I imagine some people think to themselves, "so what exactly do you do everyday?" Or I'm assuming people think that because that is what I often think about other jobs. Most of us can imagine what teachers do, since we were all students at some point and have spent many many hours within the walls of a school...but from my experience, teaching in Japan is quite different.
For starters, I teach English writing classes to Seniors (3rd year students) as well as communication classes to Juniors (2nd year students). In Japan, students have different classes every day so the periods are never the same (makes things much more complicated).
Example : One of the classes I teach is Upper level Writing. I teach the 3AB homeroom as well as the 3C homeroom. I meet with 3AB Mondays and Tuesdays during 2nd period...but I meet with 3C Tuesdays 5th period and then Fridays 3rd period. See how confusing that gets?? Throw in an assembly, holiday, or any student being absent because of sports and the whole schedule gets thrown off. But alas, I often remind myself that this is normal to them and all I know is the American school system... aka 1-6th period exactly the same Monday through Friday!
I teach most of my classes in these classrooms...aka the homerooms. Interestingly enough, every homeroom has a chalkboard and not a whiteboard so I had to learn how to write on a chalkboard again haha. I have come to a conclusion that Japanese characters (especially kanji) are much easier to write on chalkboards than English words are, so that is why Japanese people are perfectly content writing on chalkboards all day while Americans cringe at the sight (and sound) of them.
In my senior writing classes, I use a textbook for sample ideas but basically create my own lessons that spring off what the students learn in their other English class with a Japanese teacher. I have them write about a topic, I rough edit it for them, return it to them, they edit it themselves, and re-write everything in pen.
When I came to Ichikashi, the writing classes were taught a bit differently and I noticed the kids weren't able to catch their own mistakes, they were just moving on to the next lesson. I remember growing up having to write, and re-write, and re-write my assignments again and again and at the time I did not like it - but it made me a better writer. So now I make my kids do it because we teach the way we were taught right?!
This is a lesson we just did this week, where I asked the students a series of 5 questions (one at a time) about their experience hosting the Torrance students and had them write their responses. I always challenge them to write as much as they can. When they turn in their final responses I always get super happy (the small joys of teaching) and congratulate them on completing an entire entry in well-written English.
At the beginning of the semester I told the students they were lucky to be in my class because in my class there are NO TESTS and NO HOMEWORK. My rule is that they must turn in their notebook at the end of the class period...thus ensuring they don't "forget to do their hw" or loose their notebook, I don't have to keep an eye out for late work, and they have to focus in class to make sure they finish the assignment. Funny enough, there are still those few students who can't finish in class and then forget to tell me about it...and like this student, he turned his notebook in the next day with this tiny note written inside HAHAA!
Teaching is a funny job because you are responsible for passing on knowledge to a lot of people (all your students) while simultaneously continuing to learn and educate yourself along the way...throw in a different country/culture in there and every day is an adventure.
When I was in college, I took that one test...you know the strengthsfinder...and at the time I thought it was a bit silly but there is one word that has stuck with me all these years - DEVELOPER. I remember getting the results and seeing "your number one strength is developer" and thinking, "uhmm what the heck does that mean?" Then I scrolled down and read the definition that simply said... "you see the potential in other people." boom. That one sentence has helped me learn so much about myself, teaching, people, and work in general. Being able to see potential in your students has got to be the most important part of teaching and the reason why I love what I get to do everyday. All thanks be to the good Lord for how he orchestrates things within our character and personality to make us better workers for His kingdom!