Hello there! I had a slow afternoon today at work, so I walked around the school and took some pictures. I thought I’d talk a little bit about the average day as an ALT in a Tatebayashi elementary school. Today (Tuesday) I was at Hachisho (8sho), the 8th elementary school.
I live 30 minutes away by bike from 8sho, so I left at around 7:50 this morning. I typically get in sometime between 8:20 and 8:30. There’s a beautiful park just across the street, and the trees are finally starting to burst into colour!
I’m the only teacher at my school who bikes, lucky them!
In Japan, you have two types of shoes: indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. When I arrive, I take off my shoes and trade them for my flats. I have my own cubby marked ALT!
Next, I go to the teacher’s room. It’s usually very busy by the time I get in – a lot of teachers are gathering up their things and heading to class. My desk is at the front of the room, so I get to say “good morning” (ohayou gozaimasu!) to everyone as they pass by.
Sorry the images are so cropped! I was trying to be discreet 😉 There’s always someone in the room to answer the phone. The running joke at 8sho is that they’ll leave me alone in the room and the phone will ring and I’ll have to say “Hello! Shou shou omachi kudasai!” (“Hello! Please wait a moment!” They think mixing English and Japanese is hilarious, haha)
The first image is of the front of the room, where the principal, vice principal, and secretaries sit. The board behind them is where information for the day is written. I can’t read most of the kanji; mostly I look to see if the schedule is A time or B time, or if my classes have been cancelled for some reason and there’s an assembly, in which case I look to see if there’s a specific time that’s been written up and just kind of watch everyone else to see what they do.
I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in this job – observation! People don’t always remember to tell me when things are happening, and I can’t always understand conversations going on in the room, so I have to make sure I watch and listen carefully to figure things out for myself!
(Also, fun little notice – the calendar on the top of the blackboard runs from right to left! Confused the hell out of me the first time I saw it.)
Also, my desk. It’s messy, but I swear, it’s an organised chaos! I don’t lead as many classes as I did last year, but I do bring a lot of the flashcards and worksheets to class (and I make a lot of them, too).
Various posters! The first talks about what to do during cleaning time, which is after lunch; the second is an anti-bullying board; the third is about various foods at different times of the year.
Lemme tell you straight up, though. Cleaning time is great for the kids – the big idea is that the kids gain an appreciation and understanding of having to clean the school themselves with no janitor to clean up after them. And that’s cool. But I gotta say — who thought it was a good idea to have first graders clean their own toilets?! Certain hallways are rather treacherous in the summer because of the…shall we just say…fumes.
The kids also have to change their shoes when they come to school. The word for this area is genkan. And as you can see, they’ve got unicycles! I actually haven’t seen many kids riding the unicycles recently…huh.
P.E. classes. There’s no set P.E. teacher in elementary school, so the homeroom teachers were directing their students.
An outside view of the school from the door to the teacher’s room. You can see also where we hang up our milk cartons to dry and recycle!
I will say, one thing that I love about Japan is the openness – as in, the front door is literally left open, the multiple doors that lead to the various genkan are left open…doors are left open everywhere! I mean, it’s not so pleasant now, because it’s so cold, and the frigid air just sweeps down the hallway, but – there’s no worry at all that someone’s going to come in and hurt anyone. In America, I’ve heard of schools that lock down once classes start and parents having to buzz in if they want to come into the building.
No such worries in Japan, thankfully!
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade calligraphy! The kanji read fishing (maybe?), swan, hope, and peace. In the bottom picture, you can see the kids’ lunch bags. Their aprons, hats, desk table cloths, chopsticks, cups, and toothbrushes are in there.
The 5th grade hallway! The tables on the left beneath the widows are dragged into the classroom at lunch time to make a serving line. (You can read my post about Japanese school lunch here.) The kids brush their teeth after lunch at the sinks and clean their brushes there after art and calligraphy class.
And a 5th grade classroom! The kids put their backpacks in the back cubbies and keep notebooks and stuff in their desks and in bags that they hang from their desk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped over those bags!
So there you go! A peek inside of my school. Sometime soon I’ll do a more complete post about my schedule and the average day I experience as an ALT.
Until then! またね！