Thursday, 27 February 2014

Start as you mean to go on!

I came to Matsumoto, having been based in Chiba before, looking to expand my horizons, gain new experiences and to further develop my teaching career. I have always had in interest in travelling and experiencing the delights that the world has to offer first hand (hence basing myself in Japan!), and I jumped at the prospect of living and working in the mountainous landscapes of Matsumoto. When I first learned that I would be working for Luna, I was eager with anticipation get off on the right foot and to prove to myself, the school and to the students of my teaching capabilities.
            My first month at Luna has already flown by and what a month it has been! Getting used to a new city and a new environment is never easy but I feel extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people and to be part of a school that has a real community feel shared by the staff, students and their parents who have welcomed me with open arms. Of course it has by no means been an easy introduction into the world of teaching, familiarizing myself with a plethora of new textbooks, resources and students, facing the wrath of the recent snowfall (I have never had to move any snow in my life, let alone several times my body weight!), the flu outbreak where students and staff alike were dropping like flies, as well as trying to work out how the kettle works! On a few days I felt as if I had hurtled into a huge brick wall and I have doubted myself at times on my class management and teaching techniques. But it is these times of adversity and hardship that allow you to improve yourself as a teacher and to learn from your weaknesses to strive for a better learning environment for your students. It is also very important to bear in mind that the negative times are often offset by the positive ones. Even just the simple joy of seeing your student smile for the first time or observing your students immersing themselves with the new activity you have been wanting to try out in the classroom. I even had one of the students, from a class I covered for when Jim fighting a losing battle with the flu, come to the school with his mother in tow the day after his lesson just to say hello to me. It’s moments like these that really warms your heart as both a teacher and a mentor and shows you how much of a positive influence you can have over your students. It’s moments like these that I will continue strive for as I continue my time teaching at Luna.
            A special thanks to Jim, Yukari and Tomoko for making me feel at home from the get go, helping me find my feet and letting me be part of this wonderful community. I appreciate all of the work you have done for me and I hope the future will be full of many more new and exciting challenges.

Damian Gowland