Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | August 31, 2008

Back to School

I (Brad) love teaching at St. Mary’s. The thought of working with 24 boys was somewhat intimidating before the first day, but the class has been surprisingly fun, comfortable, and yes, easier to work with than a coed classroom. With boys, jokes race around the room, sketches of alien-insect-bug-destroyers abound, and these “gentlemen” (as referred to by Mr. White) work harder than any group I’ve ever had…with the right motivation, that is.

Here’s one example of an awesome motivator for the boys: every time I notice them doing a particularly good job at something we’ve been working on, I give them a “Good job ticket.” They write their cluster’s name on the ticket and enter into the weekly “Samurai Contest.” On Friday, I choose a ticket and the winning cluster gets to keep the prize on their tables all week to show how hard they’ve been working. Here’s the prize, a miniature Samurai Helmet I got at an antique store (they LOVE it):

We’ve established many of our procedures for the year, and will continue to practice, practice, and practice some more until the room becomes a well-oiled machine. I am definitely learning a great deal about a school system far different from those I’ve worked in before, and I hope to use what I’ve learned back in the States in a few years as a principal.

Although the school is certainly not perfect, they foster a nice blend of teacher’s autonomy and accountability, provide all the resources you could ever ask for, and the administration directly and personally encourages the students to achieve and strive to do their best on a regular basis. Needless to say, the things the school emphasizes support teachers and students and create a great place for boys to learn.

All in all, it’s been a good start. ☺


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