A little over a month ago, I came to Japan to be an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) for high schools in Okazaki, Japan. From what I have heard from Jr high school and elementary school ALTs, high school is a whole different ball game! It seems lessons are more so planned by the Japanese teachers for the younger students (especially Jr high) and the ALT acts more as a native tape recorder. For high school, I have to plan all my lessons and am basically told, "Do whatever you want" a lot. Which is actually very stressful at first when you have never taught before! But overall I think I am lucky that I was placed at high schools! Many of the kids are extremely interested in me and some have high English ability and want to talk to me between classes. :)
I had little training for high school during my training in Nagoya. I was the only one in my group who was going to teach high school so the focus was mainly on company policies, elementary school lessons, and middle school lessons. I basically felt like I was thrown into the fire for my first few days! Luckily, a lot of other ALTs in my area teach high school, so I was able to get some advice!
The English ability at the four high schools I teach at vary greatly. Two of my high schools are very high, one is pretty low but they try hard, and the last is extremely low. The extremely low level school was really shocking at first! I had only visited the top level school at the time so I was not expecting blank faces and the look of "wakarimasen. eigo kirai" on their faces. The first day I taught there it was a disaster! They didn't understand anything and couldn't ask me any questions. I learned from that and changed my teaching style and have had much more enjoyable days since. :) Basically we just play games and fun activities. Many of my schools also require me to be there for English Club that is after school for 1-2 hours. My work schedule was adjusted for this on some days.
For high school you do not have to eat school lunch with the children. However, you can purchase a pre-made bento lunch for about 220 yen that the other teachers buy, but I haven't bought it yet. I just been bringing my own lunches. Sometimes I just bring sandwiches!
I did have to buy indoor shoes for each of my schools. I decided to just buy some slip ons from the 100 yen store. I only have 1 pair of tennis shoes for the school I visit twice a week. The rest I just have 100 yen store shoes! They work fine! It is extremely expensive to start working in Japan. So buying 3-5 different shoes for indoor use isn't really practical!
So far I have experienced both culture day and sports day (what you see in anime). Culture day was extremely enjoyable! I loved it. The principal and one of the teachers of one of my schools bought me tickets to everything and I went around with three other teachers and tried all the food, watched the videos, and played all the games. I also went into the ghost house, which was very well done! I laughed the whole time. A lot of the students wanted to take photos with me and called me cute.
One thing that surprised me greatly was how the students react to me when they first see me. In America, I am never called "cute," "pretty," "beautiful" or given such compliments so frankly! But as soon as I walk in the room or pass a group of students, they say "kawaii!" "bijin!" etc. Even boys will say so! I have to admit it made me feel better since I was so nervous at first. Also the first question in almost every class I get is, "Do you have a boyfriend?" If you do answer "yes," you may get many follow-up questions about your boyfriend!
I am still doing introduction lessons for many of my schools but I am looking forward to doing Halloween lessons soon!