First Week of School: Elementary School, and Self-Intro Presentation

My desk at the elementary school. The Pikachu book is for me to practice kanji with!^^ On the top left, you can kind of see the teaching materials Emily left me!^^

I have had SO much fun at the elementary school so far! Even though it was a new environment to get used to (because I’ve been in the Board of Education office with eight other people a lot of the summer doing desk work), it didn’t take as much adjustment as it could have because I’ve already had the chance to meet up, eat, and talk with a couple of the teachers there before.Emily was friends with the teacher who sits on my left in the teachers’ room, and this teacher is really nice and talks to me a lot^^ I can always hear singing and music coming from the different classrooms, and the school environment is friendly and inviting. Another thing that made the transition into elementary school easier was that my first and second days there they had me going around to different classrooms and giving my self-introduction, which I gave in the form of a powerpoint, and tried to do a game of rock-paper-scissors (called janken in Japanese) afterword, with varying results.

I was giving this self-intro to 1st-6th graders, so obviously there’s a huge difference between every grade–and in addition to that, there are quiet classes and “rowdy” (I guess, but not exactly) classes. I had the easiest time with the lower-level classes, partly because I gave the presentation in a big room to all the 1st and 2nd graders at once. That means that everything takes longer–asking questions, quieting people down, and playing a huge game of Stephanie-vs.-students janken. Same thing with the 3rd and 4th graders. For the 5th and 6th grade classes, I’ve been going to each one individually. This is probably because my job at the elementary school is officially to teach the 5th and 6th grades. (At lunch, I eat lunch in the classroom with the students, starting with class 6-3, then 6-2, and working my way down to 1st grade.)

In addition, my supervisor at the BoE had helped me come up with ideas for the ppt and given me feedback on what the kids would like and what their reactions were likely to be, as well as being my audience for a couple of practice run-throughs. I also got to give my self-intro to the BoE office, which was a lot of fun. I’m not going to upload my whole presentation, but I’d like to show you some slides so you can get an idea of what it looked like.

One method of making the ppt more interesting was doing a remove-the-squares guessing game. This was also a method that was suggested at the JET orientation in Tokyo, but honestly we receive so much information at once that it’s hard to take it all in and know what to use, so I’m glad my supervisor suggested it.

Many of the students guessed that it was a Christmas tree pretty quickly, but I discovered that their figuring out what it was didn’t dampen the excitement of seeing the whole picture unveiled piece by piece, and so I learned to take my time even if I heard the right answer. Haha, I had fun showing pictures of my house and Grandma’s house. I always thought Grandma’s house had a bigger yard than usual and everything, but there are bigger houses and yards, you know? Like farm houses that you see in Sepastopol and stuff. But to Japanese elementary school students, my grandparents are like millionaires. I had fun showing them pictures of things like the inside of my fridge in SR, the crazy hills in San Francisco, and our Christmas pizzas.

This slide would go something like, “These are my brothers! Their names are Jeffrey and Joel. Jeff is a college student, and Joel is in high school.” They might comment on this, and then I would say, “What do you think is stuck to the walls?” Then wait for their responses. (I think this wait time is really important–letting them guess for a while, and not moving ahead right away, even if you hear the right answer.)
One guess I heard was keychains/key holders. Then I say, “This is chewing gum that people stuck to the walls after eating it.” Class: “Ehhhhhh??!!” Me: “Is it okay to do this in Japan? Take your chewing gum and stick it to the walls like this?” Class: “No!!!!” Me: “Actually, it’s bad in America, too. It’s just this wall.”

Some things I just threw in for fun. This was a quiz on which cat is mine. This slide sort of evolved over time. At first, it was just “Which one is mine?” with the answer. But one class was like, “I’ll bet it’s all of them!!” and after that, I started offering “all” as a possible answer, and the students really seemed to like that. My previous slides were about Christmas (at Grandma’s house) and summer (also at Grandma’s house), so by the time I got to this slide, I would tell them, “The third cat is my grandma’s,” and the kids would laugh and be like, “of course…”

The presentations for the elementary school have all been in Japanese, with a few English words thrown in for practice. (“Do you know what this is?” “It’s a suberi-dai/water slide.” “Right! In English, we call it a slide! Repeat after me: slide.”) These presentations have allowed me to meet most of the kids at the school, and when I got to the office they had the schedule written on the board with which classes I would be visiting and when. I really like all the teachers here, too!^^ I got to help K-sensei with the pronunciation of “We Will Rock You,” which she’s going to be singing with one of her classes, so right from the get-go I basically understood what I was supposed to be doing and was able to keep fairly busy. I’m looking forward to my elementary classes^^

One thought on “First Week of School: Elementary School, and Self-Intro Presentation

  1. You’re with the JET program as an ALT, right? Then do you teach your own class or do you help? and if you do teach your own class, do you write your lesson plan? how do you write your lesson plan? does it have to be approved or are you given guidelines and expected standards, so forth? oh and do you teach one class or several classes on alternate days?

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