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Amparo Bertram

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07:24 pm: First day of school...again?
Today we had the official ceremony for the first day of classes. What's that? Didn't we do that a month ago? Apparently that was just the trial run. Today was the Real Thing. The students had to come wearing jackets and ties and everything.

I went to the post office during my lunch break to take care of all my business. As expected, I couldn't get there, wait my turn, get all the paperwork done, and get back to the school within a half hour. Luckily, I didn't have a 5th period class today, so it didn't really hurt anyone that I got back a few minutes late. (I wouldn't have gone if it had been one of my full-schedule days.)

My classes went pretty well, so no complaints. Then no one showed up for the English club meeting after school, so I was off the hook there. Tomorrow I'll be meeting after school with the students who are going for a homestay in Australia, to help prepare them. Mainly I just have to read from a script and offer any pertinent advice.

I was given a set of tax forms that I'm apparently supposed to fill out for my tax exemption. I don't recall such a form when I was in JET...we were just told to file for an extension in April and then fill out our regular tax forms after we had been in the country 330 days, and the exemption was automatic. Hmm... Anyway, whoever filled out the example form had a sense of humor, because they filled it out as "Harry Potter" living at "1-1 Hogwarts, Otsu-shi, Shiga."

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From:nitasee
Date:October 4th, 2004 07:03 am (UTC)
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First day ceremonies intrigue me since in the US, all we do is unlock the school door and hope kids find their classroom. Question: what is the Japanese school year? Is it like the US one (roughly Sept-May with summer break)? It's never been clear to me based on the stuff I've seen and read.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 4th, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC)
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The Japanese school year starts the first week of April. It runs until roughly July 18th, "Marine Day," a national holiday. The students then get about five weeks of summer break, BUT, they are assigned homework to complete over break, and most of them have to keep coming to school for their club activities. Anyone who was failing during spring term also has to come for summer school classes.

Fall term starts up around the first week of September and goes until about Christmas...or, more importantly, around December 23rd, which is a national holiday for the emperor's birthday. (I don't know how it will be at this school, but at my last schools, the students all had their term-end final exams a week before school actually let out, so the last week we were all sitting around not doing anything. It seemed incredibly inefficient to me.)

School starts up again about the second week of January. Around this time, the seniors have all decided where they are going after they graduate, and most of them lose all motivation for doing school work. Even after they know whether they've passed their college entrance exams, they have to keep coming to school until at least the end of Februrary/first week of March. Then there is a big graduation ceremony and the seniors all leave. The rest of the students keep attending school until around the third week of March. That's when the school year officially ends, and everyone gets about a one-week break before the new school year starts.

I should mention that it's also this time that teachers get their assignment notices. Unlike the US, where teachers have to hunt for their own jobs, teachers here are assigned where to work by the prefecture. From what I hear, unless they have some specific qualification that's really needed by a certain school (for example, one of my schools needed a gym teacher who specialized in both skiing and gymnastics), they are reassigned every three years to a different school. The schools they are assigned to could be on the opposite side of the prefecture from their families; a number of teachers live alone in apartments during the week and go back to see their families on weekends. I was told in Niigata that, after the first six years, they can request a school. So, anyway, teachers are told at the end of March that they are being reassigned, and they have a week to move to their new city before classes start in April.
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From:nitasee
Date:October 5th, 2004 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Complicated calendar. I was under the impression that the school year started roughly in the spring, so I guess I was right. I just couldn't figure out how the summer holiday fit into it since I knew that they had one. If I'm understanding this right, it sounds like Japanese kids are in school for a larger part of the year than most US kids (who get three months off in summer).

The schools they are assigned to could be on the opposite side of the prefecture from their families; a number of teachers live alone in apartments during the week and go back to see their families on weekends.

That sounds crappy. Do they try to avoid creating a situation like that?

and they have a week to move to their new city before classes start in April.

That's pretty rotten. Do they pay teachers pretty well to make up for this kind of disruption?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 5th, 2004 08:59 pm (UTC)
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If I'm understanding this right, it sounds like Japanese kids are in school for a larger part of the year than most US kids (who get three months off in summer).

They are, though it's less now than it used to be. Up until a couple years ago, the students had a half-day of school on Saturday as well, but that was phased out. ...Of course, they still come to school on the weekends for club activities.

Do they try to avoid creating a situation like that?

I honestly don't know. I imagine they try to take it into account, but there's no guarantee. I recall seeing one story of a couple, both teachers, assigned to schools a six-hour drive apart. That would make even meeting on weekends rough.

Do they pay teachers pretty well to make up for this kind of disruption?

I haven't a clue what teachers are paid. I've been told that JETs (who get $30,000 per year) are considered well-paid compared to regular teachers, but I don't know if they get pay increases the longer they teach or what. The one thing about the job, however, is that it is considered stable employment. Teachers don't have to worry about being laid off; at worst they'd just be transferred to a different school. (At least, that's my understanding. I never talk about financial matters, so I just go by things I overhear or see on TV.)
[User Picture]
From:wiliqueen
Date:October 4th, 2004 08:05 am (UTC)
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Apparently that was just the trial run. Today was the Real Thing. The students had to come wearing jackets and ties and everything.

*blink* So, do their grades for the past month count?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 4th, 2004 02:00 pm (UTC)
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I assume so...but we only had one and a half weeks of regular classes at the beginning of the month. After that we plunged into final exams for the 1st and 2nd year students. I think they consider September to be the end of the spring term, and October starts fall term. I don't know why they broke it up that way; I've never seen anything like it before.
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From:wiliqueen
Date:October 4th, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC)
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After that we plunged into final exams for the 1st and 2nd year students.

*blink*

*blink*

I think they consider September to be the end of the spring term, and October starts fall term. I don't know why they broke it up that way; I've never seen anything like it before.

Wild. Talk about wanting to make sure you don't forget anything over the summer...
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 4th, 2004 06:54 pm (UTC)
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Then no one showed up for the English club meeting after school, so I was off the hook there.
Now that they're done making crepes, what else is left for them to do?

In Scary Conspiracy news...I went to Lawson's yesterday and they were out of milk tea. What's going on!?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 4th, 2004 08:53 pm (UTC)
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Apparently three of them are planning on entering a speech competition, and they need me to check their entries.

One girl sent a note today saying she had gone home early due to feeling poorly, but I don't know about the other two.
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 4th, 2004 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, I wasn't very clear about that. That was a sarcastic, rhetorical question making fun of their crepes. (I just can't let it go.)
[User Picture]
From:melf42
Date:October 5th, 2004 03:22 am (UTC)
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I was given a set of tax forms that I'm apparently supposed to fill out for my tax exemption.

It's a new law this year that has something to do with a change in the tax relationship between Japan and the U.S. which basically means we have to fill out one more form. (My supervisor called me today about the same thing, but she actually told me about it awhile ago.)

LOL on the Harry Potter. I wonder if the Hiroshima example people were as creative. Prob not.

[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 5th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC)
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I liked it better the formless way. <sigh> Oh, well, it's only two pages.
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