Friday, April 13, 2012

Hanami in Japan

It is Spring again in Japan. This is actually my 5th spring in Japan. I even have to admit that I am suprised. When I arrived here in 2008, the plan was to only stay here for 2 years and then head back to Canada. A few years later and I am still here in Japan working and living life with my very awesome family.

I have to admit that my favorite time of year in Japan has always been spring. Back home in Canada, I love Fall. Fall in Canada is an amazing time that always brings back incredible memories of going back to school, Halloween, Remembrance Day (a sombre occasion, but as a kid somehow exciting) and of course the anticipation of Christmas.

In Japan, spring is a festive time. it is a time to shake off winter and get ready for Hanami! Hanami basiacally translates to "cherry blossom viewing." In Japan, the blossoming of the cherry trees is a very major thing. Across the country, people head out in the millions to look at the "sakura" or cherry blossoms, take pictures of them, have picnics under them and drink tons of booze. It is a festive and very fun time of year.

I wanted to share a few of my cherry blossom photos from this spring here in Kobe.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New School Year Resolutions

The new year is upon us!!! Well, the new year is upon many workers in Japan including myself. The new fiscal and school year began yesterday. New company workers (freshmen) put on their best black suits and shines up their shoes in order to walk to work with their heads held high, beaming with pride. Many people across Japan had been transferred and were starting with new branches of their current companies in different parts of Japan. The buzz of nerves, excitement and sake (post 6:00 pm) filled the air.

In my case, the new school year is around the corner. I have spent the last two days doing PD (professional development) workshops and tomorrow, go to school to tidy up my classroom and get ready for my new band of merry, high octane students to run through the doors. With a new year comes new challenges. I will be faced with students who have personalities I must get to know. They will have abilities that are amazing and challenges that will possibly test the limits of my knowledge. They will be eager to learn and at times filled with anxiety to try new things. they will have parents who are supportive and possibly, parents who may not see eye-to-eye with me as a teacher.

The new school year will begin soon and I am definitely ready. Am I 100% ready? Not at all. There are many things to do as a teacher to prepare for the new year. To be honest, it will probably take me several weeks to fully settle in.

A with the beginning of every school year, I also realize that there are things I want to do in order to make myself a better teacher and ensure my students have a great year in my class.

There are some new school year resolutions:

1. Be more organized with my assessment and teaching material (this is easier said then done for someone as disorganized as I am).

2. Spend more time focusing on teacher-parent relations. As a teacher, knowing what is going on at home can give you great insight into a student's behaviour (good or bad) in class.

3. Integrate more fun technology into the classroom.

4. Spend more time learning about local nature and teaching my students about the outdoors. I take my students outside to a giant park each day and it is the perfect outdoor classroom. I have been studying about Japanese birds, but need to learn more about the local flora and fauna (I want my students to love Nature as much as I do).

5. Dust off my literacy teaching skills. I used to be very enthusiastic about teaching comprehensive literacy, but over the past few years, my teaching of reading has become a little stagnant. Time for me to go back to school in a sense and sharpen my teaching skills.

6. Not get so stressed at the end of each term.

7. Do more fun and creative crafts/artwork with my class more often.

8. Brainwash my students and their parents that Canada is the greatest country in the world and they want to travel thee, spend lots of money and help the Canadian economy! (ok....just kidding....but not really)

9. Teach my class here in Japan all about the wonders of Tim Hortons.

10. Make this school year better than last year!

Hopefully I can organize my classroom as well as this one!


If you have ever considered coming to Japan or South Korea to teach, this is a great "how to" guide for you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Great Stuff about "Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal"

A hectic day. A busy day. A sad day. A nice day.

After almost a month's vacation I went back to work today. It was of course hectic because I have gotten used to a schedule that basically involves hanging out with my family, going for a run and working a bit on my book or now, public relations/marketing for my book.

It was a sad because I have been with my young son every day for almost a month. I have watched him grow and develop so much, but now.....back to work. I am not complaining about my job, it's a good one. I just get a little spoiled with so much vacation time. 

GREAT day because of two great reviews of my book, Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal

An amazing written look at the book on Dimitri's blog. He is a university professor who was based in Japan last year.

Next, a nice review from You Tube video blogger LaurenNIHON:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Book - Featured on the Qiranger Adventures Podcast

Each week I listen to the Qiranger Adventures Podcast. This morning I was listening to it while making my breakfast and swilling my morning coffee. I was a little more than happy when I hear him, unexpectedly give a great review of my book!

Listen to well known travel blogger Steve Miller discuss "Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal."