Monday, April 20, 2009

First Day of School Recap

First Day of School:

6am - Woke up simultaneously by the town's bells and my own alarm. Looked outside and saw a beautiful day.

6:05 am - Remembered it was the first day of class. Got excited. Feeling good, feeling great.

7am - Got ready to go. Clean shaven and decked out.

8am - In the ride and driving to school.

8:25am - Parked at school. Feeling kind of anxious. Where'd that knot in my stomach come from?

8:30am - Sitting in a teacher's meeting not knowing a single thing being said. Feeling pretty dumb but it makes me think about how my students may feel when they don't understand me...

9:00am - An assembly is held in my honor. Wait, what? All the students and teachers congregate in the gym and I am formally introduced to the school. I give a speech in English to introduce myself. And the crowd goes wild like Hollyfield has just won the fight. Hey, maybe I shouldn't feel so nervous after all...

10:00am - First class. Most of my lessons this week will be class introductions so I just put on a smile and talk loud and slow. Confidence always pays. They looked half scared, half excited. I told them about myself, my family, my college and my hobbies. Then I taught them how to do the robot. They loved it! I felt half man, half amazing.

11:00am - rest of the day - I had 3 other classes today and please, believe the hype: I had heard that we'd feel like celebrities here but I didn't realize they'd seriously treat me like a superstar. The kids were so excited to see me. They'd run up to me in the halls and wave frantically from afar. I was apparently able to tame one of the loudest and most rambunctious classes just by being there. One girl asked to take a picture with me (I politely declined).

Afterschool - I walked around, talking to as many students as I could. I wanted to come across as friendly and non threatening as possible. I asked them about themselves and their club activities and joined in wherever I could: handball, volleyball (missed all my serves), band (played the snare), computer club (got served in a computer game) and so on. I sat in on a student council meeting and then told them about my high school back in the 90's.

This, I found, was a great approach. Students became even more receptive and liked that I was taking an interest in their hobbies and activities. I let them teach me Japanese to show that it's okay to not know a foreign language and that it's a learning process.

Just like high school in the states, students here are afraid of making mistakes, especially in front of their peers. So I wanted to start encouraging them early on. If I make them comfortable it'll be easier to teach them.

All in all, I gotta say it was a good day.


  1. Kind of sounds like my first day as an ALT.

  2. Wow! That sounds so amazing. To be inserted into another culture like that. Did it remind you of your high school days? ...meaning the clichés in the halls, interactions among teachers and students? How's your Japanese coming along? Ohiyo Gozaimasu!

    -friend of Omagus ;D

  3. Aww, you'll be such a good teacher! Sounds like a really great first day of school!

    Enjoy being a superstar, cause while we like you back here at home ... :-P

  4. Nice! Nice! Nice!

    Love that you taught your students the robot, lol.

  5. And they can robot-up a storm now. I got a few of them doing baby freezes too.

    And yes, high school here isn't too different than high school in the states. In fact, because I schooled at a somewhat "rural" high school, very little surprises me about the school or city as a whole.

    The cliques are still there, you have advanced and regular classes and kids hang out after school.

    One thing does surprise me though: kids can come into the teacher's room/office here. In fact, they clean it every day. During the 12 years I schooled in the US public system, not once did I set a foot inside the teacher's lounge. I still have no idea what they look like.

  6. I could not but be very proud of what I read here. Keep the work. I am particularly happy that you are enjoying yourself. Great start.

  7. Great start. Love what I read. Happy you are enjoying yourself.