I haven’t posted in who knows how long.
I have been extremely unmotivated to write because of all the things going on in my life recently. But today I am here to tell you what happened and to promise to update more often (for my own sake, as well).
Some of you might remember my posts about things that happened at school. I was having a hard time adjusting and thought it was just me. I thought that I was the only one having the types of problems I was, mostly because my JET friends would turn to ”It will get better,” as words of advice instead of ”I feel like that, too.” and that really would have made the difference. I’m not blaming anyone, I definitely know how it feels to want to put up a front to seem confident and put together. But I think we need to stop sugar coating things. It really isolated me to hear that other JETs were having an easy time, and what helped pull me through was finally hearing those magic words, ‘We all experience this.’
So at the junior high school I teach at, I mainly taught the first years with a JTE I didn’t get along with. Mostly because something she did at the beginning of the school year bothered me so I think in the back of my mind I didn’t really forgive or respect her.
At my elementary schools, I taught 6 classes a day with a lunch break and that’s it. I was in charge of coming up with the lessons, and that terrified me because this is my first real job and I’ve never learned how to lesson plan or anything of the sort. This lack of confidence leaked into my attitude and I would show up to school nervous and petrified of messing up and looking like an idiot. So normally, the teachers would either ask me ‘What are we doing today?’ and it would freak me out, or they would just walk into the classroom with the students and I would feel weird not greeting them. This became the norm, and although I learned the ropes on coming up with games and activities, I still lacked confidence and had a less than desirable rapport with my teachers.
I am not one to talk about problems with people involved, so I would go home and vent to my friends. Recently, I started that Jessica Harlow ‘Love Yourself’ journal and it really helped build my confidence, but that wasn’t the whole problem, so it didn’t fix much of anything but my attitude when I went to school.
The thing that broke me down was this. One day, I went to a school with a vice principal I really like. She speaks English and Russian and has a booming personality. Towards the end of the day, I gave her some chocolate as a thank you gift for always asking how I was and listening to my problems or helping with my classes. She sat me down and told me that she heard rumors that other teachers were talking about me. She didn’t really go into detail and she used the subtle Japanese way of giving advice by telling me to be energetic and greet people when I go to school so that they will feel as though I like them. I think she was trying to tell me that some teachers didn’t think I liked them or wanted to be there, really. It was hard to hear that sort of thing, especially because if you ask any of my friends to describe me, most of them would tell you that I am insane, bubbly, smiley, and happy all the time. To hear that most of my teachers thought I was an introverted, uninterested ALT made me really upset.
This lingered in my mind and I went to junior high school the next week. That vice principal had called one of the head teachers at my junior high to ask him to help me out and take care of me. So he sat me down and told me to be proactive and not sit at my desk all day. But the hard thing about being an ALT, especially a new one, is that you never know what is going on or if you should attend or not. I want to help, and I usually go upstairs and help clean classrooms, and teachers feel bad that I clean the rooms when it is supposed to be the students’ job. So there was a lot of miscommunication (or lack of communication) and it all piled up and I felt like a child getting yelled at so I broke down crying. One of my teachers saw me and took me into the bathroom and I finally let it all out. I told her about my problems at my elem. schools and about how I try to help but never know how or I feel awkward or am unsure or unconfident in my abilities. Two more of my JTEs came in and told me that everyone feels the same way, ALT or not. They told me things I can do, told me to tell them if I don’t know what’s going on, and assured me that they would help me out if I can’t find a job to do during events or cleaning time.
The next day I felt better, so I went to school with a smile. It was graduation day and I was really upset that my adorable and amazing 3rd years were leaving, but it was more fun for me than ever because I got to help teachers make crafts, greet parents, quiet students, etc. I felt like a real part of the team. I got to take pictures with my 3rd years and meet their parents, and it was just a really nice thing to be a part of.
The next day I was feeling sad about not having the 3rd years anymore, but still happy that I was getting along with more of the teachers. I helped out my JTE I normally didn’t get along with, and she praised me for being a big help in class. I played with the second years during lunch break, and I am slowly getting used to the idea of a new school year with new students. However, none of my students will REALLY be new, as I taught the 6th graders who will come here as 1st years. It will be fun being the teacher who knows those students the most, so maybe from April on I will have an advantage.
Anyway, I feel a lot better and I feel like I can be myself at school. Today we had a class match where the girls played basketball and the boys played soccer. I had a lot of fun cheering them on and the kids thanked me for supporting their class.
The weather feels so nice now. It really affects our moods. Next month is my birthday, four concerts, and a musical. I have been keeping up with my reading challenge, although Goodreads will tell you that I am two books behind. I finished Shadow and Bone and now I am reading Anna and the French Kiss. I started Legend and got 25% through it but hated it so it set me back. But I won’t give up!
I also started exercising and cooking more. I got a PS4 so I use Just Dance and I do Kpop workouts as well. Exercising really improves my mood and afterwards I feel like being productive and eating good food.
I hope everyone had a good St. Patrick’s Day. My students wear green uniforms, so I couldn’t enforce any pinching rules hehe… Spring break is soon and I am taking a trip to Oita!! I really want to go swimming or something but it’s definitely not warm enough. Oh well.