Wednesday 3 January 2018

Hello From The Other Side Of The Classroom!!!

Once upon a time in September 2017,  I got the MEXT teacher training scholarship and transitioned to the other side of the classroom to become a student at Hokkaido University in Japan! How I miss the teacher-side of the classroom! But I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more ways to become a better teacher.

The view from this side is exhilarating, laced with a lot of mixed feelings. More than ever before, I am proud to be a teacher and I have come to appreciate more the hard work that the teachers put in. The past three months have also made me see things from the perspective of a student and I think I might have a fair idea of the struggles students face in this time and age. In this post, I will share what I have learnt so far from observing my teachers.

Needless to say that I was completely illiterate when I arrived in Japan. As a matter of fact, all the English I prided myself on knowing became gibberish and inconsequential. I could neither speak nor read Japanese and the little I tried to learn on my own before traveling did not make much sense to me.  This is the twelfth week since I began my Japanese Intensive Language course and I can boldly say that I am semi-literate! Thanks to my wonderful Senseitachi-先生たち (teachers) I have learnt Japanese from scratch and have built a  repertoire of just enough vocabulary to help me get around successfully. Every day as I sit on my side of the classroom I keenly observe my teachers and try to get as much from teachers who are carrying out their trade in a country that is world famous for her robust Educational System.

  •  Punctuality: Japanese people are world famous for punctuality and this reflects in the classroom. up until this time, never have any of my Professors arrived late. Lessons begin as at when due and end right on time! Not a minute earlier, never a second later. 
  • Preparedness: The preparation of the teacher is always evident, never a confused moment; lessons are always seamless, with a smooth transition from one point to the other with a whole lot of variety of materials ranging from powerpoint to card games, to videos. Every day I am amazed at how Professors who teach University students put in so much effort to create great learning resources to teach adult learners. I can Imagine that the lessons for younger learners will be beyond amazing. I hope to find out soon enough. 
  • Tender Loving Care: This is the part that touches me the most. I have always read about the need for teachers to know their students and be involved with them in order to get the best out of them and it was one strategy that worked for me during my time as a teacher. I am glad to be able to experience this care and love on this side of the classroom. The teachers are very involved with us and care about our day to day activity, always using a few minutes of class to ask us about how we are faring in Japan. I can never forget those weeks that Yamashita Sensei gifted us with a daily supply of fresh 柿の種(persimmons). On several occasions, my teachers have gone out on a limb for our wellbeings. And the result? On my part, I always do my best to pay attention in class, work extra hard to make sure that their efforts are not in vain. Imagine the effect on a much younger learner....

Dear teacher, as you prepare to begin the second term in a few days, why not infuse punctuality, preparedness, and tender loving care into your teaching game and see if things will work out differently this term. 

For me, the Japanese Intensive Language Course will be over in a few weeks and I'll head on to my Teacher Training course at the Hokkaido University of Education. I am still here for the whole of this new year and then some. I am still watching and learning and I will take out time to share as soon as I get a chance to do so. I hope to bring back enough information to contribute to the Nigerian educational System.

Happy New Year.


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