Unlike schools back at home where students go from classroom to classroom, the students in Japan usually stay in the same classroom and the teacher goes to a specific class every period. Mito Senior High School is not the average Japanese high school because it has an English track. Students in the English track are designated by the letter “E.” So in Mito SHS, there is 1-E, 2-E, and 3-E, where the number designates the grade level. For the rest of the students who are not in the English track, they are on a general track. The classes would be labeled by two numbers with the first designating the grade level and the second number representing the class e.g. 1-1, 1-2, 2-1. This means that students have most, if not all, of their classes with the same group of peers for the academic year compared to schools in America where students may have one class with someone in particular or maybe even as much as all classes with a particular person.
I team teach once a week in 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4, 2-E, and 3-E. I also team teach twice a week in 1-E. Other than that, I help with checking written work for some English teachers with whom I am not officially assigned to team teach. Lately, I was also asked by a teacher to help with 3-E’s computer class. This may seem a lot to some people, but I think it’s great because I am lucky to be in the position of actually doing work instead of some JET participants who complain about just sitting around the school twiddling their thumbs. Of course, some AETs enjoy this, but I am not one of those people. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am also very lucky to be in one school, so I will be able to really have a deep impact (at least I hope) as well as have a deeper relationship with the teachers and students.
This week has been filled with giving a self-introduction in my classes. There are two purposes of introducing myself despite having already given a short introduction in the opening ceremony. The first is to evaluate the atmosphere of each class. The second purpose is for the students to know more about me. I had to prepare two different ways to deliver my self-intro. For all the second year, 1-E, and 3-E classes, I prepared a powerpoint. For the first year general track classes, I had to prepare something to utilize the classroom aids as the teacher didn’t want to use the audio-visual (AV) room. The powerpoint activity consisted of grouping the students into teams of five. I used playing cards to achieve this by taking out numbers 2 through 6 from two decks of different sized playing cards. As a student walked into the AV room, the student drew any card and had to sit with other students who had the same suit and the same sized card. The powerpoint consisted of fifteen questions about me. After every question, I gave a hint towards the answer. For example, the first question went as follows:
“My name is Justin Moy, but that is not my full name. I have a middle name. What is my full name? This is the king (as I show the king of diamonds). This is the queen (as I show the queen of diamonds). Who is this (as I show the jack of diamonds)?”
For those of you who know me, of course you know that the answer is “Prince.” Only one team out of all the classes where I used the powerpoint actually guessed correctly. For the classes like many of the second year general track students, they were a bit confused at first, but I think the first question really helped to set a very positive mood. After a bit of time to talk in their groups and write down an answer, I called on a number (I didn’t call in order) to stand up and say their group’s answer. I usually only got through about half of the questions. The first class that I used the powerpoint was the test class. I wasn’t fully keeping track of the time, so I ended up getting interrupted by the bell at question eight. After that, I was able to properly time the activity, so the team who won got a chance to select a prize. I changed the speed of the answering and chose which questions to ask depending on the class.
My other self-intro was more conventional where I talked about myself for about fifteen minutes followed by the students filling in a handout about themselves for fifteen minutes. As the students fill in the handout, I pass around the same playing cards that I used for my powerpoint activity. The remaining fifteen minutes was devoted to a short quiz. I called on a number to stand up. I proceeded to ask a question about me and the student who answered correctly first got to sit down. The rest of the students were subjected to me asking questions about themselves. This went rather well, but the students who experienced my powerpoint intro seemed to have a more enjoyable time.
The first time I did this other self-intro was a disaster because the plan I just explained wasn’t completely formulated yet. I was hoping to group the students with the playing cards, but it would have taken too much time because for these students, I went to their classroom compared to the powerpoint where the students came to the AV room. The self-intro basically became an improv as I was trying to figure out a way to also get the students to participate. One of the questions on the handout is “What is your favorite English word?” I wanted the students to tell me their answers, and so I had a row stand up. Then the students had to raise their hand to tell me the answer. When there was one student left standing, that student’s column must stand. The activity continued in a crisscross pattern until all students have participated. This activity is aptly named “crisscross.” This didn’t go very well as it embarrasses students who may not be able to think of a word quick enough, which is why I actually don’t like the crisscross activity. I just decided to do it on the whim because it was the first thing that popped into my head at the time.
I definitely got two things out of this week; I know the dynamics of each class, and I have gotten very valuable experience that will be of great help with future lessons toward effective teaching of English. Lastly, today is my little sister’s 11th birthday. Happy Birthday, Hannah!
Stay tuned next week for another update!
今週の写真: 名古屋 (Nagoya)