Many people have been asking me about school and how my first week went. It was pretty exhausting, I'll tell you! I had to give my self-introduction to eleven middle school classes, so that alone wore me out a bit. At the elementary schools, I have only two sections of sixth grade per school, so my shorter self-intro was a welcome change from the longer one I did at the middle schools. To give a first impression, I loved the 6th graders right away. They were super fun and genki (a special word here that means plenty of things, one of which is enthusiastic and gung-ho). At the middle school, I did get at least a few kids per class that were genki, but like middle schoolers the world over, many were a little hesitant to participate or raise their hands! I did give them the reverse of the little survey many of you took on this blog about what Americans think of Japanese people, so the results of that will be coming soon. I also got to show them what you all said about Japanese people, schools, food, and culture, and they definitely liked that. :) Thanks again to all who participated in the survey.
I also hit the ground running with events; I have to help out with an English spelling contest and an English speech contest later in September, and practices started this week. The spelling kids are fabulous; one group stayed late just to go over pronunciation and improve their accents. I will begin working with the student going to the speech contest next week.
The English teachers have been really great to work with, providing advice and insight where needed and helping translate so the students can understand my presentation and what was on the survey. We all meet once a week to plan upcoming lessons, and it's nice to see the teamwork that goes into making sure each lesson not only "covers the material" but is comprehensible for the kids and reviews past lessons. They've responded well to my ideas, such as using video to enhance the kids' reading segments.
Last night we had our first enkai, a party at a restaurant with food and drinks. Speechmaking is a huge tradition, and no party is complete without several speeches. All the new student teachers had to make speeches, so that meant I did, too! Good times. The food was great, too. :) I couldn't stay too long because we sat at a Japanese-style table, meaning you sit on the floor with your legs under the table. That's not a big winner for someone with a bad back.
In other news, here are just a few more photos since our last photo post-a-thon. Check them out! I really wish Flickr put the most recent at the top of the list, but for some reason they're going from oldest to newest. Just scroll down to see the new ones.
And don't forget to see what Giga-san's been up to.