Last week saw me finish off my last two classes for the academic year with the students getting ready to take their final tests and then have a short break before starting the new school year at the beginning of April.
One of the main events in March that has all the teachers and students excited is the graduation ceremony for the third years. One thing to remember about this is that the third years have been away from school since December already with the national college exam at the start of 2015 being their main goal. Every student looking to enter a university in Japan needs to take it and it’s one of the most stressful things many of these students will have faced in their lives. Their ability to enter a university of their choosing is also the most important factor in deciding their careers and future professional lives. It’s no wonder that third year homeroom teachers are the most stressed out teachers you’ll find. On top of that they have to deal with students who may be stressing out and having emotional breakdowns. I take my hat off to them!
This also means that for the next month or so I can get ready for the new first year students and clear out all the old paperwork that has accumulated on my desk. I also have to try and think up a fun and entertaining self-introduction lesson (although the mere fact I’m from South Africa is usually enough to elicit gasps of surprise from many of the students!)
The best thing about March is that this is the month that sees the last dregs of the winter weather finally vanish before the blooming of the cherry blossoms heralds the coming of spring and the start of my favourite time of the year in Japan. July and August will see plenty of summer festivals and fireworks displays that will be the last hurrah before November and December herald in colder temperatures and evenings spent huddled under the kotatsu.
So, just as the new first year students are both anxious and excited to enter their new high school for the first time, I’m also anxious and excited to meet them for the first time. I hope they are as funny and crazy as the other students have been that I have taught so far and I’m sure I’ll have many more crazy stories and fond memories at the end of March 2016!