Teaching Fun


Saturday night we had a farewell party for Izumi and a welcome party for Mai, the new teacher. The party was on the 17th floor which gave us a good view of…the parking lot behind our building. Oh well. About 70 students came to the party, and as you can see, everyone got pretty drunk. Then we ditched the students, and went to a club in Shinsaibashi to stay out all night. I caught the first train home at 5:45am and promptly collapsed. Here’s the evidence:

          

Here are some pictures from our staff party from a week ago. We had a wild, crazy night which lasted until 6am. We started drinking at a fancy restaurant, courtesy of AEON, and finished at a club. :) It was a loooong, fun night. Please note my white-boy rockin’.

     

I regret to inform everyone that the contest has been temporarily suspended for two reasons: first, I am stupid, and have not managed to remember to take my camera with me this weekend; and second, Michele has been unable to get pictures off her camera and onto her computer.

We will do our best to resume the contest as soon as possible.

While posting, I was listening to Du Hast from the album “The Matrix” by Rammstein.

…trying to figure out why there is a side scroll thingie. Hmmm…

The first piece of good news is my friends Ray Vazquez and Shannon Jamieson from NYC are coming to visit in late March! I can’t wait to rock the Osak. Oh, and Shannon, I got your books! Thank you thank you thank you! I’m suddenly very popular around the school these days….

Also, I got a terrific Valentine’s Day package from Michele, and it had all sorts of goodies in it, but the topper was without a doubt not *one*, not *two*, but *THREE* bags of cookies. Sweet, sweet chocolate chip cookies. The other foreign teachers at my school were slavering over the site of homemade cookies. It was like we were in jail, and I had just gotten a carton of cigarettes. I was getting ready to barter cookies for a shiv and bust outta the joint.

While posting, I was rocking out to Need You Tonight by INXS.

Today I was late for the first time. Yuck. I went to the discount electronics area of town and window shopped and lost track of time. I showed up at 1:03 and had to teach a class right away. Let’s just say I’m NEVER going to have that happen again. Not only was it embarassing, but I got a little “note” from the manager. It really put a dent in the day. I need to get there 10-15 minutes early just so I can switch into teaching mode, set up my materials, and just relax. I stayed a little later today, so hopefully that made up for it. Note to self: never be late again. It’s not worth it.

Whew. (wiping sweat from my forehead)

I’m out of work before 11pm for the first time this week. It has been one looooooong and busy week. The old teacher’s last day was YESTERDAY. I’m teaching ALL his classes from now on. They really throw you into the fire, I’m learning.

But, except for the fact that I’ve been working my ass off, it’s FUN! It really is rewarding to see students get the lesson I’m teaching, and learn some new words or phrases. The other teachers at my school are pretty cool. There are two other foreign teachers; Rebecca and Shawn. Rebecca is nice, eh? And Canadian? And Shawn’s is leaving in a month, so he’s got “senioritis”, and it shows. But it’s cool, they’re both at least friendly. And the Japanese teachers are also really nice. I’m just trying to remember everyone’s name. It seems like everyone has the same damn name here; Yuki, , or Shuji, or Akemi, or Izumi, or Nozomi, or Forgetme!

But I’m speaking mad Japanese, and that’s helping the transition too. So teaching is going well, and I move into my apartment on Saturday night. And hopefully soon after that I’ll have a real internet connection and won’t have to bother with this net cafe nonsense, which is closing NOW.

Last night was incredible. There were about 50 or so AEON students and 10 staff members. It was a serious PARTY with a capital P. We went to a restaurant called Garlic Shop, “Ninniku-ya”. As the name implies, everything has garlic in it. The food was good, and not fishy! Another good non-Japanese food find! I was asked to make a brief speech to introduce myself and say hello. It went very well, and I even threw in some Japanese, which drew applause from everyone.

My manager asked me to please try and talk to everyone, and I think I actually did manage to talk to all 60 or so people individually! It was so much fun engaging these people in a language that they are trying to learn, and they were interested in me as well. The people were hairstylists, painters, machine shop operators, computer programmers, noodle shop owners, and office ladies,(OLs) They came from all walks of life and ranged from fluent speakers to beginners. And the were all nice people! Really friendly, eager to try out their english skills and learn more. I can’t wait to start working on Tuesday.

First, sorry about no entry yesterday. Alcohol was once again to blame. Not me, naturally. :*)

I made it to the other side! I’m done with training! Woo-hoo! And now I’m…seriously hung over. Here’s what happened:

Yesterday Craig, Ellen, and I spent the day preparing our lessons to teach to our “students”, who were actually members of the Kansai AEON staff. Who did i get as a student? None other than the HEAD of the Kansai region! Ugh. So, naturally, I was a little nervous. I thoroughly prepared the lesson, and started teaching at 5:30.

Things got off to a great start. I had the students (Craig, Ellen, and Yuko, head of AEON Kansai) pretend they were at Macy’s in NYC and ask for things. It went really well, and it was fun for everyone. Then I had them listen to a dialogue on CD, and answer some questions. That went pretty well too. Then it was time to drill the vocabulary and phrases. I forgot to do a small thing, but remembered halfway through and managed to recover, but lost a little time. After the drills, I started a “dialogue”. This is when things started to go south. I forgot which person was supposed to say what, and I didn’t really explain it too well. Then I forgot to have the students practice it repeatedly. MEanwhile time is ticking away. Finally, I had them start working on their exersice, which I should have gotten to earlier. The class ended with me having only gotten through about 2/3 of what I normally would have…but I was DONE.

And…despite everything, it went okay. I didn’t panic (much) and was professional the whole time. I really wanted the students to learn, and it showed. It was an amazing experience, and I will obviously have the opportunity to do it again. And again. And again.

Ben had the best advice for me: “In the sea of lessons you will teach for AEON, this one will pale into insignificance, and you’ll wonder what you were so freaked out about. I swear.”

So, after we all finished and did our training feedback and interviews, they took us out to dinner/drinks. Mostly drinks. Ugh.

We were supposed to be out of the hotel by 9:45am. I didn’t get to the lobby until 10:15. Headache, etc. We finally checked out and went back to the training room, where we recieved our AEON pins and were congratulated by the whole staff. Then our managers came and took us to our schools!!!

I met almost all of the teachers at my school, Hankyu-Umeda terminal. It’s right in the train station, and it’ll be easy to get to and find again. I hope. Everyone seems nice, and there’s a big party tonight to welcome me, and to wish the teacher who’s leaving well (his name is Mark, strangely). So now I’m going back to the hotel to SLEEP.

I made it. And I think it’s going to be one incredible year.

…and it went GREAT! This time I had my lesson prepared more thoroughly and I was more relaxed overall. I still biffed a few things, but I really felt like I taught a good, thorough lesson. I think the students had a good time, and even learned a thing or two.

I have to say that AEON certainly provides a thorough structure for each class, and the engineer in me is very happpy about that. Tomorrow is the “final exam”, where I’ll be teaching the head teacher at my school and I’ll be observed by the staff. That will be the first time I’ll be teaching a full 50 minute lesson.

Tonight Craig, Ellen, and I all went out for dinner after teaching and got…Italian food! Surprising, eh? Even more surprising? It was GOOD. And I say that as a native (upstate) New Yorker. It’s hard to mess up garlic, olive oil, spaghetti, basil, tomato and mozzarella, but if anyone would mess it up, the Japanese would. But they didn’t, and it was good! What a relief!

Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Today I TAUGHT. Real students. Four of them. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Did I do everything right? No. Did I mess up a lot? Yep. But it went okay, overall. I think they learned something, and that’s what’s really important.

I taught “How” questions, like, “How much does it cost?” and, “How long is that scarf?” I forgot to do things like explain how the exercise was supposed to work, and demonstrate the questions and answers, and I even forgot to put the Q&A on the whiteboard!

BUT I was enthusiastic, and I really wanted the students to learn. I had the chance to meet them all before the class started, and find out about them and why they were studying English. And that made my job easier because then I knew their names and a few interests, and I was able to use that in the class.

So, overall, it went okay. Was it great? No, but it wasn’t bad, and I think pretty darn good for my first time! And you know what? My Grammy was there and she saw it all.

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