I had teacher orientation on Monday. I found out where I will be teaching this year. My 1st school will be at Shiamahigashi, which is about a 30 minute commute by bus and train. I will be there from September - December. In January, I will start at another school, called Masui and it's only a 15-minute bike ride from our apartment. I will teach there the rest of the school year. The teacher that lives next door to me worked at both schools last year. He was very enthusiastic about those schools. We also found out that they made some changes to our jobs. Starting in October, I will be going to an elementary school every Thursday. I think it will be fun to work in both the junior high and elementary schools.
After orientation, Ms. Kimura, the senior English teacher, showed me how to get from my apartment to my new school. She is so kind! Then she took me to school where I met the principal, Mr. Hagiwara, vice principal, Ms. Miki, another English teacher, Ms. Kusada, music teacher, Ms. Nishikawa, and the math teacher, Mr. Asayama. How am I going to remember all of these names plus the students' names!?!
The school has 400 children. I think Ms. Kimura wants me to come up with my own lessons and teach some classes on my own. I will be teaching approximately 17 classes per week in every grade level including a class of 3 disabled children. I'm very excited at how open she is to me teaching. I need to spend some time working on lesson plans. The school itself seemed old. Everyone is very, very, very nice!
After I met some of the teachers at school, Ms. Kimura and Ms. Kusada took me to lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant. When you enter the restaurant, there are rocks in a pond that you have to cross - like when you have to navigate small stones that are piled on top of each other in a stream, like in Sedona where you go rock hopping, but smaller rocks. Some of the rocks aren't sturdy. You have to step on the rocks to get inside and there are some other areas of the restaurant that are the same way. They bought me a wonderful lunch with dessert! They were very surprised and happy at how open I am to Japanese food, that I like green tea and that it’s popular in America, that I drink alcohol (not that I drank during lunch, but there are work parties where the alcohol flows) and they were very excited about my Japanese pronunciation skills, they seemed very happy about that....but my Japanese is so poor right now.
After that, Ms. Kimura drove me home and helped me with my speeches for Thursday. I have to give a speech in front of the teachers and then a 2nd speech the same day in front of the entire school in Japanese. She's going to meet me at the train station on Thursday to give me a ride and show me again how to walk to school. I have to be at school at 8am and I can leave around 4:30 pm and/or go to “activity clubs". This week should be slow. Thursday is opening ceremony and Friday the children are being tested, so I will work on my lesson plans during that time. Apparently, children in Japan clean their own schools. They spend 15 minutes each day cleaning. I think it's a good idea, because the kids are probably more likely to keep the school clean throughout the day and be respectful of the facilities. It will be interesting to see how it works.
So everything seems to be working out well so far. Of course I've only been here 3 days. After work, I went shopping and biked all over downtown and the train station area with another teacher, Alexis. I had a small victory, I found tampons!!!! We went to dinner at a kind of Japanese tapas bar and then we got a drink at a pub. Alexis showed me the underbelly of Himeji, a small red light district with the ladies of the night wondering around.
I actually slept an entire 7 hours last night. I had a couple of beers, which assisted me with being able to sleep. That is the secret to acclimating to time change - alcohol.