Junior High School
Each and every Junior High school is different but they do however work on basically the same schedule. At Junior High Schools there are three schedules – one for the regular 50 minute classes, one for 45 minutes and a rare one for 40 minute classes. On special days such as school festivals, graduations, parents evening etc., the shorter class periods are often used. Please consult the daily blackboards in the teachers’ room, which has important events, changes and times written on it. If you don’t understand the Kanji ask your JTE for help. The following is a typical day’s schedule (50 minute classes):
8:15 Teachers’ Meeting, although this may change from school to school. The Principal or Vice Principal greets everyone and the teachers give announcements. Even though you may not understand it all, you are still expected to be there.
8:25 – 8:40 Homeroom
8:40 – 8:45 Break
8:45 – 9:35 1st class
9:45 – 10:35 2nd class
10:45 – 11:35 3rd class
11:45 – 12:35 4th class
12:35- 1:10 Lunch. You will either be left alone in the staff room or be invited to eat with the students in their homeroom. Lunch will hold many surprises for you including octopus, quails eggs, natto (fermented soybeans) and other goodies…
1:10 – 1:25 Free time
1:30 – 2:20 5th class
2:30 – 3:20 6th class
3:20 – 3:30 School clean up. Kids will be seen running from place to place with brooms or rags. This may be done after lunch, depending on the school and/or daily schedule.
3:30 – 3:45 Homeroom
3:45 – Club Activities. The highlight of most students’ day. Many kids will stay for ages after school. Ask the teacher who is in charge of the particular club if you would like to join one.
1. Try and find a non-JTE friend in the staff room who speaks a little English and who likes to practice using it. Try and speak to them every day. This way, not only will you have a friend that you won’t spend the whole time discussing lesson plans and problem students with, but you can also discuss any worries you have with them, ask them about any changes made to the daily schedule or ask about any big event/ceremony that is coming up.
2. Try to get on good terms with your office lady and school secretary. These two people are an invaluable source of information (and gossip!) on the school, teachers, students and the general running of the office (how to use the fax, help with photocopying etc.) They can make your life much easier.
3. Try and join in periodically with a variety of club activities (tea ceremony, badminton, volleyball etc.) Not only will it help you get to know some of your students better, but also your students will gain confidence in talking to you and many of your English classes will become much easier and more fun.
4. Whenever there is a ceremony/festival/school event coming up, check with your supervisor (or English speaking friend!) what it entails, whether you have to arrive early and what the appropriate dress is (suit, smart but casual, sports wear etc.) Your supervisor is supposed to keep you informed but if they are busy with preparations they may forget/assume you know.
5. Try and learn some Japanese and use it around the staff room. Even a little will be much appreciated and will go a long way to making good relationships with your colleagues.
6. If in doubt about anything, ask your supervisor, and if you are still not sure ask again! Things run much more smoothly when you know what is going on, what is expected of you and what protocol requires.
7. Keep your sense of humour and stay smiling (even if things go wrong), but most of all have fun!