Hearty greetings from Kumamoto! Just wanted to welcome all of you ichinenseis (first-yrs) onboard.
You will find a lot of useful advice on the 'Aspiring JETs Singapore edition 2011' but I wanted to welcome the one thing that I wished someone had told me when I was in your shoes last year. And here it goes:
Showcase your interests in and out of the classroom.
What do I mean by that? Well, currently I work at 3 elementary schools and 1 junior high (secondary school), so I only get to see my elementary kids once a month because their schools are small and hence, don't get as much ALT time as their bigger counterparts. It's difficult to build bonds in this case since I am just a guest star in their lives, ya know (I know, I know, I am shameless). Anyway, since April was the start of the new school year, I decided that I couldn't just go with the flow anymore and hence, taught all my fifth and sixth graders how to sign the alphabet in my first class (I learnt sign language at the Singapore Association for the Deaf in uni).
Already, I can feel myself building a more personal connection with some of my kids as they will stop to finger-spell their names when they pass me in the corridor. Much more encouraging than the perfunctory 'Konnichiwa!!' greeting. I taught all of them how to sign 'Hi!'; relationships can only improve from now on. www. I kinda wish I have thought of teaching them sign language last year but there you go--some life lessons must be learned via experience. And you guys benefit from my experience.
I don't mean to suggest that you all should scramble to take up last-minute sign language classes. But rather, in your packing process, think about how you can use your interests to teach English in the classroom. Balloon sculpturing? Origami? Playing a musical instrument? Or even wearing your favourite soccer jersey (elementary schools are generally more lax about attire). It is true: I am, for the most part, a glorified tape recorder in the junior high. But the possibilities are endless in the elementary classroom. So just come here and enjoy the ride lar.
Gotta run. Gonna be late for sch lor. Chim jia lat.
Omedetou once again!