In the middle of class with 2nd graders while I was doing an animals lesson, one little girl stopped me to ask if I could read and write hiragana. I told her that I can but writing kanji is a little tricky. One boy suggested I draw 口 since it’s easy. It’s not 4 strokes, but 3 apparently. I basically had a class of 22 7 year olds yelling at the top of their lungs, waving their fingers around trying to teach me the right way. I tried to tie it into I’m teaching them English, they teach me Japanese but I was loudly corrected by 2nd graders. Embarrassing but we laugh about it. 

Still…

krokoart:

Ken RokoSeaside 02: Giclee Fine Art Print 13X19Please Check out more images from Etsy.com:https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/krokoart?section_id=12480058


One more week

krokoart:

Ken Roko
Seaside 02: Giclee Fine Art Print 13X19

Please Check out more images from Etsy.com:
https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/krokoart?section_id=12480058

One more week

I had another first day back at my last elementary school and I think it went alright. New teachers means getting used to one another and while it was awkward at first, we worked it out in the end. At this school, there is a Japanese assistant who speaks English to help me when there are issues with understanding the rules or to demonstrate the lesson. I did a lot of competition games and thankfully no one cried so all in all, a smooth day. I’ve had kids cry a few times in my classes, except for 6th grade. They’re still learning about dealing with losing and I get that but when I see a little kid’s face scrunch up, turn red and cry, it’s the worst. Having an assistant means there is someone to console the student while I carry on the lesson. The times where I’ve been on my own, having to continue and then try and cheer the student up at the same time never works out. In the beginning I’d slip them a sticker because I didn’t know what else to do. I’ve had homeroom teachers step in and let the kids cry it out, and they do and eventually join back in the game. I’ve since learned to just let them alone and keep going but I still get thrown off guard. I haven’t been in a class of elementary school kids since I was their age so understanding how to deal with them when they act up or cry feels so new to me. I don’t want to baby them but I also don’t want them to hate English or hate me. I can’t make every kid like me or enjoy my lessons but when they get upset in class, I feel awful. The worst time was when I tried to be playful with a class of 4th graders during a board slap game. I called the name of a vocab word that wasn’t on the board so they started to run and realized it wasn’t there. They laughed and it was a funny moment. Trying it with another class of 4th graders, one little boy burst into hysterics and screamed at me not to lie to him. According to the teachers that was unusual and not to worry about him. Still, when you try different games or use different jokes or word play to keep things fun and moving and then a child makes a mistake or gets tripped up causing them to start crying, it’s the worst. I try to avoid this by explaining the rules a few times to make sure everyone knows how things work and keep things light by laughing and giving kids multiple tries. 

Today though no tears so I’m relieved. The only downside I guess was when I was invited to play dodgeball with the 5th graders in the gym during recess. I haven’t played dodgeball in a while and I was terrible at it when I was their age (I used to grab a book and hide when we had gym outside. I gave myself chances but I’m really just awful). Today though, I caught the ball, threw it at the other team and took out a boy with a shot to the neck. He was alright thankfully since it’s a soft ball and while the other kids on my team cheered, I ran across the court to apologize. He stood up, our eyes locked, and I knew it was on. For the rest of the time, he aimed for me any chance he got. I know when I make kids cry when they get my questions wrong, they eventually get over it. I hope this boy forgives me. 

I guess no one wanted this batch of hakusai cabbage. I see that a lot walking near farms. Not sure why no one takes them and if they’re just left there to rot/birds peck away at them. 
The cherry blossoms around town though looks great. They’re in full bloom practically everywhere

I guess no one wanted this batch of hakusai cabbage. I see that a lot walking near farms. Not sure why no one takes them and if they’re just left there to rot/birds peck away at them. 

The cherry blossoms around town though looks great. They’re in full bloom practically everywhere

Don’t Stop Talking to Me (St. Lucia Remix) - Foster the People

ookawauoten:

今朝の四倉海岸です。
見た目よりも良い波でした。

The coast of Iwaki

ookawauoten:

今朝の四倉海岸です。
見た目よりも良い波でした。

The coast of Iwaki

koriniko:

"I just have a burning desire for English!" That’s not what it says, but this poster is a little dramatic for an English test… #eiken

koriniko:

"I just have a burning desire for English!"
That’s not what it says, but this poster is a little dramatic for an English test… #eiken

Definitely want to check this out when I go back to New York this month

Things to do when I’m back in New York

10 days isn’t enough, especially when I factor in how long it’ll take to get over jet lag. I’ve decided to take the bullet train to Tokyo rather than taking the bus to Narita because I’d rather not kill 5 hours in the major city in my prefecture before hopping on the 2:30am bus, getting to Narita around 7 am and then waiting until the late afternoon for my flight. The bullet train is more expensive but if I’m going to spend 14 hours crammed in economy seating, the less hassle the better. 

With two weekends at home, I’m hoping there’s a lot I can get done and see. Living in the inaka has been great but I’m lacking the kind of diversity and liveliness that comes with being in a big city. Walking at my normal pace makes me look weird when everyone else is going so slowly. I can’t take it sometimes with mullets and leopard print jerseys. I miss New York. 

I don’t want to go crazy trying to cram everything in but some things I definitely plan on doing

1. eating homemade chicken noodle soup

2. The Brooklyn Flea because I miss browsing for clothing that fits my body properly

3. The Hester Street Fair because I want to go to a street fair or a block party and see more than endless stalls of breaded octopus 

4. Museum of Chinese in America because I want to check out this exhibit http://www.mocanyc.org/exhibitions/oil_and_water_reinterpreting_ink and then get some beef noodles and bubble tea 

5. Farmer’s markets to get ingredients for baking gluten-free scones and muffins in an oven, not a microwave

6. Watch the next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Monday night instead of waiting a few days

7. More baking and cooking

8. walk my dog

9. Disconnect from anything Japan or Japanese related. I’m happy here but I need a break. 

Getting up out of my seat and feeling my lower back crack as I stand up. A typical day at my BOE, sitting at my desk for hours. 

Just one of many things on my to-do list when I go back to New York next week

A new school year means new staff members and sometimes big changes in the previous schedule. I teach at a few different elementary schools and whether I’m the main teacher or the assistant depends on the school and on the grade. It took me 9 months to get used to one way and the next couple of weeks will be spent getting used to another. At one school I’d be the main teacher for only 5th grade and not 6th, at another I’d do both by myself, and then at another I’d help out as a human tape recorder and that was about it. Yesterday was my first day back to one school where I had been the main teacher for both 5th grade classes and the assistant for the 6th graders. The school affairs teacher wasn’t sure what role I’d play this year so I had to ask the teachers individually after we introduced ourselves. The conversation naturally came to “so…(sucking air through teeth sound) what are we doing today” and luckily thanks to having started Hi Friends at another school, I was prepared for it. The 5th grade teachers seemed relieved that I had something planned and when I got to 6th grade, I was expected to teach on my own as well, being told “that’s probably for the best”. Thankfully, it went well and for the first time, I kind of feel like I’m getting the hang of things. Being an assistant language teacher that teaches alone seemed really weird to me but that’s how things are done in my town and I’m still figuring out how to deal with it. I always wonder if some of the elementary school teachers resent being told to teach English on top of every other subject. It’s like asking me to teach Italian based on the little I remember from high school and no formal training. It’s not impossible but it’s in the ball park. 

When I first came on JET, the “so, what are we doing today” question made my stomach drop and I’d have this internal panic. I didn’t even know how to properly schedule a lesson let alone teach on my own to young kids who can be adorable and then later be as nasty as kids were when you were a kid (all in a different language that you do not fully understand.) 9 months of teaching later and, while I still get nervous when I see kids not paying attention or mimicking, it’s easier than it was. I let it go, keep going according to my lesson plan, and usually doing some weird voice during choral repetition brings the focus back. It’s gotten easier and I’m hoping it continues that way. Ever since I had what was arguably my worst day on the job back in October at one of the schools where I’m expected to teach all grades based on my own lessons, I’ve slowly started to learn how to deal with things changing unexpectedly and being thrown off. Still getting used to how things work, I basically showed up without much of a plan and with only about a month in the classroom, I didn’t know how to stretch a textbook activity into something useful. After a disaster of a class where the kids didn’t speak up at all and the teacher essentially had to take over, I got to enjoy being talked about by the teachers in front of me without consulting me about where to go from there. It was decided I’d be T2 since I clearly didn’t know what I was doing. On top of that, I had no time to prepare for one class and wasn’t allowed to use any of the working computers to print. I asked to use my lunch hour to work (like I’ve been able to in other offices) but the office lady wouldn’t excuse me until everyone in the teacher’s room had finished lunch. Meanwhile, having not prepared a real lunch other than some thrown together soup, I sat nervous, hungry, and tired for 15 minutes while everyone enjoyed their lunch. I walked into the next class so under-prepared and embarrassed. Afterwards, I went to the bathroom and cried. My supervisor drove me home and I cried some more. I took off the next day to sleep, pull myself together and realize I was going about this entirely wrong. The problem with not having an education background means no experience with lesson planning, no backup games to pull when you don’t have anything concrete planned, and I spent my first couple months here fumbling awkwardly through nearly every class. I felt the need to try and reinvent the wheel pretty much and went overboard doing something different for each lesson at each school. I learned the hard way that a couple games of bingo goes a long way and requires no preparation.  

Things I’ve done since then that have helped me level out and made things go much, much smoother in the classroom

1. have a set of backup games in class lessons finish up sooner than expected. Nothing worse than realizing you have 10 minutes left, nothing to do, and 17-25 kids just staring at you expectantly.

2. crafts. With grades 1-3, I sometimes introduce arts and crafts that coincide with the lessons because it gives the kids who aren’t really verbal a chance to do something creative. It also quiets a rowdy class down and it kills about 10 minutes which is great when you have a class of 7 year olds who can’t stay focused for very long. I’ve also learned not to put young kids on the spot to showcase what they make. Instead, they share with their lunch groups or I use the projector and have the kids yell out colors, fruits, vegetables, etc that their classmate used. 

3. futon tataki. For any new JETs coming in this summer assigned to elementary schools, this game will be a life saver. Go to Daiso, pick up fly swatters or futon tataki rods and after introducing vocab, hand it out to kids split up into two teams. As soon as they see me pull them out of my bag, the kids go crazy. It’s a fun game that reinforces vocab we just learned, gets them excited, and can be used for pretty much any lesson. 

4. I got a notebook to keep track of things I do with elementary school teachers who are T1 in class. They use a lot of different games that I’ve never done before so I take note during class and then figure out ways to use them again during the days I’m on my own at other schools. 

5. Mom blogs. I’ve gone through most ESL blogs but I’ve found that mom blogs run by women who home school their kids have been great for ideas, especially when I’m with kindergarteners or young ES kids.

6. Realizing that there is only so much I can do. I can’t make every kid like English, some just don’t care and I get it. The only thing I can do is introduce whatever lesson I have scheduled for the day so that for the kids who do like English, they get something out of it and for the kids that don’t, the 45 minutes we spent together isn’t boring and painful. 

Something I do want to try this year that will hopefully pay off for the kids who are off to middle school next year is more emphasis on phonics and a little bit of writing. My predecessor introduced phonics packets a couple years back and now that I feel more confident in the classroom, I want to expand on that and do more activities. Luckily the teachers have been on board for that this year. I’ve had teachers that sometimes forget to do phonics and so at the end of last year, some kids in one school were further along than others. Being the main teacher with 5th and 6th grade means I can make sure we cover the textbook and practice pronunciation because by God, if the kids I teach learn anything I hope it’s how to distinguish between m and n, b and v. 

I love the project this guy is working on. As JETs, we get to see a different Fukushima than the one portrayed in the media. I get a lot of aspiring JETs asking me about life here and the truth is that while I accepted my placement unsure about what I was getting myself into, I don’t regret coming here at all. I’ve been lucky in my placement and with my BOE and I’ve gotten to see a lot of the prefecture thanks to people in my town and others they’ve introduced me to. There’s a lot more to this prefecture than people realize. Before I came here, the only image I had of Fukushima was the destroyed coastline but hopefully this project will change people’s understanding of what life in Fukushima is really like. 

speep:

Hi guys, i want to promote this project a really awesome guy i met last year is trying to get funded. I’ve been living in Fukushima for the last eight months as an ALT for the JET program, and i’d love to see this film happen. (my town’s the badass one, with the fire festival. :D )

CLICK HERE TO VOTE/LEARN MORE

My friends and I went to the western version of Nanaya restaurant over the weekend after karaoke. The cakes were really good and it was the first time I’ve eaten raspberries since I’ve gotten here. I like that the menus in Japanese restaurants change depending on the season. The spring-themed food is really fresh and colorful

My friends and I went to the western version of Nanaya restaurant over the weekend after karaoke. The cakes were really good and it was the first time I’ve eaten raspberries since I’ve gotten here. I like that the menus in Japanese restaurants change depending on the season. The spring-themed food is really fresh and colorful

koinobori

koinobori