木曜日, 4月 14, 2005

First Day of School

    Today was my first day of teaching the new first-years. Ah, I am so blessed to have such great students. I hear other ALTs complain about "bad kids" and "behavior problems", but I never have to deal with anything like that. The JET program's main flaw is that most ALTs are underutilized. I just spent 6 weeks without teaching at all, and where is the sense in that? But when I have the chance to teach, everything is good. My memories in the classroom are all happy ones.
    Usually the class is split in half, but today we had the whole class. First we three teachers introduced ourselves. One of the JTEs likes to put these outrageous statements in her self-introduction. I don't know why she puts down her own English ability in front of the students. She wants them to respect her, doesn't she? Then she told them she likes to go to a tavern (izakaya) and drink shochu (sweet-potato wine). I'm not sure why she thinks this is a good thing to say to a group of 15-year-olds she's meeting for the first time. What kind of first impression is she trying to cultivate? If a high school teacher of mine told me she liked to drink, my opinion of her would surely change for the worse. But whatever they were thinking, the students listened respectfully like angels until we were done.
    In the first term I like to do some TPR in every class. So today I used some commands like jump, clap, step, stomp, turn around, raise your right hand, etc. Then I make it more complicated like "jump on your right foot while turning in a circle with your left hand on your head," or something silly like that. I also tried "Smile!", and noticed that most of them were already smiling. Then I said "Frown!" and they tried to look all serious. It was the cutest thing.
    We also did a short activity which I found in the JET lesson plan booklet we got recently. Most of the sample lessons were not so usable because the theme this year was grammar. However, there was one that I thought was really cute. There's a picture of a crying baby, a ringing telephone, a knock at the door, water running in the sink, and clothes on a clothesline outside while it starts to rain. You have to imagine that all of these things are happening at the same time, and decide what to do first. Your answer tells what kind of person you are, that is, what is most important to you in life. So we had the students do that (writing their answer and a reason) and then we told them the meaning (the baby means family, the clothes means love live, the tap means money, the door means friends, and the phone means career). It takes longer to explain than to do. We still had time left at the end of class, so we had them all stand up and face their partner in the next row and introduce themseleves in English, and have a simple conversation. Most of them were pretty genki about this. I think it was a good start to the year.