kind of eerie. Hopefully they are like that in class. It makes teaching anything easier when the students are well behaved. I know this from years of misbehaving and making life miserable for teachers.
Part of the assembly was the introduction of the new teachers and this was done while we solemnly sat in a semi circle on the stage and each teacher gave a short speech about where we were from and what we were teaching at the school. Of course everything was in Japanese… except for my speech. “Hello, my name is Andrew Kehoe, I’m from California, USA and I’m excited to help you all with English!”
These assemblies are very formal. The Principal here was basically wearing a tuxedo with tails for the introduction of all the 7th graders. All he was missing was the top hat. No joke. I had a three-piece suit on and I felt a little under dressed. The Japanese teaching staff dresses very formally, full suit and tie everyday so my suit collection should be expanding very soon. Except for shoes, in the school no one wears dress shoes, they wear house slippers or athletic shoes of some sort. It takes some getting used to. I bought black and white Chuck Taylor Converse low tops to match my black and grey suits and blue Vans style slip-ons to match by blue suits.
Another interesting part of Japanese culture is gift giving. I am not aware of the full extent to where it comes from but if you travel anywhere it is considered very polite to bring back something from where you visited. I bought some magnets from Fukushima for my Principal and the Vice-Principal. As it turns out the magnet that I bought is of the Principal’s hometown. Culture point bonus 100X Level UP!
I’m really glad I invested in a new computer before I came to Japan. They have a computer for me here at this school but the keyboard is set up as a QWERTY keyboard with all the keys for Hiragana and Katakana script. There are also buttons for Kanji. The buttons for Kanji are right next to the space bar. I’ll be typing a sentence and then half of it switches to Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana characters. All of the icons, menu options and pop up windows are also all in Japanese, which I can’t read. Basically I am surprised the computer has not exploded just yet and I can’t seem to change the right setting to get the whole thing in English.
I am really looking forward to getting to know my students. As an assistant the lesson planning is not really up to me. I am here to bring native speech and to expand on the lesson plan through creative activities that supplement the textbook. I can’t wait to get started.