On being a muse

There are many wonderful things about teaching here. I get to design my own curriculum and lessons, the teachers I work with are so helpful, hardworking and nice, and there are very few essays to mark. ūüėČ The best thing about teaching in Japan though, is the students. Every day an interaction with a student makes me laugh. They are so lively and entertaining. I am the only foreign person most of them interact with, and I think they still see me as a novelty.

One of the amazing consequences of being different is that sometimes your super cute students will draw pictures of you! Here are but a few of the amazing depictions I’ve been given.

I told the students to draw anything they wanted. Most students drew sports equipment or Anpanman.

Me at my most Genki. I think they got the glasses just right.

This student drew me surrounded by students, ala Jesus and the little Children. Too cute.

This one is my favourite. I am on the left, between Doraemon and Anpanman. On the right is Hello Kitty, whose name in English the student tried in vain to spell many times before resorting to Japanese.


Ohhhh… life as an English teacher in Japan. Full of so many small joys!

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Teaching in Japan

When Daniel Radcliffe exits the car at 1:00 and approaches the school, you can see a small bit of what my work life is here in Japan.



That’s right, my job in Japan is half teaching, half being a celebrity!

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Cherry Blossoms and my Schools

Cherry blossom trees surround many schools in Japan, and both my schools have an abundance. Opening ceremonies for the new school year are in early April, and coincide with the blooming of the trees.

This is Omuta Kita (North Omuta) High School, where I spend Monday, Tuesday and Friday.


Yamato (which literally translates as mountain gates) high school, where I teach on Wednesday and Thursday.

We have really been enjoying the cherry blossom season, and I will be sad to see it end!

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Graduation Ceremony

Students and teachers have talked about the upcoming graduation ceremony for months now, and on Tuesday it finally happened! Although I understood almost nothing of the speeches, the preparations and the ceremony, it was still a very moving experience. Students here graduate after three years in high school, and they ended formal lessons in January to spend the last few months of their high school career preparing for University entrance examinations. By now, all the students have been accepted, or not, and will spend the next month getting ready for their life at University, or starting their careers.

On Monday we had a full day practice ceremony with the first, second and third year students in the gym for three hours rehearsing their ‘Stand up, bow, sit down cues’ and singing the school song. On Tuesday, parents began arriving early in the morning, some dressed in Kimonos, to take their place in the gym. I checked in one last time on the third year students, to find them all taking photos together and signing yearbooks. The similarities between graduation at home and here were very interesting.

Students signing yearbooks!

Students signing yearbooks!

The actual ceremony was much more formal than those at home, with students only standing up when their name was called, and not crossing the stage or receiving their diploma. One student accepted a diploma on behalf of the others, and another student made a speech that even had me tearing up as she struggled to get through it.

After the formal, and long, ceremony was over, students went back  with their parents to their home room classes where they received their diploma and some mementos. Each student made a speech to their classmates, parents and teachers. It was so interesting to see the bonds these students had with their teachers. They generally have the same homeroom teacher for their three years of highschool, and teachers here are much more involved in students lives. For example, if a student gets in trouble with the law, the police call the school before the parents. Also, students may spend up to 10-11 hours a day at school due to extra classes and activities!

Standing up as the student representative receives the diploma for all the students

On of the teachers at my school said to me that ‘although you can not understand the words, you can understand the emotions,’ and as cheesy as that sounds, it perfectly sums up my experience!

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Work Humor

These¬†magnets¬†are on the cupboard in the staff room. The photocopy lady says she put them there because Japanese teachers “never have time for smiling.”

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