Apple Country

Stories of rural life as an ALT in a northern Japanese fishing town.

Boredom threatens

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With only an hour left before I go home, I have successfully wasted the majority of another day at the Board of Education.  While the novelty of being in Japan hasn’t quite yet lost its shine, the days where I have nothing to do at work are really starting to wear on me.  I am in the BOE two days a week, whereas nearly all other JETs either just have one day or none at all and spend the rest of their time teaching in schools.  At first, two days didn’t seem like a problem to me – I thought this would give me plenty of time to create fun activities and lesson plans, then spend the rest of the day studying Japanese when I’d finished.  However I have found myself with very little to do and because of this my motivation to do anything has completely vanished.

Only one of my schools gives me full control of planning the lessons and leading them, which is great because they actually trust me and don’t just use me as a human tape-recorder, so it gives me the opportunity to try things out and steer away from the unimaginative exercises in the textbooks.  However the other two schools are a little tricky – at one of them my JTE  plans the lessons herself and then quickly tells me what we’re doing on the way to the lesson, which I can cope with… and the other JTE told me he usually plans the lessons on the day.  I haven’t actually taught a proper lesson with this teacher yet but I’ve got a feeling he’s going to ask me to make a lesson plan off the top of my head, so I’ve printed off a load of general activities just in case!  I’ve spent the least amount of time at this school so I still need to get a better idea of how the lessons work there.  The first time I went there I was about to do my first introduction lesson but he went off to class without me, and when the bell rang I realised he wasn’t there, so I had to find the classroom by myself.  This made me a couple of minutes late, and when I eventually found the right room, I was greeted by applause from the teacher and the rest of the class.  It was a bit embarrassing… he was probably just trying to be funny but I think he felt bad after I told him I had no idea where he’d gone!

Anyway this leaves me with just one school where I actually know what the structure of the lesson is so I can prepare for it effectively.  This week there is a national holiday on the day I’m teaching there, and next week I’ll only be teaching one lesson.  So I basically have 3 whole days at the BOE to prepare materials for 45 minutes’ worth of teaching.  This doesn’t include the 5 extra hours per day I have at the other schools during my free periods.  To sum it up, I’M BORED.  I tried to study Japanese this morning but got fed up after trying to learn a grammar point which had 5 different uses and I couldn’t tell the difference.  There is only so much textbook studying I can do before my brain gets completely fried.  I have a meeting with my supervisor next week to discuss my personal aims while I’m on the JET Programme, so I’m going to ask if I can use one of the BOE days to alternate between the schools, as I really feel like I’m wasting my time here.  I do want to stay another year, because apart from this particular issue I’m having an amazing time and want to get the most out of living in another country as much as I can, but I may have to sacrifice some of this experience in the interest of my sanity!  I hate the feeling of knowing I’ve done nothing productive all day.  My aim from now on will be to create a list of at least 3 things I could do during the day so at least I’m not aimlessly looking things up on the internet and staring at the same page of my textbook for hours.

At least I have a day off tomorrow!  I’m going hiking up a mountain with Bridget (we’re leaving at 6am waaah) so it will be a good opportunity to take my mind off things and stretch my legs.  Apparently it takes 4 hours to get to the top, but we’re going to an onsen afterwards which should be an interesting experience seeing as it’s my first time!! Anyway it’s 16:30 now so I’m off to calligraphy class.  Hopefully I will reach zen if there aren’t too many kids running around the tables next to me!  You have to sit in seiza (kneeling) position the whole time, which is PAINFUL.  I promise my next blog post will be significantly more positive than this one!!

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