What inspired you to teach ESL?
Chris: I did some substitute teaching in the United States and enjoyed the experience. When I heard about a job in Japan (which I love) in education (which I enjoyed) I thought it was a good opportunity to be somewhere I love and do something I enjoyed. And several years later I am still teaching.
Why did you choose JET?
Chris: I chose JET because it was one of the paths to Japan that I explored. And when I was picked for a position in the organization I immediately said yes. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew it was going to be an adventure I would never forget or regret.
Describe your day to day activities as a teacher in Japan.
Chris: Overall, it is just like any ordinary job. I arrive at work or the school I was assigned to for that day. I talk with the teacher next to me and see what the general atmosphere of the school is. I then have a short meeting with the teacher about the days classes and lessons. I then set out gathering material, creating material, and preparing for class or in some events classes in the future or for later on in the week. After a period of planning or more I then go to the scheduled classes and teach English or attempt to educate the students in the world of English. Around lunch (depending on the school) I bring my lunch to the classroom and eat with the student or interact with the students while the other students prepare the school lunches.
After lunch is play time, which means sports outside or clubs and games inside on rainy days. The afternoon, may have one or two classes and the remaining of the day is spend preparing for the next lessons. On the completion of the last class there is cleaning time with the students. Once this is finished and the last homework is concluded it is time for club activities or after school sports. This occurs until sunset. At this point I set out for home where I relax, decompress, and eat. And that is the normal-ish day-to-day schedule.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Chris: Personally, without this experience I never would have met my wife and formed bonds that I am still building between friends, family, and students. Professionally, I never knew that having an impact on the upbringing of students could be a profession. Academically, I am constantly studying not only to improve my knowledge, but also to be prepared for students question and keep my lessons fresh and exciting.
What is one piece of advice you would give to others thinking about teaching abroad?
Chris: First and foremost, it is a job. Regardless of what you hear. If you treat it as such then you will earn the respect of both students and teachers.
Photo Credit: Japanese Temple