18 1月 2015

ALT: Jr. High School Substitutes, Schedules, and Training

Let's continue from the previous post where I talked about the example teachers that I've been paired up with. Before I mentioned some English teachers, all from the Sakahogi Jr. High School. Let's talk about the last one now.

     >>>EXAMPLE 3: <<<
     This guy just started after the winter break (after New Years).

     Did I tell you I didn't get christmas vacation?!?!?


     That was a load of bullshit.

     So this new guy whom I'm not even going to bother remembering his name, is yet another sub for the main teacher who's still sick at the moment. He's a juku teacher, and he even said himself that he's not enthusiastic about teaching English. In front of the students. In class. I'm like. . . . wao. YOUUUU have some serious issues there. After the last old man that was here, I'm not even going to bother caring about you in any way. My hope is just utterly gone.

     But because of his juku background (for those of you who don't know what juku is, it's an after-school program aimed at kids to guess. . . . study more. It's not because they're slow. It's because the main schools don't provide the necessary education), he does have a good flow of the class and doesn't need a paper to remind him what he has to do. He pays attention to the energy of the class, and does 'amusing' stories for the kids to keep them interested.
     And he uses his MacBook Pro (mini) to conduct his lessons via powerpoints, and overdoing it on the special effects. While he does do power-points, he's not really knowledgeable on how to do them.

     For example:

  1. you never put more than 1 or 2 points in one slide.
  2. don't over-do the special effects because it will waste time when you have to go back and forth between slides
  3. use font that isn't too small. you want everyone to see it (especially if you want them to write down and copy that information)
  4. don't write down your whole speech. aka, don't be reading from the screen/projector all the time. you want to be looking at your audience most of the time.

    if it's a quote, or in this case a passage from the book that you're not required to memorize, by all means read it. but because the school gives him a book, he should be looking from the book also.
  5. have titles and sub-titles like "let's write notes" so the kids know when to start writing.

    in middle school, kids won't write anything down if you don't write it on the board. you have to tell them "write this down".

    *I'm not sure how it is in Japan, but this isn't a problem for 8th nor 9th graders in U.S. And it becomes second nature to write your own notes once you're in high school and a necessity in college/university.
     At least the guy makes handouts for the kids, although he forgot to do these the first two weeks of his subbing work. Another good point is that he knows how to order his lesson, hence why he doesn't need a written-out note. But at the same time he doesn't time his lessons very well. They're timed to be a little longer (something standard for a juku class).

     While he does have some good points, I generally don't like him mostly because he's still sloppy and not friendly at all. At least to me. He'll talk to the Japanese teachers, but he won't talk to me. The only time I actually talked to him was when he was explaining to me what he wanted me to do during his lesson. I realized this first conversation is a great way to know what level English they're at. And this guy could barely talk. He even switched to Japanese at one point.
But because of my experience with the previous old man, I decided for myself to give them a hard time for the first conversation. In other words, only talk in English to them because it IS their job of course.

     Outside of that, I've only heard him say thank you to me (in Japanese) maybe twice? or three times? He's like the anti-social juku teacher. So since that's what he wants, that's what I'll give him. I'll just give him the cold shoulder and not pay much attention to him. 

     It did bother me the first 2 days I was around him in the Jr. High, but not so much anymore. I guess in Japan, I just care about the things people here don't care about. And then I don't care or think it's unprofessional about the things they care about. But whatever.

     This guy is going to be here for the concluding 3 months. School year ends in March. For this location, my last day is on March 28th.

>>> Daily/Monthly Schedule <<<

     Another point I forgot to tell you was about my schedule. On certain mondays of the month, I go to the Sakahogi Kindergarten (坂祝幼稚園) and teach about 4 lessons: 2 for the older students and those are about 30 - 40 minutes long, and 2 for the younger students and those are 10 - 15 minutes long. I do the same for all ages, except do less activities for the younger kids simply because there's no time for it. It keeps my notes very organized and I don't have to double prepare.

     Maybe I'll go to the kindergarten about 2 or 3 times a month.

     Then after kindergarten (the days that I am there I eat lunch and then leave), I go to the elementary school in the same town. All the schools are in the same town. There are no lessons in elementary on the days when I have been in the kindergarten, so I just chill in my desk usually preparing for future lessons. I have to talk with the teachers about what I will do in the lessons, and I like this part because I don't have to waste time during class explaining it to them. Usually the second grade teachers are the most helpful (especially this one guy because he gives me advice on what may work better for certain details, and gives me advice afterwards. not very helpful with discipline during class, but helpful during our meetings and after class).

     Then I may have elementary on tuesdays also (sometimes even wednesdays). The rest of the days
 are dedicated to me standing in classes in the Jr. High. During my free time there, I usually study Japanese or organize my expenses, make calls to the company if I need to. Other times I'll visit the students classes (especially the art class just cuz I like art).

     I always eat lunch with the students except for one week in the month when I eat with the teachers or by myself (if it's in the elementary school), because they eat like rabbits and my stomach needs a break from hurting it all the time from trying to eat within the time limit they give me. About 30 minutes. The other 30 minutes are dedicated to recess if it's the elementary, or cleaning and other duties or hanging out if it's the jr. high. During this time I'm either in the teachers room doing something, or in the lunch ladies room eating the rest of my food (or snacks that I bring).

     I don't really like the school lunches here, and I realized that the rice was making me bloated. For me, if rice isn't mixed with something else, there really is no purpose in eating it. 

>> Diet <<

     My diet has changed 180 degrees, to the point where it gave me some serious problems in the beginning. Even now I don't eat the usual staples that I used to eat (rice, beans, meat) simply because they don't offer it, and I don't have the kitchen space nor the time. My body has gotten a lot weaker because I don't exercise also. By the time I found out a neat trail for running and jogging, it got too cold.
     And I used to almost always eat some sort of meat everyday, but because here's its basically non-existent, unless I go to an izakaya full of smokers that taint my beautiful meat, I don't have the opportunity to eat meat. So those pretty low iron levels that I used to have got even lower. I can tell because I feel weak and I get tired more easily, I'm more dizzy than usual and I have to move slowly so I don't get that thing where you get static TV vision,

     (when you stand up or sit down or bend down quickly, your eye vision kinda dissipates into this thing that looks like when old TVs went out and just had this static screen with a bunch of dots and looked kinda gray <---- call="" div="" i="" is="" nbsp="" static="" tv="" vision="" what="">

I have headaches (I almost never get headaches), I'm more short on breath and my recent periods since I've gotten here are heavy to the point where I just have no energy those days. I literally have to sit down or lay down, because I can't concentrate on anything. And more recently my hands and feet are colder than usual but that's because they don't know what central heating/cooling is.

     The first few days I was here, I was ok. It wasn't until I was in training that I really noticed it.

>>> Training <<<

     I had training in Kanayama or something like that. It's the stop before Nagoya station. It was an urban place. I would say kind of like Chicago but smaller in diameter. And I stayed in a small little hotel with my one suitcase and bag. My other suitcase was at the companys headquarters. From there I walked to a room that was being rented by the company to hold the training meetings. It was about a 10 minute walk. 

     I liked it. There were restaurants, bookstores, clothes stores, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme (to name a few), and bright lights. It's my type of place. Enough people to fill in a McDonalds and constantly be busy. I learned then that people stay in places like McDonalds or other fast-food places and cafes to study or work. But you always buy something. Even if it's just a drink.
     And I liked it so much that when I visited the area that I was to stay in, because I needed to register with the town hall and make my insurance card and bank account and try to get a cellphone, I was glad to go back to Nagoya and away from my location. I didn't think to much of it at the time because I was more focused in enjoying my time in Kanayama. (I hope I'm saying that right. . .)

     We did things like how to do warm-ups and generally the level of English you will need when you get into the class. We signed papers, and talked about how the expenses work. At that point that's
when I started getting stomach aches, and just puked everything that I had eaten that day. It was curry. The next day I had a super high fever, and puked again, even though I barely ate anything, and had to excuse myself from the company for the rest of the day and stay in bed. After that all I had was water and more water 'cuz I was too afraid to eat anything solid. I barely had anything in my body and I was still puking. 

     Some people called it stress. But I wasn't stressed at all. I was happy, and I felt prepared after taking my TEFL course. That shit was intense but well worth-it. I had many sleep-deprived nights and had to stay with a classmate because my house was way too far and it would have been impossible to have done all that work and ride the train 2 hours a day. So I wasn't stressed.
     Compared to DePaul and TEFL, this was the easiest 'training' I have ever been a part of.

     But let me say this.

     During training, it was so hectic. They planned out everything to the minute, but didn't leave room for errors. They planned it as if everything was going to be ok. But sometimes, like my case, I had no fucking idea what the hell was a CIS or IS or ICS number for my bank account so I couldn't make a bank account. Then the cellphone places wouldn't let me sign a contract because my visa is only a year long. And I couldn't sign up for the extra insurance because the lady at the town hall was too much of a bitch.
     My 'helper/assistant' kept prizing how she did well in high school, but she didn't have the skills to get these things done. She was better of staying in the retirement house where she worked. She truly let me down, and the company let me down from their poor planning. You need to make plans and leave space for time. Like getting lost in train stations, or when things don't go the way you plan. Because it gives everyone a headache, when you have to replan and you're still just fresh of the boat trying to figure out this new world you put yourself in.

     Don't get me wrong. They are nice. But during business, I don't care about being nice as much as getting things done. You can do it in a nice way as long as it gets done. And properly. Not rushing. 

     They did give me a book on teaching, and teaching theories. Aka, a simplified version of the TEFL course book I have but nonetheless more specific towards Japanese students and ALT's jobs. And they also provide this online training course thing, but I have just 3 months left and I still haven't done it.

     During this time, they'll also tell you more about your location and give you the textbooks you'll need as well as a map of your area. When you visit your location, they will show you how to drive to your schools. My location is a driving one, so they showed me that. Although it makes no difference
to me because I don't remember how to get somewhere from just being in the car once.

     I am sooooo directionally challenged. I need to start at the same starting point all the time. If you start somewhere else, I'm gonna be lost. So it made no difference to me because I couldn't take notes no landmarks, etc. So I basically just had to learn on my own once I was there using google maps on my phone, for about 3 to 4 weeks.

     Anyway, I did meet some cool peeps at training. Haven't kept in contact though. I don't keep in contact with people who don't make an effort.
     They are helpful in ways during training, but I think they just need to plan it with more time. Otherwise, it was important to see how I had to adjust my English during lessons.

     I ended up not using much of what they showed me simply because my location doesn't ask that of me. (Human recorder location) But I did take some notes down, so I can always look back at it.

Alright so that's all for now about training. Remember the whole lesson in this is,



If you have any more questions, leave comments below and your question can be featured in the next post.


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