Today (Friday) concluded my training for my new teaching job. The last week has been a barrage of paperwork, lectures, and practice with some games, ramen, and sleep thrown in. I can honestly say I think I’ve eaten four bowls of ramen since I’ve been back in the country. I’ve been here for a week. I’m already planning out my next bowl for when I get back to Tokyo. If there is a ramen threshold, I am going to find it and cross it.
Training has been fantastic. I went into the experience with few expectations (and virtually no teaching experience) but have come away very, very impressed. Every single person I have encountered from ALS is warm, inviting, knowledgeable, kind, and passionate. I have been absolutely blown away by the commitment these people have shown to their job and their company. They’re extremely flexible regarding the way the teachers choose to work with the students, receptive to questions and concerns from everyone working for them, and encourage feedback. I have an enormous stack of papers to review – we were given information regarding everything from how to teach children/adults/junior high kids to interesting bingo formats to a packet of information prepared by the outgoing teacher detailing the classes we’re taking over. They say they only expect us to remember about 20% of the information.
I’d say that’s about how much I’ll retain.
Next week I spend observing the classes I’m taking over. Hannah, the woman I’m replacing, teaches mostly very young children – elementary school aged kids and younger. There are a couple junior high classes, and then a small number of private adult lessons. I took a look at my schedule: most days I don’t start until 4 in the afternoon, and end at around 8:30 or 9:00. This amazes me to no end and I’m still unreasonably excited by how much time this will allow for sleeping.
I do so like my sleeps.
I’m really looking forward to meeting all the kids next week. I feel great about the situation now, but I know I won’t really have an idea of what I signed up for until I get into the swing of things and develop a routine regarding my classes. Thankfully, my new employer has already shown some faith in my abilities; they’ve offered the possibility of teaching one more day a week (which means getting paid more), and I’ve also been asked to appear at a PR event in Narita tomorrow afternoon. I’m not entirely sure why I was chosen to participate (there’s just one other established teacher attending), but I won’t argue – I’m glad to get some more experience under my belt (and the monetary compensation was a nice incentive too).
With this week, I am deemed prepared to go out and educate the youth of Japan. A little scary, I guess, but I think the best way to get the hang of things is just to do it. I’m very excited to take this next step. I’m moving back to Tokyo early Monday morning, and from then on will be officially back in town. I have a new phone number and mail address setup now, but I’m just using a crappy prepaid phone until I get my visa and other documents processed (and can then get a contract). I plan on keeping the prepaid phone I have now for visitors to use (so when you visit, bro, you won’t have to worry about getting lost!) in the future.
I really can’t say enough good things about my experience thus far. I’m eating tons of ramen, meeting great people, starting the process of catching up with friends I made last year, and am sure that this is going to be an interesting new adventure.
…though I will admit that when it comes to meal times, the thing that excites me the most about all of this really is the ramen.