Tag Archives: being a teacher

The Planning Pain

As a teacher planning is part of my job, it is how we move forward before we hit the classroom. It is the format of the performance, as much as the direction of the instruction.

With this in mind I run up against a class that needs more planning than others. Most classes use a text book that facilitates lesson creation by the page format and topics within. So when a class says they want more free talk and discussion type classes that means more planning.

But they want more freedom, how is that more planning? Because freedom comes with a price tag! No, actually because when group classes want more free conversation it doesn’t mean they will get it, especially if the members are quiet and not inclined to start speaking in a foreign language. So it falls back on the teacher to create the right environment within which students will be able to have “free” conversation. See what I mean?

Then it falls to me, the teacher, to come up with IDEAS and fix TASKS which will get the group talking and make free conversation flow more easily due to a shared goal, debate between or must give opinion relating situation. It is the generation of IDEAS, while sitting in my sky blue classroom in my home, that is the brain buster.

I am a person who generally can sprout ideas like mushrooms on a log, but sometimes we all run dry of the creative juices, so to type. This morning I sit here in my classroom/office and dread coming up with ideas, while at the same time hoping inspiration will strike my fears dead before a headache like a storm cloud cumuli-nimbuses above my creative head.

Writing, then, would be easier than making up lesson plans, but I am a teacher as well as a writer and teaching pays the bills! So creative I must be.

Keep writing, and being creative, and planning lessons you lightning-rod!

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Being an English Teacher in Japan (Part 1)

This happens to be a big topic in my case because that has been my job for 17 years now. I enjoy teaching and never expected to be a teacher until I was thrown across an ocean.

I was lucky, fortunate, blessed to have started teaching at a company that actually trained their employees how to teach. Being in a foreign land, with new foods and living experiences is hard enough. Throw in a completely new work environment and you have a recipe for trouble. I think that is why many of the people in my second company had such a hard time, they had to fly without the benefit of training or experience, but I am getting off the point here, aren’t I?

Teaching English to Japanese students has been both a challenge and a joy. The typical class of kids deals in teaching them a grammar point, “This is a pen.” and working on things like reading, spelling and listening to spoken English. Kids classes are a great joy to teach, or they will make you lose hair. This is why I am bald! No, that is called heredity not workplace stress. Yet, kids classes need energy and that is where you face an up hill battle-kids will have more energy than you so you’ve got to have your method down, that’s for sure.

Teaching adult students is very enjoyable. They have interesting and involved lives which most are not afraid to tell you about. I’ve taught hair stylists, TV announcers, government employees, college students, lawyers, doctors among many many others. They have enriched my life and I am honored to have had a part in their lives. I think that right there is part of the joy of teaching.

Just like a chef can enjoy seeing people eat the dish they worked over, a teacher takes part in the joy of others learning something new. I am truly happy when students go off and use what they studied. It was the whole point.

Being in Japan is maybe another story altogether. I live in a place where English is not that common. It is, in fact, still a very rural place where the people are shy and the weather is nearly always raining. I am not complaining, I am happy I settled here instead of a big city like Tokyo, but it has been said that you can live in Tokyo and not need Japanese at all. Here that would be impossible. Not complaining, just saying it is very different type of place from the big cities of Japan.

I still like living here though. The food is good, humid weather is good on the skin and there is more nature than you can, well shake a stick at! I am tired of the language barrier, but hey that is my own fault and not others. Still teaching has bridged that gap for me too and I am thankful to be doing a job that is enriching people’s lives.

Keep writing.