Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New school year, new school

Well, here I go again, another school. This time, it's Hitsujigaoka JHS (Hitsujigaoka means "little ship on the hill, isn't that cute?). Hokuyo was a hard departure for me, so I must admit that it was with a heavy heart that I came to this school on Wednesday.

Hitsujigaoka Junior High School

The first thing I noticed about the school was that it wasn't the usual beige concrete block that constitutes most Japanese public school. Solar panels? Large windows? What was this fancy place? Come to find out, the new school building was built about 3 years ago, and I must, say it is nice. The kids are nice too, for that matter. They're definitely more shy than my Hokuyo students, but I think that's because their English speaking ability, as a whole, is a little lower. My first two days - Wednesday and Thursday - were filled with opening ceremonies and the welcoming of the ichi nen-sei (1st graders) into the school. And what cuties they were, marching into the school gymnasium with their new school uniforms that are just a wee bit too large for them. I haven't really introduced myself to any of them yet; I think they're freaked out enough right now as it is, they don't need me coming up to them and scaring them with my English! The school's a little larger than Hokuyo (600 students), and so far I've taught all the second grade classes. They're a sweet, polite bunch. The boys are precocious and energetic, and the girls are quiet and shy. Actually, that was quite a shock for me, as most of the girls I've taught at my other JHS were so excited to talk with me.

The march of the first graders during their orientation on Monday.

During lunch break and after school, I've made it a point to walk around and talk with the kids. While doing this, I've discovered that the third grade is definitely going to be my wild bunch. They're loud, a little obnoxious, the girls roll their skirts up ridiculously short, and the boys are obsessed with their crazy anime-like hair styles. My kind of kids. I haven't had a class with them yet (I only teach each third grade class one time this month - I think they don't want me to be scared away...haha), so I've really been trying to talk with them. I go right up to those girls with their short skirts, tell them how cute they are and they giggle. Then I go straight for the groups of boys and tell them I like their hair and ask them if they play any sports. I worked in New Jersey....these kids don't scare me!!

The baseball team showing their skills at the first grade orientation

Through all this, the brass band club and baseball team have grown quite fond of me already. I had a huge group of girls in the brass band run up to me on Friday and say in unison, "Sarah, you are cute!" And after a great conversation with the boys of the baseball team on Friday, they make it a point to tell me goodbye everytime I leave at the end of the day.

The track and field team trying to diminish one of the last snow hills left on the sports field.

Table tennis team gettin' at it.

I'm having a hard time trying to remember the kids' names this time around. It's just that I worked so hard to memorize so many students' names at Hokuyo, it's a little overwhelming. Maybe I'll just give them all nicknames....

But despite all the new challenge - new names to memorize, wild third graders, English teachers that'll barely speak English to me - I have a good feeling about this school. I think maybe their previous (non-JET) ALTs were bad experiences, so I really have a chance to make a difference here.
Banner that came down from the ceiling during orientation. It says, "Welcome to Hitsujigaoka Junior High School. Please do your best during your junior high school life.

Hai, Ganbarimasu!!

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