Well, school started on August 29th and since then I’ve inevitably fallen into the work, eat, sleep, repeat pattern that many of you are familiar with. There’s not a lot of time to do fun exciting things like climb Mt. Fuji anymore. But, I guess my school life is exciting enough by itself. Here’s a typical day for me:

After the usual morning stuff, I run out the door and jump on my bike. It’s about 10-20 minutes to my school depending where I’m going on a particular day. After I get to school, I get ready for my classes by printing worksheets, cutting/drawing materials, and finalizing lesson plans at the last minute. At my junior high, I mostly go to class, read from the textbook, and help with the communication activites by bringing a game/worksheet that involves that day’s grammar point. At the elementary schools, I’m responsible for the entire lesson. I usually have 4 classes a day, sometimes 5, which always leaves my throat dry from yelling things like “please listen!” “sit down!” and “stand up!”

And then there’s lunch time! Lunch is always interesting. Instead of the students going to a cafeteria, the students bring the food to each classroom and the kids turn their classroom into a mini cafeteria. Eight to ten people serve the food to the classmates, all of the desks are moved, and then we eat! Usually there is a pickled salad, rice, soup, and something to go with it, like meat, or bread, or both. I never look at the menu so I’m always surprised! I have to eat with chopsticks, which is easy with certain things and difficult with others. Also, the kids are encouraged to communicate with me the entire time. Sometimes I don’t get to eat much because I’m answering questions the whole lunch time. Other times (esp. at the junior high) the kids pretend I don’t exist so they don’t have to talk to me in English.

When the kids get done eating something amazing happens. Everyone in the school works together to clean! The floors are swept and scrubbed, chalkboards erased and washed, and the kids are doing it! I don’t think American schools realize they have an army of cleaning machines inside the classrooms. Unfortunately they’re not very thorough, and there are parts of the school that probably never get cleaned. Oh well.

After lunch I usually have 1 more class and then I’m finished. In my free time I either make lesson plans, or make more materials, or study Japanese, or sometimes I write letters. On my elementary days I stay after school to talk to the teachers about next week’s lesson plan so they know what is going on.

The best parts of my days are when I get to talk to the students or play with them or see them acting silly. The elementary kids are absolutely adorable and some of the junior high kids still have a little spunk in them leftover from elementary.

Then I go home. Thanks for reading!

-Kristen

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