I’m going to hold off on what was supposed to be the next episode blog post, but I remembered that I forgot to mention some things that might be of interest to those who intend on doing JET or just want to know about the Japanese school system.

The school year here begins in April.  It’s common to switch some of the teachers around at the beginning of the new school year.  Before leaving for the States, I knew that at least 5 teachers were slated to be moved to another school, or just plain let go in the case of part-time teachers.  I also knew that we would have more teachers because we would be adding one kumi (homeroom).  But boy, was I shocked when I got back! Two of those slated to be transferred were called back, and a slew of other teachers that I didn’t know where going to get transferred were gone.

I walked into the shokuinshitsu and saw a different man sitting at the kyoutou-sensei’s (vice principal) desk. Our previous kyoutou spoke very good English and was pretty interesting, so despite his occasional over-the-top “I’m the MAN” attitude, I liked having the guy for a kyoutou.  I was a bit disappointed to see that he’d been transferred.  But, the new kyoutou is a nice guy, so while he doesn’t have the same strong personality it’s good, and perhaps…for the better? Don’t know yet.

Another major change was the ALT supervisor.  I’d already been told that the ALT Supervisor position usually goes to a teacher new to the school, but I was hoping that we’d get to keep our supervisor anyway. ^_^; The new supervisor is a really nice lady, only she takes the task way more seriously than it needs to be taken. ^o^ I think it’s because she comes from a high academic level school that only had one ALT.  The dynamics are a little different at a low level school, plus, there’s two ALTs.

One of the teachers who the other teachers deemed “not Japanese enough” was moved.  He was quite a character! He had self-published a novel, and always gave the ALTs a copy of it. He had pretty exaggerated gestures.  His written English was pretty good, but his spoken English was a little strange, so sometimes he’d end up telling the students the wrong thing.  ^_^; But still, I was sad to know he’d been moved.

Another interesting feature of this shuffle is that teachers “rotate” so that they’re always with the same year of students, meaning, the teachers “advance” with the students.  So, those who taught first year students are now teaching the second years (meaning, the same kids).  But, since the bulk of our teaching is to first years, this year we’re team-teaching, with one exception, with different teachers.  The exception is the teacher who teaches debate; because she teaches both 1st and 2nd years that class, even though she is now a 2nd year teacher we still work with her.  (Thankfully, it seems she’s opened up to the idea of having the kids do debate in Japanese before attempting it in English. *Relief*)

While I can’t be sure of this yet, perhaps the biggest change is that the level of the kids seems to be higher! Perhaps I can’t really make the comparison because I never saw last year’s kids when they were fresh out of middle school.  It could just be that the new bunch hasn’t reached the Rebellion Phase yet, or maybe, they haven’t realized yet that there are no real penalties for not doing what they’re supposed to do. ^_^;; Oh, how I wish I were joking…even the football players in an American school have to keep up at least a pretense of academic diligence or get kicked off the team but…here you can fail all you want and still participate in clubs! >_<  What’s the cardinal rule of disciplining kids? When they misbehave, take away what they care about most.  What do these kids care about?  Clubs! *sigh* I’m trying to figure out the thought process.  Is it that because high school isn’t free that the faculty believes that clubs are a right rather than a privilege?  Is it because they think our kids will never amount to any real academic success that they figure the kids can at least enjoy non-academic pursuits? My co-ALT tells me that the answer he’s gotten to this question is “You just can’t do that.”  The answer to “why not?” is “you just can’t.”

Wooo, that was a bit of a tangent. ^o^ But I’ve got more of those than a geometry textbook.

My, what a dreadful joke.