I drive along the coast to get to my two smaller elementary schools and as you come out of one of the tunnels, there is usually the most spectacular view of the mountains in Setana, which is two towns north of Otobe.
Tag Archives: japan
Cherry blossoms have finally come to Otobe, over a month and a half after Tokyo was celebrating the season. In Japan, cherry blossoms are often associated with the start of the new school/work/fiscal year in April, whereas in Hokkaido you’re more likely to see them for Golden Week at the beginning of May or school sports days near the end of the month.
I’d best hope so, one of the elementary school principals is my new neighbor.
All of the schools in Japan that I’ve been too (so, like, 15-20), have a display like this – portraits of all of the previous school principals, with their names and dates of service. Some of the schools in my area are old enough that the first few portraits are paintings, rather than photographs.
This week, I’m going to show you one of the schools where I teach. This is the one I call the ‘big elementary school’. With six classes of 20-35 students each, it is by far the biggest of the three elementary schools I teach at. Since it covers from first grade (age 6) to sixth grade (age 12), it’s even bigger than the junior high school. Here it is seen from the window of my classroom:
In some ways, this is the easiest school to teach at. It had an English curriculum in place long before the Japanese ministry of education mandated a certain number of ‘Foreign Language Activity’ hours per year for fifth and sixth graders in April 2012.
It has it’s own dedicated English classroom that I have all to myself. This has it’s pluses and minuses – sometimes I wish all of my students were confined to desks, rather than free to easily kick each other in the head. I have to teach in my socks and those blue carpets get rumpled up, despite the best efforts of distracted students to reorder them. But I can relax between classes, without having to move my materials all over the school. And the lack of desks makes games easier.
I have all the laminated cards an English teacher could ever want. Someone was kind enough over spring break to tackle last year’s mess, so now the cards are all neatly arranged in labelled envelopes, rather than scattered hither and yon. There are also broken cellphones for demonstrations, stickers, and picture books for when we have extra time. Plus my beloved stereo, which they will take back to the math classroom over my dead body. A sixth grader accidentally kicked a hole in my last one.
The view from the window isn’t half bad either.
In other ways, however, it is the hardest school to teach at. I always have to teach four classes in a row, which is a lot to ask when the students are jaded fifth and sixth graders, or hyperactive first and second graders. Trying to get thirty first graders to do anything is exhausting. After teaching four classes and eating lunch, I almost always head to 7-11 for a coke and chocolate. The rest of the afternoon is usually shot, because all I can manage is to stare at the ceiling.
I’ve been taking a picture of the sky every day after work since the first of April. I’ve been aiming for between 4:30PM and 5PM, with the thought in the back of my mind that 4PM-6PM was fine (had to take advantage of that this past Saturday…oops). These pictures are from the first eight days of April, all taken in Otobe.
Sorry about the lack of post on Friday. I had literally nothing to make a post out of. If I could sum up the last two weeks in a photo, it would be me sleeping at my desk. Thankfully, school is back in session and I’m on the lookout for new material for this week.
Another retro post from 2004. I’m planning a multi-day trip there for Tokyo and I’m hoping to recreate some of these pictures. Have to hope that pedestrian bridge is still there…