Every year the Board of Education run seminars all over the prefecture for the Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs). They're an opportunity for JTEs from different schools to get together to talk about teaching, practise their English and maybe find some inspriation in the activities demonstrated. And, because the seminars are run by ALTs, it was an opportunity for me to get out of the office for four days.
It turned out the that seminar was a lot more fun than I imagined.
The seminar is entirely planned by the BoE (the daily schedule, the activities we'll use etc), it's up to the the ALTs to inject life into the printouts and make the seminar work as well as it could. I was helping to run the seminar at Kokusai Joho School with Debs, Kate Duis and Katie Dooling. The 42 JTEs at the seminar came from schools around Tokamachi and Muikamachi, so between us I think we knew everyone who turned up.
Each morning we ran communicative activities that the JTEs had to do in English. There were some great ideas which I might try to use for my English Club, especially The Hotel Receptionist
game which was like charades but with hotel problems instead of book/movie titles.
The main focus for the seminar was to have the JTEs involved in a debate. We ALTs had to give an example debate on teh first day using teh proposition "The JET Programme should be abolished"
. Debs and I took the Pro-side so we had to try and talk ourselves out of our jobs, which was really fun though I was worried that some teachers might believe what I was saying was my true opinion. After the demonstration, we divided the JTEs into debate groups and had them prepare every afternoon until the final day when the big debate took place. Some of the morning actvities were also geared towards having the JTEs discuss opinions which gave extra practice for the debate.
I think our seminar went well. The JTEs were interested and all four ALTs enjoyed giving the seminar, which probably explains why I thought it went so well. It was a nice change to be talking to a room full of people who could understand everything I was saying. I even managed to get a few laughs out of the JTEs without having to stumble around like a clown, as I do for the students. It was also good for me to talk to JTEs from other schools to get another view of how English can be taught.
After the final day, some of teh teachers went down the road for a meal at the Agricore Echigo Winery where I got to properly meet Patrick and Shelly, the two new ALTs for Kokusai Joho. They're the successors to Jess and Gina and they're both really cool, so hopefully we'll get to see plenty of them over the next year.