For the first time that I know of, our board of education scheduled about 10 days for each Takamatsu JET to have a visiting spot at nearby schools. Now, last year I had the opportunity to teach at another school too, but that was just because I had transportation and they needed a teacher. This was a choreographed exchange with hopes that it would be of benefit to the students to see fresh faces with a different cultural background. I certainly welcomed the shift too because while not quite a vacation, it is indeed a remarkable chance to reattain my deity status. I visited the middle and elementary schools in Konan, just a few minute drive to the north of me.
When I arrived on Monday morning, the teachers were all pretty forward and happy to try out their English introductions. Because this school had about twice as many students as mine, there were also several more teachers than I am used to working with. The first week was exclusively me delivering my self introduction, crafted and honed to perfection after almost two years on the job. The first class the I had to present to was definitely the worst, due to that teacher having no control over the behavior of the students. Her empty threats were well known as such so the kids just talked through a lot of what I had to say. This was a bit discouraging, but I soon realized it was only in her failed state of a classroom that I would encounter this resistance to learning about what makes me so great. The other 10 or so times all went wonderfully, and the other classes actually engaged themselves by asking questions about my fascinating life..
When I went to the elementary school, I taught only grades 5 and 6 versus all the students at my schools. One thing that I did noticed was how these teachers basically created and ran the lesson with myself as the assistant. This was the opposite of my arrangement in Shionoe and it was nice to have a more supportive team teacher. My teachers are always happy to help if I am floundering, but those moments could be avoided completely with just a little more spontaneous input from them. One of the highlights was the English Club. As a larger school a wider English club and a variety of others are offered to the students. I enjoyed this because all the students were excited to participate, and with no curriculum I had full freedom to insert any number of games. Each student also had some cheesy nickname that they addressed their peers by; I was known as Bus.
In all I spent eight days between the two schools and it was a great opportunity. I generally enjoyed my time and was happy to have further diversified my teaching experiences at different types of schools. Every class always had students acting up, sleeping, and making life tough for the teacher. While Konan was only twice the size of my school, I can say with confidence that my students’ behavior is significantly better and their kindhearted nature vast – a sentiment shared by the teacher covering for me. I will always look forward to opportunities to see and experience a new teaching environment, but I can say with confidence that this small town bubble that I live in is quite a special place..