Thursday, April 19, 2007

New English Teaching Methodologies Blogging Project

My English Teaching Methodologies Class and I have started a new blogging project.
The class consists of 30 students; some of them plan on being English teachers, others plan on being elementary school teachers, and others plan on entering the private sector. Above is a picture of some of them doing a practice elementary school English class last year.
We started this class on April 12 and we will finish the first week of August. AStudents will be blogging about their experience as language learners and teachers as well as be using these blogs as a means to exchange ideas and opinions about teaching English. Please check out the class blog for links to the students' individual blogs. We hope that you can join us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Advisee makes an Elementary School Teacher Blog

One of my advisees who graduated last March, Olive, was employed as an elementary school teacher this year and is currently writing about the challenges and rewards of teaching at elementary school on her blog. It is a good reference, please check it out!

The Importance of Being Organized and Singing the Burnt Out Blues

It has been a long time since I posted. The past month and a half have been perhaps the busiest of my up to now not so busy life and I had a difficult time keeping up.
There were some good things: Last month I was promoted from lecturer to asscociate professor(准教授). It was an overwhelmingly time consuming task to apply for promotion as I had to submit every single paper I ever wrote as well as write and abstract in Japanese for each paper. I also summarized each presentation I had ever done and provided evidence that I had done the presentation. In addition to this I had to submit 4 other documents. What made this task phenomenally time consuming was my complete lack of organization. I literally spent days going through all kinds of documents etc. that had been collecting dust in the corner of my office for a couple of years. I also spent quite a bit of time tracking down those journals and short articles I had wrote that I had misplaced. Thanks to some good friends who are highly organzied people, I was able to submit everything I had to. My advice to anyone interested in working in a Japanese university is to make a concious effort to hold onto every paper you write or any artifact of a presentation you made (not just to throw everything into a space in your bookshelf). Also, I recommend that you write an abstract of your paper in Japanese or presentation soon after you finish it. One of the reasons the application process took me so long was I had to write abstracts in Japanese for some papers that I had written years ago and whose content I had forgotten about. Also, writing a concise abstract in English is not easy for me so writing one in Japanese is extremely challenging and usually has to be proofread. Somehow I was able to get everything together by the deadline, but I hope that this encourages people not to follow in my haphazard footsteps.

I was also involved in a couple of fairly big projects in February and March which included helping to produce a textbook (I primarily managed the accounting side), redesigning the Faculty of Education's website, contributing a few short essays to a book and a non-academic publication, grading tests and reading papers and writing reports for a few trips I took (Thailand & China). I also try to devote a lot of time to my family. So, I was feeling a little overwhelmed in February and March. The end result was that I did not do as well as a job with my classes as I would have liked and was not able to finish two papers about using vocabulary notebooks. I have realized that I cannot be an administrator and an educator/researcher at the same time. Unfortunately, this year administrative work took too much time and I have been left feeling a little inadequate as an educator/researcher.
Classes started tow weeks ago and I still had a backlog of administrative work form the previous academic year that I just finished. I like to try new things in my classes but this was the first time I had not been able to plan anything new before classes began. The past week, I have not felt my normal amount of energy when getting ready for the new semester. However, I am not completely impervious to the excitement that comes with the beginning of a new academic year; new students, and a rested, refreshed and enthusiastic returning student body. Also, reading the Autono Blogger and the Japan Action Research in EFL today gave me some new ideas and rekindled my motivation a little. Once the weather warms up I think I will be more back to normal and back to feeling like an educator/researcher.