My first day as Katie-sensei

August 22, 2011

Hopefully your pencils are sharpened and your indoor shoes snug. Why—because today was the first day of school after the Japanese summer holiday. Although schools in Japan officially began in April, classes were resumed this morning.

After trekking up a massive cliff (my school is on top of Mt. Fuji—not really though—sorry to confuse you), I arrived and entered the English office.

Outside of Fukuyama-shi, my senior high school overlooks a smaller town with rice paddies galore. Here is the lovely view from the English teachers' office.

Somewhere in between the English office chatter and the daily staff meeting (naturally, conducted in Japanese), I discovered that I would be giving a welcome speech to the entire school—all 700 students and 40 plus faculty members. Because I was at language camp last week, I failed to receive the memo about the speech thing. Whoops.

Luckily, I had some key Japanese phrases fresh on the brain. In addition to my self-introduction in Japanese, I spoke to the students about the importance of studying various cultures, encouraged them to travel abroad and hopefully, inspired them to do their very best in English class. Also, I was ridiculously smiley—which tends to be received quite well over here—even if comprehension is minimal.

After the opening ceremony, I preceded to teach my first class ever. Just months ago I was sitting at a desk. Today, my role completely reversed. I officially became Ms. Katie, or in Japanese, Katie-sensei.

Surprisingly, there were only a few awkward silences, more than a few laughs and some wholesome learning thrown into the act (I think). For my first time in front of a classroom, I must say that I was quite satisfied. With the assistance and guidance of my more-experienced Japanese teachers of English (JTEs), I am confident that, as the school year continues, my lessons will improve. Here are the visuals I used along with an interactive game (not to mention some good ol’ American competition) to introduce myself:

My first day as an official Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) was hectic, but promising. The students and faculty members were all friendly and enthusiastic. Although I am sure there are many challenges ahead, I am confident that it will be quite an enjoyable climb.

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