Today I did my last of my preliminary visits to my five schools. I handed out most of the Alaska gifts that I brought, save the mead and calendars I brought for the principals at my middle school. It’s going to be interesting working with different people in different settings. Each school has a different atmosphere, and each supervising teacher has a different level of English, and approach to how to use me in the classroom. This is particularly noticeable between my four elementary schools, between which I will spend about half of my time. Three of them are large, from 200 to 400 kids, and one is small, with only 45. The small one has the newest building, and is 50 feet from the ocean. I will only visit there about once every month, the other elementaries about once every week or two. The middle school is my base school, where I will be a little more than half the time. Classes start Monday, although I will not give my first lesson until Tuesday. I am anxious about what to include, particularly what sort of activity I should give to accompany my introductory lesson. I want the students to be interested. Thursday and Friday are free days, although I still get paid. I got my first paycheck yesterday! Sort of exciting. I have enough money to go shopping for a car now. If I were hardcore, I’d bike everyday, but not only would that be dangerous in the winter, it would just be a pain in the ass. I’m gonna get a car.
Of my school visits, one conversation stands out. At Murakami Minami Elementary, I was talking to Inoue-sensei, my supervisor at that school, and Kawamura-sensei after I had been given a tour of the school. We were basically just BSing, and Inoue-sensei gave me his business card, or meishi. I asked them if I should get some, since it’s one of those cultural stereotypes about Japan that I’ve always believed to be true. But Kawamura-sensei insisted that most teachers do not have them. Inoue then joked that all men had samurai topknots, and Kawamura replied “oh yeah, and we all carry swords too.” I found that extremely funny, hearing Japanese cultural stereotypes challenged, and made fun of, by two ordinary Japanese elementary school teachers.