Assistant Language Teachers in Susono

April 20, 2009

There are now six Assistant Language Teachers working in the city run elementary and junior high schools in Susono. The high school also has an Assistant Language Teacher who is employed through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).

The Assistant Language Teachers at elementary and junior high school are employed through the Susono Overseas Friendship Association.

This year most of our job roles as Assistant Language Teachers has changed. Firstly an extra ALT was employed. Now there is no longer just one Assistant Language Teacher for the elementary schools. Rather three of us go to elementary school for a few days a week and junior high school at other times.

Further, all but one Assistant Language Teacher in Susono changed schools at the start of the new school year at the beginning of April.

I quite like the system of moving to a different school as an Assistant Language Teacher as it keeps the job fresh.


Pirates game – elementary school lesson

April 17, 2009

Since the start of April I’ve been visiting elementary schools a few times a week. A definite change to my school life routine. For our first lesson I am introducing the kids to a game I used to play as a child which went down really well at the last elementary school I taught at.

It’s based on the game Port and Starboard that I used to play when I was younger. This time round I am calling it the Pirates Game. You can read more details on my ALT Lessons blog.

So far the kids are enjoying running about like crazy as we “learn English”. Going to a variety of schools has definitely spiced up my life working as an ALT in Susono.


Mobile ALT

April 16, 2009

My school life has changed since the beginning of the new school year at the start of April.

Instead of being at one school almost all the time, I now visit four different schools. When I started as an ALT in Susono I was based at only one school. Then graduated to occassionally visiting an elementary school. Now I’m all over the place.

Initially I was reluctant to leave nishi junior high school. It is so close to my apartment and the teachers were great. However as I had been there for four years I thought trying something different would spice up my ALT lifestyle.

Going to four schools means I get to meet loads of different teachers and students too. Today I was teaching a 5th grade elementary kid who I used to teach at nursery school. Another reminder of just how long I have been living in Susono!

So far I am enjoying my new role as a mobile ALT.


2009 academic year – week one

April 13, 2009

Last week was the first week of the 2009/2010 academic school year. For the last four years I had worked at Nishi junior high school only 2 minutes walk from my house. So I had become very accustomed to leaving my house at 7.50 and arriving to work for an 8 o’clock start.

This year though my working schedule has changed completely. I now visit four different schools, two elementary schools and two junior high schools. Not only that, but the schools I visit are the furthest away from the center of Susono.

On a practical level, this means that I am getting up much earlier than when I worked at nishi. Definitely not an issue at the moment as the weather is getting warmer and the mornings much lighter. Until November, the ALT lifestyle is very comfortable! BUT…I know it is going to be horrible when the temperature drops and the mornings are dark at the end of the year.

On the upside, moving schools has been a good thing for me. I think I was getting too comfortable at nishi. Changing this up is keeping me on my toes, e.g. giving speeches introducing myself to teachers and students.

Also moving schools within a town the size of Susono has meant that I now have colleagues who I have worked with at other schools; who I have met outside work, e.g. neighbours; whose childern I have taught, etc. Moving schools is great for getting to know more people within the community.


Entrance ceremony

April 11, 2009

The Susono city junior high and elementary schools had their entrance ceremonies – 入学式 (にゅうがくしき) (nyu gaku shiki) – last Monday. This was the first day of school for the Susono ALTs.

The entrance ceremony is much more formal than my recollection of starting school in the UK. They decorate the school with flowers and parents come to watch in suits and kimonos!

As part of the ceremony, existing students welcome the new pupils by singing them a song. Children in Japan seem much more into singing than me and my friends when I was a child.

There is also a speech from the headmaster and PTA chairperson as well as a host of VIPs, e.g. community leaders, someone from the Board of Education, police officers, etc. who come to witness the ceremony. My less than perfect Japanese may have contributed to my understanding of the headmaster’s speech at one of my schools. I thought he said that parents should never take their eyes off their children because of the dangerous times we live in, including the scurge of drugs and violence.

Susono is possibly the safest place I have lived in my whole life!

Although possibly he was merely trying to encourage parents to take an active role in their kids lives?

On this first day fo school, the teachers are treated toa luxury Japanese bento. As there were extra, I got one for my dinner too! Just one of the perks of ALT school life!


Susono Parks – Susono Undo Koen

April 5, 2009

I decided that having smaller posts on individual Susono Parks filled in the Susono adventure category might make things easier to read. Earlier today I went to the park with my son. Here is a brief review.

裾野市運動公園 (すそのし うんどう こうえん) (Susono-shi Undo Koen) or Susono Sports Park is far away from the center of Susono. You really need a car (or someone else to drive you) to get there!

When I first started working as a Susono ALT I hardly ever went to the Undo Koen. Now though, I have a car and a son so have both the means and a good reason to go there!

There are some great sports facilities there. For example an athletics track with football pitch; a baseball ground; tennis courts; and a large grassy park. I take my son to the park area because that’s where the most fun for kids is to be had.

There are two big roller slides. One gentler and shorter than the other. It’s fairly painful on your backside if you ride the slide unprotected. Typically Japanese parents and kids make a sledge type contraption out of thick cardboard. Mr Matsuyama from the Board of Education kindly made one for my son and I the last time I popped into City Hall.

Undo Koen map


Stunt kite flying in Susono

April 4, 2009

I just bought a new dual line stunt kite over the internet. It arrived yesterday so I have been out and about in Susono looking for good kite flying locations. As a Susono ALT I’m wondering if I’ll have enough leeway to go out and fly my kite during my free periods.

So far the best places I’ve found are the school grounds as they are wide enough to fly my stunt kite without hitting any power cables. The one challenge I face though is that the playing fields, while wide enough to fly my kite, are often surrounded by either trees or buildings. This makes the wind less reliable and harder to control my kite.

I’ll definitely introduce my son to kite flying as he gets older. In the meantime I will be on the look out for a more open flying location. I’ve also started keeping a stunt kite flying blog.